One day after falling short of victory by five seconds, Kerry Werner (BMC U23 Development Team) turned the tables on Saturday's winner Brian Matter (RACC p/b Geargrinder) to win the second day of racing at the North Carolina Grand Prix.
Matter placed second, at 17 seconds, to continue his four-year podium streak at Hendersonville's Jackson Park while Jake Wells (NoTubes Elite Cross Team) rebounded from a 10th place finish on Saturday to claim the final podium spot on Sunday, 1:03 in arrears of Werner in the UCI C2-ranked elite men's event.
The wishes of Saturday's podium finishers came true as rain showers, heavy at times, transformed Jackson Park's circuit from a wide-open grass criterium on Saturday into a treacherously slick parcours on Sunday which tempered the pure speed and put a premium on deftly piloted 'cross bikes, particularly on an increasingly difficult off-camber sector 300 meters from the finish line.
"Everybody felt the same on the flats strength-wise but the real key here today was how well you were riding the corners and just how smooth you were connecting lines," Werner told Cyclingnews. "It was fun."
Adam Myerson ( Team SmartStop/Mountain Khakis) once again started well, grabbing the holeshot as the 38-rider field launched down the start/finish straight and onto the grass. As the riders made their initial pass of the pits on the opening lap five riders already forced a separation which would decide the race. Off the front were yesterday's podium of Brian Matter, Kerry Werner and Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs-RGM Watches-Radix) plus Jake Wells and Andrew Dillman (Bob's Red Mill), the 18-year-old in his first season of transitioning into the elite ranks after a successful stint as a junior.
On the second lap Wells forced the pace which put Dillman into the red and off the back of the lead group.
"I like this kind of stuff, this is real 'cross for me" Wells told Cyclingnews regarding the muddy conditions. "I always seem to do better. I don't know if it's skill on my behalf that I handle this terrain well, or if it's the equipment. I've only been in a couple of muddy races this year but every one I've been in I've got a decent result."
As the leaders hit the late lap off-camber section cracks began to appear as Timmerman and Wells both dabbed which provided Matter an opportunity to move alone into the lead. Matter flew up the wall and arrived at the finish line with a three-second gap over Wells, Timmerman and Werner. Dillman crossed the finish line next alone in fifth, 15 seconds behind Matter.
As the rain picked up in intensity on the third lap, Matter was reeled in by the trio of Wells, Timmerman and Werner. By lap's end, however, Timmerman would lose contact for good as he came to grief on the off-camber section. Early on lap four Werner made his presence felt at the front as he forced the pace while Timmerman tried to keep them in check in hope of regaining contact.
The leaders' fourth trip through the off-camber section with 300m to go proved decisive as Werner entered the sector first and cleaned it while both Matter and Wells dabbed.
"It seemed like every time you took a pedal stroke through there your rear wheel was slipping out," said Werner. "I just felt smoother than those guys. I came into it in the lead, pulled a gap and went with it with four to go."
"After lap two Dan went down, Jake went down and I got a pretty good gap," Matter told Cyclingnews. "Then a couple of laps later it was me that went down. It was just that one mistake at the right time and Kerry got a 15-second gap on me."
With half of the race complete Werner now led Matter and Wells by 15 seconds while Timmerman trailed in fourth at 28 seconds.
One lap later Matter dispatched of Wells to take solitary control of second place and by lap's end Werner now led Matter by 17 seconds, Wells by 22 seconds and Timmerman by 31 seconds.
Lap after lap at the head of the race Werner proved both smooth and strong, never making a mistake and never providing Matter an opportunity to regain contact and vie for a second straight victory in Hendersonville.
"I wasn't sure at first I was going to make it, it's a long ways out, but I just tried to stay as smooth as possible and it worked," said Werner. "Riding in a group was alot harder so being out in front was good. I was able to do my own thing, pick my own lines and just keep it together."
"It seemed that for like four laps it went anywhere from 10 seconds to 20 seconds but in this course with how slippery it was at least today I wasn't closing that gap," said Matter. "Kerry just had a good ride today. I felt pretty good but just one little mistake in the middle of a 'cross race, for such a short race you can't make a mistake like that."
The gaps over the remainder of the field continued to grow, however, but the top four remained consolidated with Werner taking his second UCI victory in seven days, Matter earning second plus his eighth straight podium appearance at the North Carolina Grand Prix, followed by Wells and Timmerman.
The North Carolina Grand Prix was the final UCI-ranked 'cross race of 2012 in the United States with the pair of races in Chicago on January 5-6, 2013 the last opportunity to earn valuable UCI points for start grid positioning at US 'cross nationals one weekend later. All three of the podium finishers today in Hendersonville have their eye on nationals in Madison.
For Werner, the past two weekends have been quite a success as the 21-year-old Banner Elk, North Carolina resident finished first and third in last weekend's Supercross Cup in New York followed by a first and second at the North Carolina Grand Prix, earning him 130 UCI points in total.
"I'm feeling good," said Werner. "Now the only thing is there's a gap before the next big race. I've just got to keep it together for Chicago and nationals and hopefully pull something big out there, too."
Matter was pleased with his eighth consecutive podium appearance in Hendersonville, tracing back to his first trip to the North Carolina Grand Prix weekend in 2009.
"I'm definitely happy about that and I'm just looking forward to getting home and resting up a little bit before Chicago and then Madison's nationals," said Matter, a Wisconsin resident.
"This is a confidence builder going into nationals," said Wells of his third place result. "Hopefully it will be similar conditions there which will be right up my alley."
|1||Kerry Werner Jr. (USA) BMC U23 Development Team||1:05:06|
|2||Brian Matter (USA) RACC p/b Geargrinder||0:00:17|
|3||Jake Wells (USA) NoTubes Elite Cross Team||0:01:03|
|4||Dan Timmerman (USA) Richard Sachs - RGM Watches - Radix||0:02:44|
|5||Greg Wittwer (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team||0:02:53|
|6||Andrew Dillman (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team||0:03:04|
|7||Robert Marion (USA) American Classic Pro Cyclocross Team||0:03:05|
|8||Adam Myerson (USA) Team SmartStop/Mountain Khakis||0:04:16|
|9||Stephen Cummings (USA) C3-Athletes Serving Athletes||0:04:28|
|10||Andy Reardon (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team||0:04:41|
|11||Westley Richards (USA) Clemmons Bicycle||0:05:12|
|12||Bradford Perley (USA) Champion System/Cannondale||0:05:38|
|13||Jared Nieters (USA) SEAVS/Haymarket||0:05:59|
|14||Keck Baker (USA) Carytown Bicycle Co. p/b Cannondale||0:06:06|
|15||Richard Cypress Gorry (USA) Whole Athlete-Specialized||0:06:19|
|16||Chase Dickens (USA) American Classic Pro Cyclocross Team||0:06:34|
|17||Brian Sheedy (USA) Giant Bicycles/Brevard College||0:06:36|
|18||John Proppe (USA) Lake Effect Racing||0:07:29|
|19||Mike Van Den Ham (Can) Cycle-Smart||0:07:55|
|20||Ray Smith (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team||0:08:37|
|21||Lewis Gaffney (USA) Brevard College||0:09:10|
|22||Justin Crawford (USA) Veloshine Cycling Team||-2laps|
|23||Patrick Beeson (USA) Mock Orange Racing||-2laps|
|24||Joshua Stevens (USA) Garneau Custom P/B Hutchinson||-2laps|
|25||Bryan Schoeffler (USA) Subaru-AFAS p/b OSP||-4laps|
|DNF||Mitchell Kersting (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross Team|
|DNF||Anthony Viton (USA) Trek CXC|
|DNF||Matt Moosa (USA) Carolina Break|
|DNF||Jacob Lasley (USA) Team Soundpony|
|DNF||Paul Mesi (USA) FastFrankie Coaching/CLR|