When a race is called Iceman Cometh, it is probably wise to expect a couple of slippery corners. But the Michigan late-fall XC classic caught out several of the top riders on Saturday. In fact, three of the top 10 men crashed on the same corner. Caught up in the Iceman mayhem was Ontario’s Tyler Orschel, who crashed while leading into the final metres of the race.
On the women’s side, Haley Smith narrowly avoided crashing in the same spot as she battled for the podium.
Mens Iceman Cometh chaos
Orschel led the race as a fast sweeping right corner on dirt transitioned to tarmac via a bump and a hard right turn. As several riders behind him would, Orschel couldn’t get his weight back over the tires and slid out. The Ontario rider was back up and on his bike quickly, but not fast enough to hold off Alexey Vermeulen. The ex-road pro was just far enough off Orschel’s wheel to avoid being caught up in the crash and ride away to victory.
Brayden Johnson followed three seconds in second, just beating out Traverse City, Michigan local Kyan Olshove. Orschel rebounded to hold onto a spot on the extended podium, finishing fourth four seconds off Vermeulen and on the same second as Toronto’s Noah Ramsay. Malcolm Barton of Uxbridge, Ont. finished sixth.
Andrew L’Esperance was next in line to crash out. Just as Orschel was getting up, L’Esperance went down in the same spot, also while in podium position. A few riders just missed hitting the downed Maxxis Factory Racing rider, including fellow Canuck Noah Ramsay.
Kerry Werner crashed next, also in the exact same corner. The U.S. racer was sitting in ninth when he washed out, nearly taking the rider behind him out too.
Crashing out of a win is a rough way to end the season, to be sure. But at least knowing two more top 10 riders made the same mistake within 30 seconds will make it sting a little less. Numerous riders further back in the field would fall victim to the same corner. And, if you’re looking for a silver lining, Orschel will likely be hungrier than ever going into the off-season knowing he’s on pace to win against North America’s top pros.
Women’s finish frenzy
For Haley Smith, the Iceman Cometh finale was just as frenzied. The Maxxis Factory Racing Canuck crashed just before the tricky corner, losing track of eventual race winner Deanna Mayles of Colorado Springs, Colo. in the process. Then Smith was right on Erin Osborne’s wheel…