Over the past weeks, the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies cyclo-cross team has been around the world, with Crystal Anthony overseas for World Cup racing in Koksijde, Belgium, Jeremy Durrin in North America at the Supercross Cup UCI in Stony Point, NY, and the pair ultimately rendezvoused in Sterling, Massachusetts this past weekend for Baystate Cyclo-cross. Both riders took wins on Sunday’s UCI C2 ranked circuit.
Both riders claimed victory on Sterling soil in recent years, so expectations were high for the weekend. Saturday saw both riders finish 3rd in their respective races, leaving them hungry for more.
“After Saturday, we were both a little disappointed with how we rode,” said Anthony. “So we showed up Sunday with some extra fire.”
Anthony and Durrin claimed their wins on Sunday in decidedly different fashions. Presented with the added challenge of navigating a very slick and unpredictable course, Durrin capitalized on an early technical section and opened up a significant gap on the first lap.
“After the first lap, I just rode my own race and was able to keep putting time into the chasers behind,” said Durrin. “I was riding in the zone.”
Anthony opted to let the race come to her. “I took a conservative start, and capitalized on a tricky off-camber section where a lot of women were having trouble,” said Anthony. “I crashed a few times throughout the race, but I stayed calm and attacked several times on the final lap to ultimately get the victory. It was like racing in Belgium, but without the travel. I loved it!”
Prior to Baystate, Anthony found herself in the birthplace of cyclo-cross, fully immersed in some of the world’s highest level racing.
“The whole atmosphere is very different and energizing in Europe,” said Anthony about the World Cup racing. “Thousands of fans pay to come watch the races and eagerly seek out cards and autographs from the riders.”
She took full advantage of the demanding World Cup racing circuit, against some of the world’s best riders. Facing a monster of a course featuring sand, extensive sections of forced running and deep rut riding at her first race abroad, Crystal got off to a solid start, finishing 17th. The following day she made the trek to Holland for Superprestige-Gieten. With the first day of racing out of the way and the travel out of her legs, Crystal improved upon her finishing position from the day before and crossed the line in 7th.
“Racing in Europe was a great experience,” said Anthony. “It’s an elite sport over there so the courses are designed to challenge the best riders. I sometimes found myself concentrating more on the course itself than I did the other riders. I’m excited to be heading back to Belgium over the Christmas holiday.”
Meanwhile on American soil, Durrin negotiated a physically demanding Stony Point, NY course and hung tough behind a hard-charging Tim Johnson to finish 2nd. In typical fashion, Durrin got off to a blazing start and found himself in great position early on, finishing just four seconds in arrears of three-time elite national champion Johnson.
“This season has been a bit of struggle for me, with lots of ups and downs. With that said, between completing the exhausting Tour of Utah and getting married this fall, it’s been a truly amazing year,” said Durrin. “After some restructuring and a lot of rest, my fitness is getting back on track, albeit a little later than expected. I’ve been getting better and better each weekend, so I’m confident that I’ll be on top-form by nationals. Getting the win in Massachusetts is a big confidence booster heading into some of my major goals.”
The team continues this weekend at the Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, Oregon before heading to Europe to wrap up their racing campaigns in preparation for US Cyclo-cross Nationals in Boulder, CO on Jan. 11-12.
The 2013 top 5 results thus far show a developing battle between Anthony and Durrin:
1st – Baystate Cyclo-cross 2, Sterling, MA (UCI C2) – Jeremy Durrin
1st – Baystate Cyclo-cross 2, Sterling, MA (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
1st – Cycle-Smart International 1, Northampton, MA (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
1st – Lake Geneva Cross, Geneva, WI. – Tristan Schouten
2nd – MudFund Derby City Cup1 , Louisville, KY (UCI C1) – Crystal Anthony
2nd – Cycle-Smart International 2, Northampton, MA (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
3rd – Baystate Cyclo-cross 1, Sterling, MA (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
3rd – Baystate Cyclo-cross 1, Sterling, MA (UCI C2) – Jeremy Durrin
3rd – Colorado Cross Classic, Boulder, CO (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
3rd – Gran Prix of Gloucester 1, Gloucester, MA. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
3rd – Green Mountain Cross 2, Williston, VT. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
3rd – Green Mountain Cross 1, Williston, VT. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
4th – MudFund Derby City Cup 2, Louisville, KY (UCI C1) – Crystal Anthony
4th – Boulder Cup, Boulder, CO. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
5th – Cycle-Smart International 2, Northampton, MA (UCI C2) – Jeremy Durrin
5th – Providence Cyclocross Festival 1, Providence, RI. (UCI C1) – Crystal Anthony
5th – Gran Prix of Gloucester 2, Gloucester, MA. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
5th – Trek Collective Cup 2, Waterloo, WI. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony
5th – Trek Collective Cup 1, Waterloo, WI. (UCI C2) – Crystal Anthony