September 15, 2017 (Iowa City, IA) – Maghalie Rochette (Can) Clif Pro Team led the charge for Canada finishing 15th in the Elite Women’s race at the Jingle Cross C1 opener on Friday evening at the Johnson County Fairgrounds won by Kaitlin Keough (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling. Katherine Compton (USA) Trek Factory Racing was second and Caroline Mani (Fra) was third.
Michael van den Ham (Can) Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions Lifecare was the top Canuck In the men’s race won by Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus over Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions in second followed by his teammate Lars van der Haar (Ned) in third.
What a difference a year makes. In 2016, the Friday night racing at Jingle Cross greeted cyclocross racers with fresh mud, UCI C2 points, and for some racers, tired legs from racing the CrossVegas World Cup just two nights before.
This year the course was rock hard and dry and UCI C1 points were up for grabs at the Midwest UCI season opener under the lights. Although some top racers skipped Friday’s race, an impressive international field took to the start, including 13-time U.S. National Champion and former World Cup overall winner Katie Compton, Dutch star Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea), France’s Caroline Mani (Van Dessel) and Britain’s Helen Wyman (Kona).
In 2016, in heavy mud, Brit Helen Wyman took the Friday night win under the lights, but on a dry, hot and humid night this year, might some familiarity with such Midwest conditions be beneficial?
Many of the top stars were out to prove racing experience, not Midwest experience, would be key to winning the most UCI C1 points on Friday night. Katie Compton, winner of the 2016 Jingle Cross World Cup, took to the front with holeshot queen Van Loy sprinting to retain her crown and lead the 43-strong field up the infamous Mt. Krumpit run-up. Instead, Brit Nikki Brammeier squeezed by before the flyover to spread her wings and soar up the steep, rutted climb.
What goes up must come down, however, and on the first descent Van Loy and Compton were back at the front, racing to find clean lines in the long sand pit. The two were the first to descend Mt. Krumpit, and Van Loy led the group through the sand. Behind, hot on their wheels, was U23 Worlds silver medalist Ellen Noble (Aspire).
Noble was having an inspired ride, and looked determined to ride what others ran. She rode the Mt. Krumpit stairs, and hopped the barriers, but a first lap spill sent her chances of a podium crashing down.
Kaitie and Katie Break Free from the Field
Behind 26-year-old Jingle Cross veteran Kaitlin Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), was on the move. Keough, who has raced Jingle Cross since she was 15, was at home in Iowa City, just a few hours from her native Wisconsin. “I’ve raced here since I was 15,” Keough said about the Johnson County Fairgrounds course featuring Mt. Krumpit. “I excel at courses like this, the harder the better.”
Keough set about granting her own wish after a crowded first lap. She soon connected with Compton and drew out Canadian National Champion Maghalie Rochette (Clif Bar) to put pressure on the rest of the field.
Keogh hit the front with Compton, and within a lap the two dropped Rochette. Noble and Rochette took up the chase, and behind them, two Europeans, French National Champion Mani, who finished second at the 2016 Jingle Cross World Cup, and Wyman were roaring back to defend their Iowa City podium honors.
Keogh and Compton traded turns at the front, opening up their gap over the others as each of the seven laps went by leaving tthe others to fight for third. Keough was already studying her former coach. As the end drew closer, Keough believed her best chance for the win was for it to come down to a sprint, but wanted to avoid Compton opening up a gap on the descent.
“I tried to lead going into [the run-up], and then I noticed I had a little gap, I wasn’t really trying to attack,” Keough explained.
Intentional or not, it felt like an attack to an at-the-limit Compton. “She attacked going over the run-up, and then I had trouble in the sand,” Compton explained. “I kind of got off line and lost a bit of time there.”
An International Battle for Third
While the two Ka(i)ties battled for the win, behind, there was a suspenseful battle for third. While Noble and Brammeier faded and Mani and Wyman surged forward, former XCO mountain bike world champion Annika Langvad was out to show her mountain bike skills would be an advantage on Mt. Krumpit. She raced past more accomplished cyclocrossers and sat as high as fourth, before finishing sixth just behind a sprinting Ellen van Loy.
Mani had a strong fifth lap to surge into third, and by lap five the final podium was set.
Keough rolled home in front of her Midwest fans, with a big boost of confidence heading into Sunday’s World Cup.
Compton rolled in relaxed and content. “I did what I could, so I just tried to relax, and not bury myself too much,” Compton explained. “I like racing under the lights, it’s a C1, I need to get an effort on the course. It’s good, I want to race, it’s fun racing, it’s a great atmosphere. I want to try to race as I can, but I need to make sure I recover for the World Cup.”
Laurens Sweeck Powers to Victory on Fast Friday Night at Jingle Cross
Jingle Cross has evolved over the last two years. A typically snowy December event turned to a hot and humid muddy World Cup in 2016, and this year, emerged as a hot, dusty and bumpy punishing course. As a result, speeds were fast, with riders consistently turning in laps under six minutes.
One of the big questions heading into Friday night’s C1 event was which riders would take to the start line to chase after the big C1 points and get a warm-up in ahead of Sunday’s World Cup. Defending world champion Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) and his rival Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) did not race Friday night, but a number of the world’s top riders did.
A lead selection of Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus), Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions) and Michael Boros (Pauwels Sauzen Vastgoedservice) broke free from the rest of the field early in the race when the other riders could not match their blistering pace.
Europeans Establish Lead Early On
The early stages of the C1 event started with the Europeans establishing a long line at the front of the race. When the riders hit the Mt. Krumpit climb for the second time, a lead group of eight riders had established itself at the front, with American Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b/ Cyclocrossworld.com) chasing behind them in ninth.
The early animator from the large group was young Quinten Hermans. He opened up a small five-second gap back to Boros, Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions) and a host of other riders two laps into the ten-lap race.
Hermans maintained a small gap for another lap and a half before Laurens Sweeck and Michael Boros made the catch and established the lead selection.
Sweeck Makes His Move with Savvy and Power
Sweeck’s big move happened at nearly the midpoint of the race. Sweeck, Hermans and Boros were all riding together when the trio descended the Bobsled Bomb off of Mt. Krumpit and charged through the sand pit during the fifth lap.
The back half of Friday night’s Jingle Cross course weaved through a series of barns and then headed up and around a set of bleachers. It was in this section Sweeck made his move. He got a small gap on Hermans and then was able to deploy his massive power to exploit the gap through the long, flat start/finish straight. When the dust settled, he opened up a six-second gap back to his chasers.
“There was a technical part at the end of the lap where I was feeling I was getting faster half way through the race,” said Sweeck. “I went on the front of the group and I got a little gap. Then you had the long line at the finish, and I tried to get up to a high speed there.There was a small gap and then it was pushing to the end because Quinten was also strong.”
Hermans soon followed suit and opened up a gap to take over a solo second position on Mt. Krumpit.
For the rest of the race, Sweeck held Hermans at bay and kept the gap between the two at 10 to 15 seconds. Hermans at times appeared to close it a bit on the Mt. Krumpit climb, but Sweeck was able to take advantage of the power sections to open back up the gap over Hermans.
Sweeck was not challenged the rest of the race and won Friday night’s Jingle Cross C1 ahead of Sunday’s World Cup race.
Telenet Fidea Lions Roar Late
After Hermans broke out into a solo second, Lars van der Haar made the catch on Michael Boros and Jens Adams early in the sixth lap. Once with the other two, Van der Haar blocked the chasers’ effort and seal Hermans’ grasp on second place. The rare cyclocross teamwork worked, and Hermans hold on second swelled to over 30 seconds. .
With Hermans gone to a second-place finish, the battle to be decided was the one for third place. The trio battling for third stayed together for over two laps before Van der Haar roared up Mt. Krumpit with two laps to go to establish a solid solo third. He would not be challenged for the rest of the race en route to finishing third.
Jens Adams finished fourth and Michael Boros took fifth.
Cyclocross Racing Returns Saturday Night Under the Lights
The three-day Jingle Cross Festival continues Saturday night at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Saturday night’s race is a UCI C2 event, so many riders are expected to rest ahead of Sunday’s World Cup. The Telenet UCI World Cup race is Sunday afternoon. The women start at 2:00 p.m. Central and the men at 3:30 p.m. Central.
1. Kaitlin Keough (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling 50:21
2. Katherine Compton (USA) Trek Factory Racing 50:38
3. Caroline Mani (Fra) 51:03
4. Helen Wyman (Gbr) Kona Factory Team 51:07
5. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 51:20
6. Annika Langvad (Den) Specialized Racing
7. Crystal Anthony (USA) 51:33
8 Nikki Brammeier (Gbr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam 51:51
9. Courtenay McFadden (USA) 52:10
10 Rebecca Fahringer (USA) 52:23
15. Maghalie Rochette (Can) Clif Pro Team 53:15
22. Ruby West (Can) Cannondale/CXWorld Devo Team 54:57
37. Siobhan Kelly (Can) – 3 Laps
1. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus 1:00:40
2. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 1:00:54
3. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions 1:01:06
4. Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice 1:01:16
5. Michael Boros (Cze) Pauwels Sauzen – Vastgoedservice 1:01:20
6. Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions 1:01:33
7. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) 1:02:29
8. Stephen Hyde (USA) 1:02:39
9. Stan Godrie (Ned) Crelan – Charles 1:02:48
10. Diether Sweeck (Bel) 1:03:14
20. Michael van den Ham (Can) Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions Lifecare 1:05:12
34. Nicholas Diniz (Can) – 4 Laps
41. Isaac Niles (Can) – 5 Laps