Historic showdowns in Granogue and Wissahickon

The 2006 Verge MAC Cyclo-cross Series kicks-off in spectacular fashion this weekend with the UCI C1 Cyclo-cross at Granogue on Saturday, October 21 and the UCI C2 Wissahickon Cyclo-cross the following day. The "Beast of the East" is the east’s largest cyclo-cross series with eight races ranging from the outskirts of New York City to the Beltway of Washington DC, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Italians Davide Frattini and Luca Damiani have arrived in America in order to compete against the North American pro's at Granogue and Wissahickon. According to Frattini, the riders are here to bolster their UCI standings, "Luca and I are coming to the USA to race cyclo-cross because there are more races for us to compete in for this season - there are only two UCI races in Italy. We also need to collect more points to have better start positions at the races when we begin competing in the World Cup events back in Europe during December."

Frattini, who races professionally for the New Jersey based Colavita Olive Oil / Sutter Home Wine cycling team, is no stranger to US racing, or cyclo-cross, having represented Italy in the past two World Cups and last year’s World Championships in Zeddam, The Netherlands. All told, he has nearly 40 victories in cyclo-cross competition, seven during last season alone. Like his compatriot, Luca Damiani is a professional road racer. While in America, he will be representing the Italian National Federation. Two years ago, Damiani was the champion of the Italian Cyclo-cross Season Series and he has scored 50 cyclo-cross victories so far in his career.

Last year’s winner Tim Johnson, Team Kona superstars Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks, Canada’s Geoff Kabush and many others will take on not only the Italian duo of Frattini and Damiani, but also the barrier bunny-hopping brothers Troy and Todd Wells. Todd is the current National Cyclo-cross Champion and represented the USA in Mountain Biking at the 2004 Olympics.

Davide Frattini knows what’s in store for him, "My teammate from Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home Wine, Mark McCormack, and (Belgian-based US pro) Jonathan Page told me the ‘cross races in the USA are great, the competition is hard and the events are not going to be easy."

In the women's race, US Natoinal Champion Katie Compton, Georgia Gould and Lyne Bessette, will meet head-to-head for the very first time.

A former champion of the Verge MAC Series before moving to Colorado, Compton has spent the majority of her career as a teammate of blind cyclist Karissa Whitsell rather than chasing individual glory. Compton has won the US National Cyclo-cross Championships for the past two years - impressive since she was forced to start at the back of the grid at both races because she had not scored any international points as a result of her Paralympic commitments.

Lyne Bessette and the current US National Mountain Bike Champion, Idaho’s Georgia Gould line up against Compton. Gould burst onto the scene two years ago and, in addition to being the National Champion in mountain biking, is the reigning Verge MAC series champion. Bessette, meanwhile, is the defending champion of both races, a former winner of Philadelphia’s Liberty Classic road race, a two-time Olympian, five-time Canadian Cycling Champion and one of Canada’s most decorated international professional athletes of all time.

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