I did a preview last year for Charm City, so it's been a while. Here's my take on the top contenders going into this weekend's B Race at Granogue. Please don't take this too seriously. It's only for fun.
1. Evan Ellicott 33 Tacoma Park, MD
Ellicott is an incredibly strong rider and the top returner from last year's B race at Granogue. Though he only raced three times in the MAC last season, Granogue was actually his worst performance (4th). He was runner-up at Lower Allen as well as the season ending Capital Cross Classic. A horrific crash at the Tour de Toona this year sidlined him until last weekend when he finished 5th in A race at Iron Cross Lite. He made a transfer this year to team n-tieractive / Bike Doctor-Waldorf.
2. Daniel Brill 35 South River, NJ
Riding for Team Beacon again this season, Brill will be trying to improve ever so slightly and pick up that elusive win. Last season he finished no worse than 13th and as high as 5th at Granogue. He's a true Stalwart of the MAC and a force to be reckoned with. Not only that, but this year he's old enough to race Masters--at least after he gets to his unfinished business in the B Race.
3. Ethan Townsend 24 Wilmington, DE
There are few on the East coast who can match the starts of this local rider. As a member of the DCCofD as well as the powerful C3-Sollay.com team, he's out to prove this year that he can do more than take home the first lap preme. He finished 9th last season at Granogue, but this season he's already won twice on the MABRA circuit, taking the top step of the podium at Charm City as well as Hagerstown. With the inside scoop on the course, there's little doubt that E-Town will be in the lead group when the going gets tough.
4. Jeremy Dunn 27 South Boston, MA
Any rider making the trek down from Southie each weekend of the MAC should be feared and Dunn is no exception. Last season he got better and better each week, eventually racing in to top form and stealing two wins from the Mid Atlantic on a muddy New Jersey weekend. With Granogue expected to be dry and as fast as ever, that doesn't favor him, but with results like his and did I mention he's from South Boston? Watch out. He's also battle-tested having finished just behind Lyne Bessette up at New England Worlds. He races for Cambridge Bicycle / Igleheart Frames, the bike shop nearest to my alma mater, MIT.
5. Eric Linder 28 Baltimore, MD
The only man to interrupt Townsend's streak of MABRA victories was this man. Riding in green and black for the always strong HVB team, Eric Linder is their man for the B Series this year. He's got big shoes to fill, taking over for last year's MAC Series winner Greg Lindstrom and MABRA series winner Todd Hesel. With his performances so far, he's proven he's up to the challenge, but we'll have to wait and see what he can do on the MAC stage.
6. Marc Vettori 36 Elkton, MD
Easily the biggest celebrity rolling up to the start line at Granogue this year is Fatmarc Vettori. He too has moved over to the C3-Sollay.com squad this season and has made quite the impact in the MABRA Masters B category. Each week he finished on a different step of the podium, starting with a win at Charm City, and each week the press kept giving this man the win. He's so popular he wins without even being the first across the line. Is it the moviestar good looks, the lack of a pink helmet, or the coach? Everyone wants to know. Maybe we'll find out here on his home course. Last year he was 8th.
7. Erik Leaver 36 Silver Spring, MD
Fresh off his MABRA B series victory two years ago, last year didn't see much of Leaver on the MAC circuit. When it did, he did well, finishing third at the epic Highland Park race and 8th in the Beacon sand. It's hard to tell what form he has so far this season, but Leaver is a crafty veteran with plenty of skill for this race. Not having raced Granogue before may leave him at a disadvantage early on, but once he figures out the track, we might see the NCVC red and white at the front of the main field.
8. Kevin Kralik 23 Philadelphia, PA
Here's another top racer who benefited from that muddy New Jersey weekend last year, finishing 2nd and 3rd and Guy's and Evo. But he's not just a mud rider, he's already won once this season at Whirlybird and last season he won at Nittany Lion Cross. Other than those races, he's mostly an unknown rider, having no recorded experience on or off road outside of cyclocross season. There's no telling what to expect from this rider, but it would be a mistake to count him out when he's done so well on so little racing.
9. Patrick Bradley 17 Richwood, NJ
This is another Team Beacon rider with a lot to prove. Last season he won the C race and had a solid first season amongst the Killer B's. Now that he's added the muscle that comes with age, he's shown already this year that he's made the leap to be one of the top juniors (see also Gerlak and Bahnson) in this field. Can he win? Well, he's certainly lacking experience and the results, so we'll have to see. But there's no doubt that Bradley will be in the mix all season long.
10. Mike Stubna 31 Philadelphia, PA
It's a little odd to see such a strong road rider in the B field, but that's where we find Mike Stubna. He's well-known for his exploits on the powerful Meredith Group-GPOA road squad and now it looks as though he's out to prove himself in the MAC. Two years ago, he was experimenting in the elite field, but since he's been out of the cyclocross for a year, fighting amongst the other sandbaggers may be just what he needs to get his groove back. When he does, you'd better be ready.
11. Marc Bavineau 31 Beverly, MA
Bavineau proved he is amongst the best when he finished 15th at Nationals (B) last year. The only man in this field to beat him there was Ellicott. But there's no telling what we'll get from this New England rider. He narrowly missed out on a top ten at Gloucester last weekend, so we'll assume that he's battle hardened and not quite yet on top form. Will his introduction to the MAC go well? Plenty of Mid Atlantic racers are hoping to send him up the Jersey Turnpike empty handed. He races for Essex County Velo.
12. Morgan Gerlak 15 Baltimore, MD
Even at 15, Gerlak has acheived more notable results than most riders ever will, but there's still one result that he'd like to have and that's a B series win. He's been close now for a while, finishing second last week at Iron Cross Lite, and at last year's Evo MAC race. Is this the year that Morgan seals the deal on a win? It's hard to say with such top flight talent on his own team (C3). But he's got some of the best handling skills around and more experience on these MAC courses than just about anyone. With the engine getting better and better each year, I think we all know better than to count him out because of his age. Last year, he was 19th at Granogue.
13. Jeff Bahnson 14 Newark, DE
Trying to make a name for himself the way Morgan Gerlak has done, Bahnson showed he's capable at Charm City this year. At 14, the youngest rider in the race, he finished on the wide side of the podium and took home some schwag. He's young and inexperienced, so Granogue probably won't get his first B win this year, but it can't be too long before he's pushing the pace at the front of the field. He rides for C2S/Henry's Bikes. It's hard to believe this was him two year's ago.