Wednesday, November 26, 2008

VanMeter, Sager harvest Kruger's Crossing wins

Another unseasonably dry Oregon afternoon greeted more than 500 competitors Sunday, Nov. 23, at the Kruger's Crossing Cyclocross Classic, the closing race of Portland's local 'cross scene before the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix comes to town Dec. 6 and 7 for its finale.

Held on Sauvie's Island, an agricultural area and migratory bird sanctuary about 20 minutes from downtown Portland, the course sent riders careening along rutted farm roads, through berry fields, pastures, a barn, over a pile of pumpkins and past a dead rat. Oh, and of course, the obligatory beer garden and bonfire.

River City Bicycles' Emily VanMeter made the women's race a battle for second place as she burst from the starting line to gain a dominant lead that the rest of the field struggled in vain to close. VanMeter's teammate and Cross Crusade series winner Wendy Williams finished second, nearly a minute behind. Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Bicycles/Stumptown) rounded out the top three two minutes later.

In the Elite Men's race, Shannon Skerritt (Vanilla/Stumptown) set a blistering pace for the hole shot and then settled in with a handful of leaders that eventually pulled away from the rest of the field. With the group's lead looking insurmountable, Eric Sheagley (Veloce Racing) charged away from the rest for several laps and built a lead of about 15 seconds on Skerritt, Cross Crusade series winner Jason Sager ( and Ian Brown of River City Bicycles.

Skerritt countered Sheagley's move and passed the Veloce rider with about four laps to go. Building a lead of as much as twenty seconds, Skerritt seemed to be pulling away from Sager, Brown and Sheagley, who dangled behind the top three after his solo effort.

Sager and Brown combined their efforts to whittle away at Skerritt's lead before Sager shed his chase companion and set out alone to reel-in the leader. Sager quickly caught Skerritt, and the two riders stayed together until Sager launched a final burst for the line, leaving Skerritt to finish a handful of seconds behind. In the battle for third, Sheagley caught and passed Brown, nipping the River City rider for the final podium spot.


Emily VanMeter rode away from the competition to an impressive win in the Elite Women's race.

The dry weather made for a fast course.

Shannon Skerritt won the hole shot and led the Elite Men's race late.

Eric Sheagley gained an early advantage but settled for third.

Ian Brown helped eventual winner Jason Sager chase Skerritt, but he fell off the pace and finished fourth.

Despite the dry weather, promoters managed to find some mud.