Charlotte, Cyclo-cross

North Carolina CX Series Number 5

Charlotte hosted stop 5 of the NC state cyclocross series. A big crowd was on hand at Veteran’s Park, just outside center city. It was real cyclocross racing – the park had peak foliage, kid’s races, waffles, dogs, blankets and boots!
Robert Marion (Robert Marion American Classic/Blue) got his second win in the series.

Robert Marion: “The Charlotte course is much better for me because I’m a mountain biker. Salisbury was more like a ‘dirt crit’. This was definitely more technical, more rolly, more on-off-on-off power which sort of simulates mountain biking – where early on you can get rid of the pack.”

Marion pushed the pace in lap two at the run-up hill and created a three man break. A loop in the tape near the pits caught his shifter and put him on the ground. He reconnected and used the hill to drop one of the trio. He spent the remainder of race trading off pace-setting with Alex Ryan (Champion System/Cannondale) – until the final lap.

RM: “I knew on the last lap I was just going to have to keep the pressure on and wear him down. And hopefully I’d have it in the sprint. Alex has a really good sprint if you give him a chance. We turned the corner coming into the finish in full sprint mode. It looked like I had a little more left in the tank at the end. It felt good but it could have went the other way.”

Marion’s two wins and three third place finishes, puts him in serious contention to win the series.
RM: “ It’s pretty exciting. We do a lot of the UCI races and that sort of thing but the NC series definitely has more competition at the elite level than any other state or regional series that we ever raced. It’s such a great crowd of people and the USA Cycling officials that do these races are great and it makes it fun.”

Katherine Shields (Smartstop-MockOrangeBikes p/b Ridley) and her twin sister Emily Shields (Smartstop-MockOrangeBikes p/b Ridley) got first and second respectively – reversing their order from last week. Katherine held second wheel behind Allison Arensman (Fiets Maan CX–presented by: Studio7Multisport) for the early laps.

Katherine Shields: “Allison was with me for the first two laps – I was riding behind her. I came around her and I felt like I had an advantage on the technical sections. Once I got a gap on her I tried to keep the gap growing. Once the gap got pretty good, I had a feeling that I had [the win] but I was kind of nervous because there was like five laps to go.“Shields had no problem pacing herself, alone at the front.”

KS: “I really like this course. We had a college race yesterday, so I was kind of sore. But, there was just enough recovery on this course where I could fly on the fitness sections, then recover on all the little turns and stuff. I like the variety. Sand pits are fun!”

Her disciplined approach for the run-up hill paid off.

KS: “I was just rolling up the run-up hill and unclipping near the top. I run cross country, so I didn’t feel like I was wasting energy – I felt fine doing it that way. Some of the guys I was catching would stop pedaling at the top and I would just run by them.”

The series hits the midway point as it intersects with the national UCI series in Hendersonville next Saturday and Sunday.

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