The run of good weather for the Greenville Spring Series came to an end. Constant rain and cold temperatures was what the brave riders were going to have to endure at the River Falls course in Marrietta, South Carolina.
The River Falls course is a beautiful loop in the mountains off of highway 25. The lap is only a little over five miles but the finish line is just over the crest of a one kilometer climb. This ascent isn’t super steep, but if the fitness isn’t there this is where riders get dropped.
Team Headstrong rider Cristina Lindsey led the omnium competition followed by her teammates in second, third and fourth. With only two days of racing left in the series it looked unlikely that anyone could unseat a Headstrong rider from taking the overall. While overall glory was gone there was still going to be fierce competition for that day’s race.
The horrible weather conditions kept the ladies in check for most of the race. However on the third lap of five the attacks started. Erin Burton surged on the climb splitting what was left of the group. The group reformed but a selection had been made.
On the final ascent Burton attacked again crossing the line two bike lengths in front of Giselle Weekes (Team Headstrong) with Erica Zaveta crossing the line in third. The omnium leader continued her grip on the top spot of the competition by rolling across in fourth.
The rain did not let up at all for the men’s race and chief official Glenn Thrift asked the pro 1/ 2 field if they wanted to cut the race short a couple of laps. However the riders were committed to the full ten laps in what was to be an unrelenting downpour.
The RealCyclist.com team, which had been cleaning up in the series, was absent. Also missing out on racing in the rain was George Hincapie. He had officially started his European season Saturday with a 15th in Italy’s Strade Bianche road race. Still lining up in the rain was the Team Type 1 devo team as well as the other strong development squad, the Hincapie Sportwear team. A rider who had also been doing well in the series was Charles Hutcheson of XO Communications. While he hadn’t scored a win yet, with the big teams missing today it might be his chance. Another lone rider was Phillip Gaimon of Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder. Greenville native and Furman college student Andy Baker had returned from his Bissell team training camp in California. While he wasn’t expecting much having just returned to the South the day before, you can never count Baker out. Naturally the rain was going to be a big factor in attrition.
As expected the first lap up the climb split the group. A breakaway of ten riders got just a few hundred meters gap from the main field. In the group were two Hincapie devo riders, a couple of Type 1 riders and Baker. Behind the group riders were already feeling either the sting of the climb or just tired of having water splashed into their eyes as rider after rider pulled into the parking lot and jumped into their warm cars.
Thrift made the call and shortened the race to eight laps. By halfway the break was still hovering at less than a minute gap but surprisingly Kenda Pro rider Gaimon was sitting in the main peloton. Speaking to riders who knew Gaimon they vouched for his strength and said he could easily bridge across.
Sure enough with two laps remaining Gaimon was across the gap and in the break.
With one lap remaining the break was down to nine riders with three desperately chasing. On the backside of the course Gaimon attacked and Team Type 1’s Joey Rosskopf went with him.
“It was just the two of us off all the way to the finish,” said Rosskopf.
Up the one kilometer climb to the finish line Gaimon led possibly thinking he would burn off Rosskopf. However the Type 1 rider latched on to his rear wheel and at the top of the climb Rosskopf came around taking the win.
Rosskopf has had a consistent series and this was the accumulation of a lot of hard work.
“I felt good these past two weeks, but I’m still working out some things. Last week (Donaldson Center road race) I was fifth out of a six man break, which is terrible for me. Usually my sprint is a lot better than that. I have little things like that to work out.”
For Gaimon this was a “nice week of racing” as he made his way to Maryland. While it was still raining the Kenda rider wiped off the road grit and prepared to ride for another hour in the rain.