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Rebecca Gross wins Cross of the North #3 in strong intergenerational field

October 21, 2013
Rebecca Gross wins the 2013 Cross of the North #3

Rebecca Gross wins the 2013 Cross of the North #3 in a race that included women of all ages

[updated 10/23/2013]

Twelve year-old Katie Clouse (Canyon Bicycles) can easily hide among the adults in the women’s open start grid. She is tiny in stature compared to the women in their 30’s and 40’s who blew into their hands to stay warm before their Sunday morning race at Cross of the North #3 just outside of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Easy to spot at the front were Rebecca Gross (Raleigh-Clement), hungry for a win after a solid block of racing and top five results, and Karen Hogan (Team Kappius) who recently won Frisco Cross.

The whistle blew and the field sped away from the gravely grid. Gross won the holeshot and would stay out front to enjoy a solo win.

Kristin Weber (Boulder Cycle Sport) maintained a steady second with Gross in sight on an exposed course that packed some short but steep sandy uphills and keyhole turns past the start line.

After traversing the start area ridge the riders descended into a grassy bowl which they exited, rode alongside, and the re-entered to negotiate two sets of uphill railroad tie barriers.

Karen Hogan, Katie Clouse, and Melissa Barker (l-r) in Cross of the North #3

Karen Hogan, Katie Clouse, and Melissa Barker (l-r) in Cross of the North #3

Hogan disputed the remaining podium step with Clouse and Melissa Barker (GS Boulder/Studio 1 Dental). Their fitness similar, what separated these three riders was time, but not on the course. When the 48 year-old Hogan glanced back and saw the 12 year-old behind her, it was bit disconcerting.

“I started to calculate, ‘OK, I’m 48, so [I’m] her times four.’ It was like experience has got to be worth something, right? That’s what I kept saying to myself…I kept going through the calculation of years,” Hogan recalled after the race, smiling.

And so Hogan and Clouse ticked off the laps under a gray sky with Barker. Hogan, mother of three and a former masters national champion. Clouse, still growing and with a few years to go before she walks the halls in high school.

Kristin Weber

Kristin Weber

Up ahead Weber pushed to catch Gross. She came close. But the Raleigh-Clement rider had found her day and ideal dry conditions and said she likely gained seconds through the challenging section just after the start.

“Someone went in there and tamped down some of the ridges that had built up and it was like a rocket if you just relaxed through everything and let it rip,” Gross said after the race. “So I think I had a little bit of an advantage there.” A full day of racing had taken place the previous day in the same location.

It was near that section that Clouse dropped her chain in the bell lap. Appearing frustrated but calm, she re-engaged the chain. Then the sparks flew. She focused on Hogan and Barker and closed the gap caused by her mechanical.

“She was incredible,” Hogan later said about the junior. “The only reason I think that I still beat her – which was just barely – was because she dropped her chain; otherwise I think she would have had me.” Hogan continued, joking and playful as the women marveled over Clouse, “How did she get so good in 12 years? It took me 48 years…”

In the end Barker slipped past Hogan for third after second-placed Weber. Clouse claimed fifth behind Hogan.

The riders congratulated Gross as she talked about her result.

Rebecca Gross

Rebecca Gross

“I’m stoked. These women are so strong,” she said. “I don’t think you could live anywhere else and have such a competitive local field. So getting in the front and keeping that is a pretty legit accomplishment.”

The local win boosted her confidence. Speaking about last weekend’s UCI Boulder Cup and Colorado Cross Classic events where she placed in the top twenty, she added, “And I think last weekend in Boulder was a good confidence builder too. It’s just great to have all the fans there, screaming, and all the juniors that I know from working with here and there were cheering and that really, really makes you want to push harder, show them that you can do it too, set the example…”

Ashley Zoerner and Katie Clouse in bumps

Ashley Zoerner and Katie Clouse in bumps

It’s not unusual in Front Range cyclocross for juniors to race in the open field. Fourteen year-old Ashley Zoerner (Groove Subaru-Alpha Bicycle Co) and teammate Allison Moorhead also competed in Sunday’s race. So did 16 year-old Ksenia Lepikhina (BMC XC Racing Team). Fifteen year-old Gage Hecht (Team Specialized Juniors) and other juniors regularly enter the men’s open races.

Juniors also wrangle against adults in the category 3 races. In fact that’s how Clouse and Zoerner spent 45 minutes after an hour’s break from the women’s open race at Cross of the North #3. The two pulled away from the rest of the women’s category 3 field early and smashed it. Zoerner finished second and Clouse, first.

The future is now. Ashley Zoerner and Katie Clouse after SW 3 finish.

The future is now. Ashley Zoerner and Katie Clouse after SW 3 finish.

For full results see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.

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