A state better known for its yacht racing, Rhode Island will become the center of American cyclo-cross with this coming weekend's Verge New England Championships Cyclo-Cross Series Finals, the W.E. Stedman Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross, on Saturday, and the Castor's Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross, on Sunday. Building up to the following weekend's Liberty Mutual U.S. National Championships, the Ocean State twin bill will provide perfect preparation for Nationals as well as a race-heavy end to the six-race Verge NECCS. With top riders from all across the U.S. flying in to get a final shot of racing before Nationals, overall Verge NECCS winner's will be decided in Warwick on Sunday
“I can tell you that Castor's GP organizer Matt Bodziony and I are very proud and excited to be hosting the Rhode Island Race Weekend,” says Joel Brown, organizer of Saturday's W.E. Stedman GP. “Who would have ever thought that Rhode Island would become the epicenter of US cyclo-cross!? This coming week, Rhode Island will indeed be ‘The biggest little state in the Union.'”
Coming into the Rhode Island “double dip” Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau) maintains a slim 15 point series lead over four-time defending Verge NECCS champion Mark McCormack (Team Clif Bar), but with double points on offer for Sunday's race an off-day for either rider could prove decisive. While Johnson and McCormack concentrate on racing each other for the Verge NECCS crown, non-title contenders Todd Wells (GT-Hyundai), winner of the final USGP, Barry Wicks (Kona), winner of the USGP #5, and Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly-Pool Gel) may well throw a few wrenches into the overall points chase. Michael Cody and Matt White (both Fior di Frutta) sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the points hunt and could steal a few decisive points from either Johnson or McCormack. Under-23 Series leader Jesse Anthony (Team Clif Bar) has cinched up his Verge NECCS title and appears likely to finish in the top-three in the Elite Men's points as well.
With Elite Women's points leader Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau) missing the final weekend due to commitments in Europe, the Women's overall title hangs in the balance. Sitting second behind Bessette, Maureen Bruno Roy (Independent Fabrication) needs a solid weekend to take the overall Series jersey away from the absent Canadian, but winning the Series remains well within Bruno Roy's grasp. As well, Mackenzie Dickey (Bicycle Alley) remains mathematically in contention for the overall points races.
The Verge NECCS overall awards for all points-scoring categories will happen at 4 pm on Sunday, following the Elite Men's race. Racers finishing in the top 3 in their category overall are requested to attend the awards ceremony. For the Elite Men and Women, cash prizes will only be awarded to those who attend the final overall podium ceremony.
Going into the Rhode Island weekend, Verge NECCS leaders are as follows: Elite Men, Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau); Elite Women, Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau); Under-23 Men, Jesse Anthony (Team Clif Bar); Masters 35+, Jonny Bold (Corner Cycle); Masters 45+, Colman O'Connor (Bicycle Link-MBRC); Junior Men, Jerome Townsend (Bicycle Alley); B Men, Pascal Bussieres (Abbrsuz LA GoeLiche); Cub Juniors, Jared Reuta (44Velo); Masters 55+, Phil Bannister (Putney-West Hill).
The 2005 Verge NECCS is sponsored by Verge Sport, makers of quality cycling apparel, and specializing in custom clothing orders; Cycle-Smart: Solutions for Cycling, personalized coaching for all cycling disciplines: Greyhound Juice, warming salves and skin care products for all athletes; Felt Bicycles, builders of the best bicycles in the world: BikeReg.com, the solution for all of your online registration needs for cycling events; and Litmus Designs, integrating web technology and graphic design solutions for your business needs.
Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series:
October 15 - Downeast Cyclo-Cross, New Gloucester, ME
November 12 - ChainBiter 7.0 Cyclo-Cross, Farmington, CT
November 13 - Cycle-Smart International Cyclo-Cross, Northampton, MA
November 26 - Gearworks Bay State Cyclo-Cross, Sterling, MA
December 3 - W. E. Stedman Co. Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross, S. Kingstown, RI
December 4 - Castor's Grand Prix, Warwick, RI