Ben Berden Holds Lead in Cross After Dark Series at Cincy3
The Raleigh-Clement Cyclocross Team rolled to the Cincinnati International Cyclocross Festival this weekend for three days of full-tilt racing. One of the oldest cyclocross race weekends in the Midwest, the event encompasses three days of UCI ranked events in the greater Cincinnati area.
A highlight of the weekend was Raleigh-Clement team leader Ben Berden holding down top place in the Cross After Dark series, a 4-race collection of night races in which Berden is the defending champion. Here’s how it unfolded…
It all started on Friday afternoon at Devou Park, the first day of racing. The hilly course is one of the hardest on the U.S. circuit. Raleigh-Clement’s Allen Krugoff started fast and was one of the more aggressive riders in the early laps with teammates Ben Berden and Jamie Driscoll close on his heels. The pace was hot, and when the dust settled it was Ryan Trebon of Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com on top, with a hard charging Driscoll in 3rd, Berden 4th, and Krughoff 7th for a great team showing. In the women’s race, Raleigh-Clement’s Caroline Mani got off to her customary blazingly fast start but would unfortunately run into problems and abandon the race. Her teammate Rebecca Gross earned 10th place, while Katerina Nash was first.
Day two was the night event at Kingswood Park, a UCI Category 1 race, and stop 3 of the Cross After Dark series. Caroline Mani again had a fast start, but crashed hard in the first sweeping turn and was slow getting up. While the peloton swarmed past it wasn’t clear if Caroline was injured, but thankfully once untangled she reported nothing more than some heavy bumps and bruises and vowed to return for Day 3. Rebecca Gross was 11th and the win went to Katie Compton.
In the men’s race, Berden attacked the first lap and used the muddy and dark course to create a gap to the field. With a long string of dry, tactical races so far this season, Ben was definitely trying to make something happen. But veterans Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon knew exactly what a danger Ben can be in the mud, and they covered his move and eventually powered to a one-two finish. Berden settled for 4th on the night, but his consistency keeps him in the lead of the Cross After Dark series. Teammate Driscoll was 6th, while Krughoff ran into problems and not able to finish. The Cross After Dark series will conclude in Los Angeles, at the CXLA, on November 30th.
Day 3 was held at Harbin Park under sunny skies and a fast track. Caroline Mani put aside her crash from the day before and took a well-earned 6th place, with Gross in 13th. First place went to Katerina Nash, who out-sprinted National Champ Katie Compton. On the men’s side, it was Johnson again taking the win. The Raleigh-Clement boys fought hard to unseat the pecking order, and came close with Berden finishing 4th and Driscoll 5th.
Next week the Raleigh-Clement Team heads a few hours south to the MudFund Derby City Cup in Louisville, Kentucky for two days of racing at the site of last season’s World Championships.