In a thrilling day of racing, the Ithaca GP had record numbers on a big day of racing.
The cyclocross season is officially underway, and it was kicked off in style with a soggy day in Mid-Michigan. With rain clouds always threatening, only the CAT 4 races got through dry. The heavens opened up as the massive CAT 3 and Women’s Elite races were staging, and with most of the course on grass, it was slick from the start.
Perhaps no cyclocross race in the state is as well done as Ithaca, and the hard work draws big crowds and big names. Riders like Sven Baumann, Tom Burke, John Leach, Chad Wells, Ross Gibbs, Trever Kingsbury, Alex Gonzalez and plenty more drove a long way for their races, a testament to just how big this race and this discipline are becoming. Nearly everyone on hand went home with a prize or raffling winning, even if it was delicious milk and cheese. That’s totally worth a three hour drive. The rainy and went conditions only made the racing more exciting and challenging.
It was no trouble for Mackenzie Woodring, donning her Foundry kick for the first time in a long time Saturday. The Women had a 30 second head start from the 3s, and while most of the field was swept up immediately, Woodring dueled for much of the day with Algoma Bicycle Co.’s Kim Chapman in hot pursuit. The pair were only second a part for the whole race, with Chapman losing just a little bit of time as she pressed to close the advantage. Indeed, staying upright was half the battle, with the myriad off-camber corners and slick grass proving to be as decisive as the barriers or climb on the course. Ann Schwartz was third on the day, with Erin Disterheft and Amanda Schaap rounding out the top five.
The Men’s Elite race was almost an hour later, and while the rain let up considerably, the ground was damp for their race as well. They faced equally difficult conditions due to the patches of damp and dry; take too wide a line, even by a few inches, and the grass there could be slick. Crashes divided the race early, though Brad White and Sven Baumann were out of the bunch in a few laps, chased hard by Adam York, Scott Hoffner and Jeff Weinart. Those five went on to hold their places, but the battle behind was fierce. Chad Wells rode with his familiar calm and finesse, deftly breaking the top ten by riding what appeared to be an error-free ride.
All of these riders, and the entire top tens from the Elite races, stand to pick up some valuable points heading into the next Top Banana Competition stop at Battle at the Burg next weekend.