Events: OVCX Race Report #2 – BloomingCross
By Robert Annis Photos by Kent Baumgardt.
Papa John’s Niki Dallaire made it two victories in a row Sunday, while First Internet Bank’s Ryan Knapp made a triumphant return from injury to win the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series’ second race of the season.
Dallaire’s victory in the Elite Women’s race wasn’t without its share of pain. On the first lap, she tripped over the second barrier, sending her crashing to the ground. When she crossed the finish line roughly 40 minutes later, the skin around her left eye was already discolored and starting to swell. She admitted afterward that her vision was a little blurry after the fall, but she wanted to keep going, not just to win the race, but also for a more altruistic reason.
“If Faith (eventual second-place finisher Faith Montreuil of Team Louisville) sees me crash, I need to get up and go in order to set a good example,” Dallaire said. “It’s important to me to be a good role model, both on and off the bike for these young girls, so they don’t get discouraged and quit when things get tough or (other adversities).”
The layout for the Bloomington course has changed little over the years, but the conditions varied dramatically across the day. Heavy rain in the days leading up to the race left the course spongy and muddy early in the day, but as Sunday wore on, the course dried out in all but a few turns. Dallaire had her hands full with Montreuil and third-place finisher KK Santos (Be Real Cycling) all day, taking time on Montreuil in the flats and from Santos on the multiple uphills.
“I couldn’t sit up,” Dallaire, who has won the Bloomington races three other times in her career, said. “I was on the gas constantly. Cyclocross is such a squirrely sport — the race is never in the bag until you cross the finish line. But that’s what makes it fun.”
Knapp wasn’t sure if he would even attempt Sunday’s Elite Men’s race, having broken his wrist just four weeks ago. But racing in his hometown on a course he’s had tremendous success on in the past proved to be a powerful allure. After jumping a few curbs and doing some hard intervals on an urban ride Wednesday, he decided to take a chance. It proved to be a good decision.
“There was enough coasting and cornering on the course to allow me to fake it a bit,” Knapp said. “The first few laps I was just relearning how to ride my ‘cross bike.
The field was grouped tightly together the first lap, but soon spread out. Knapp, who has won the event three other times, would attack the group in the second lap, with only OVCX newcomer Michael Larson (A-D Bikes/Western Lithium/Velo Reno) managing to remain within striking distance. Knapp was able to take time on Larson in the turns thanks to his familiarity with the course.
“I’ve done this course quite a lot, so I know how it flows and the fast lines,” Knapp said. “I took the corners well, so that allowed me to keep my speed up and not work quite as hard.”
Larson was the biggest mystery in the field, with both spectators and racers asking where he came from. (The Reno transplant moved to Bloomington within the last month.) He would eventually cross the finish line a scant 14 seconds after Knapp. Both he and Knapp said the heat was particularly brutal during the race, with Larson cramping on the final lap.
“There’s nothing like a cyclocross race to remind you how long an hour is,” Knapp said. “When I saw there was four laps left, I (was thankful); if I had to be out there for longer, I probably would have cried,” he joked.
Team Upland Brewing’s John Yandl edged out Papa John’s Rob Kendall for third place, while Speedway Wheelmen’s Ryan Hubbs beat back young Enzo Allwein of the ProChain Junior Development Team for fifth.
The full results for Sunday’s race can be found here (PDF).