Downeast Cyclo-Cross celebrates autumn in New England

Can Justin Lindine keep his winning streak alive?

The only UCI cyclo-cross racing in the USA this weekend will take place in the sleepy town of New Gloucester, Maine at Pineland Farm. Timed to take advantage of peak foliage color, the race is expected to draw hundreds of participants for professional and amateur racing on Saturday and Sunday. These will be races 8 and 9 on the New England Cyclo-Cross Series (NECCS) calendar. In addition, Sunday's event is a UCI C2-ranked race for both men and women.

Justine Lindine (Bikereg-Joe's Garage) has been on fire lately. First he swept bothraces at the Providence Cyclocross Festival two weeks ago, and then did it again at Granogue Cross last week. He told Cyclingnews, "I'm really excited about being able to get double wins and it is a good feeling to be consistent from day-to-day and weekend-to-weekend."

This week the cycling blogs have been buzzing about Lindine's victories. His New England fans have almost become cult-like with some demanding that he be ranked higher in national racing polls, while one blogger suggested "Lindine for President". There is little doubt that these legions will be on hand to cheer for him in Maine this weekend.

Adam Myerson (SmartStop-Mock Orange Bikes p/b Ridley) is expected to give Lindine a run for his money. Myerson won on Sunday last year and is no stranger either to the New England Fans.

The "Amazing Keough Family" has all three young men registered for the Elite race. Both Luke and Nick (Champion System) have shown in the past that they too can pull off some surprising wins.

Finally, teammates Christian Favata and Josh Dillon (RGM Watches-Richard Sachs) should be in the running at least for podium spots.

The course at Pineland Farm is quite diverse. It includes challenging off-camber sections, grassy fields, a blistering fast road through the woods, and even a trip through the farm's barn. The weather is expected to cooperate with temperatures in the high 50's with partly sunny skies. Whether the ground will dry out after some heavy rains this week is yet to be seen.

The elite women's race is expected to be equally exciting. Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing) has been strong all season, including a second place finish at the Grand Prix of Gloucester. Her main rival is likely to be Sally Annis (Crossresults.com). Both women have a reputation for laying it all on the line from the starting gun.

Smith is expected to have no less than four teammates in the race including Marian Jamison, Elle Anderson, Nancy Labbe-Giguere, and Christina Tamillo. If team tactics play a role in this race, the LadiesFirst Racing team should have a decided advantage.

Spectators will be treated to seeing former champion Lyne Bessette in Saturday's field. While Lyne has retired from elite cyclo-cross racing, she has entered a second career racing on the track with paralympic cyclists. Given her years of experience, however, she is certainly not out of the running for a medal.

The Downeast Weekend promises to be a festival atmosphere. According to race promoter John Grenier, "Pineland Farm has really stepped up their involvement in the event, offering a free shuttle bus between the race venue and the farm market and deli. They've stocked the market with all the staples of 'cross racing, from hearty sandwiches and local produce to the finest craft beers and wine."

Located only two hours from Boston and a half hour from Portland, nearby Freeport is a tourist magnet that features dozens of high-end outlet shops anchored by L.L. Bean. In fact Rebecca Wellons commented, "It's going to take all the effort I can muster to stay out of the Patagonia outlet!"

With many of the stars of USA cyclo-cross racing at the World Cup in Tabor, Czech Republic, the door has been left open for the racers who stayed home to shine a bit and collect some coveted UCI points.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews.com this weekend for on-the-scene coverage of the racing in New Gloucester.

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