Race 3 – 2011 North Mecklenburg Cyclocross Series

Originally Posted November 29 2011

Huntersville NC – By Jon Clark

Proper cyclocross weather finally came to the Carolinas for the last round of the North Meck Cyclocross Series on Tuesday night. Racers were challenged with a wet, windy course and temperatures in the high 30’s.  Afternoon rain tapered off before registration opened, but the course got slick and muddy as the night went on.  Promoter Neal Boyd setup a slightly less technical course for the conditions, and DeFeet provided some nice prizes for the final round podium finishers.

Mike Kelly (Carolina Bicycle Company) continued his winning ways in CX Masters 35+, getting off to a fast start with Bob Pugh (Fiets Mann) and John Koury close behind.  Bruce Stauffer (Cool Breeze Cyclery/Trek Bicycle Store) caught Pugh for third, but lost traction in a muddy corner on lap 2 costing him several positions. As Kelly eased away on the front, Koury picked up the pace and began to chase the leader down. Darren Fuller caught and passed Pugh as Jason Wilson was bunny-hopping the barriers on his mountain bike in fifth place.  Kelly held off the charging Koury to sweep the series with four wins, followed by Fuller, Pugh, and Wilson.

Erica Dillon of the Giordana-Clif Bar-Brica team was the only CX Women’s entry, running the 30 minute race along with CX4.

One of the largest CX4 fields of the series came out to brave the wet conditions, and two newcomers were off the front quickly. Chris Wieczorek and Tomas Kelemen opened a gap to a group of six chasers who were all battling for position through the opening laps.  Rodney Almeida (Try Sports) and Wes Walden (Live it Extreme) came out of the pack and began to bridge up to the leaders.  Kelemen began to fade as Walden got around Almeida to take up the chase.  With one lap to go, Walden passed Kelemen for second as Almeida tried to come with him.  Wieczorek soloed in to win ahead of Walden, and Kelemen held on for third with Almeida right on his wheel.

By the time the CX3/4 and CX Open races rolled off, the grassy corners were getting sloppy and the muddy spots started showing some ruts.  In CX3/4, Darren Fuller and Chris Sugar (Modry Evergreen Racing) rode together on the front for several laps with James Cole giving chase.  Fuller was leading when Sugar slipped and lost contact, but Cole could not catch Sugar for second.  Fuller rode alone for the balance of the 45 minute race and took the win over Sugar and Cole.

Teammates Robert Marion and Chase Dickens of the American Classic/Blue team had some competition this week as Jeremiah Dyer (SmartStop/MOB p/b Ridley) showed up to run CX Open. Entering his second race of the night, Bruce Stauffer held on to the trio for the first lap but eventually settled into fourth. After a few laps, a small gap started to open to Dickens in third, but he regrouped to attack Dyer while Marion covered him.  All three took turns on the front and often hit the barriers 3-wide, with Dyer and Dickens dismounting and Marion bunny-hopping over them. Dyer led the last 2 laps, but Marion attacked in sight of the finish and held on for the win.  Dickens beat Dyer back to the line for second.

Racers only have a few days to rest before the Crossroads Grand Prix cyclocross race in nearby Statesville on Sunday December 4th. Info for that event and final results for the North Meck Cyclocross Series.

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