Billed as a sneak preview of the course for December's National Championships in Rhode Island, Saturday's Gearworks Bay State Cyclocross, round four of the 2005 Verge New England Championships Cyclocross Series, presented by Cycle-Smart, added an extra bit of intrigue: a healthy blanket of snow. The Sterling, Mass. course, designed by National's course guru Tom Stevens, was already challenging before the four inches of white fluff came down on Thanksgiving Day, but the added element of dodgy traction and sub-freezing temps made for an epic day in the fourth race of the 2005 Verge NECCS.
Verge NECCS Elite Men's points leader Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau) reveled in the slick conditions, taking a solid victory over four-time defending Verge NECCS champ Mark McCormack (Team Clif Bar). McCormack's teammate Jesse Anthony got the action started on the first lap as the Under-23 Series leader pushed the pace hard going into the race's main run-up. With McCormack falling back due to technical bobble in the treacherous conditions, Anthony and Johnson were on their own. Johnson powered away from Anthony on lap three, cracking open a lead that, while seriously threatened in the waning laps, never disintegrated totally.
McCormack fought back in the closing four laps, trimming Johnson's margin down to a mere six seconds with two laps to go. But while McCormack could see Johnson he couldn't catch Johnson, who goosed the pace just enough to make a last-lap lead change impossible. McCormack settled for a credible second, while Johnson solidified his overall Series lead. Anthony rounded out the top three and also finished on top of the U-23 podium.
Read the entire Gearworks 'cross race report here.