Capital 'cross closes out Verge MAC series

The capital 'cross classic, held in the Washington, DC suburb of Reston Virginia, is the traditional season-ending race for the Verge MAC series, and the race where season titles are decided. The men’s race saw a surprise when former Swiss U23 Champion Michael Muller showed up. "I’m visiting my friend Jon Hamblen," he said. Having spent the past several years in agriculture school, Muller has been using the 2006 season as his reintroduction to international cycling.

The early laps saw the front of the field repeatedly stretch and come back together before Muller and Wisconsin’s Tristan Schouten (Trek/VW/Michelin) rode away with Jon Hamblen (RGM Watches/Richard Sachs) in pursuit. With two laps to go, Hamblen finally caught the two leaders after a long chase. But the race would be won at "Gambler’s Gulch," a short run-up with two small fallen tree trunks followed by a quick downhill. As had been proven throughout the day, it was possible to ride the section but there was little benefit (and a bit of risk) in doing so. On the last lap, Muller, Schouten, and Hamblen hit Gambler’s Gulch together with Muller in front. Muller elected to ride the section while the other two ran. Running seemed to be the better choice for a couple of seconds, but then Muller exploded down the following hill while the others remounted and gained a gap that he held to the line ahead of Schouten and Hamblen.

In the UCI women’s race, Mo Bruno-Roy of Independent Fabrications took the hole-shot. But, it was this season’s revelation Deidre 'Grasshopper' Winfield of Velo Bella/Kona who was able to take advantage of the course conditions for yet another significant victory. Using the hairpin turn after the pits as a launching pad, Winfield was able to blast-off down the long, paved downhill straight that followed. She was visibly faster than all of her competitors as the fast section carried the racers across a dam.

Behind the leaders, Melanie Swartz (Velo Bella/Kona) and Betsy Shogren (FORT Factory Team) sprinted toward a controversial third place finish. Shogren won the sprint, but was later relegated. A visibly upset Shogren was not happy. "I'm the first to admit if I did something wrong," she said later, “but I don’t feel I did anything wrong."

Still, the result was good enough to crown Shogren as Verge Mid-Atlantic series champion. Shogren, who won the 2003 and 2004 titles before her marriage as Betsy Schauer, becomes the first three-time Champion in the history of Verge MAC. Shogren took advantage of Winfield's absence to take round 6 and round 7 of the series, and these two wins were enough to push her over to the lead on points.

In the men's series, anther Fort-sponsored rider came out on top. Weston Schempf (Fort frames), who won round 6, edged out Ryan Leech (Meredith Group/GPOA/Cannondale Elite Cycling Team) to take the series. Jamie Driscoll (FiordiFrutta Elite Cycling Team) dominated the men's under-23 category by winning his division in the four rounds he attended, while Tyler Brown came out on top in the Junior men's division.

Final series standings

See the full report, results, photos and all series standings here

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