By Gianna Addario
---- — BEVERLY— Gabby Day was stuck in traffic last night and barely made it to the start line of last night’s fifth annual Fidelity Investments Gran Prix of Beverly. Lucky for Day, she checked in and made her way to the front of the pack just in time for the start of the women’s elite race.
As she battled with Beverly’s Crystal Anthony in the final half dozen laps around Cabot Street in the Garden City’s downtown area, Day crossed the finish line just in front of Anthony to emerge as the women’s champion in a time of 39:09.
“Crystal and I actually worked really well all race together,” explained Day. “We were both taking turns to try to keep the gap between the rest of the pack. I knew that coming into the last corner I needed to be in first, because it’s really tight. If you’re in second at that corner it’s a lot harder to win, so I was advised by some of the guys that I needed to be first and it worked.”
Day, a native of England, has been in the U.S. for five days now and has already established herself as a premiere rider. A pro racer back home, Day decided to enter the race along with her fiance, Jeremy Durrin (Easthampton, Mass.), who raced in the men’s elite class. Day came to the U.S. to be with Durrin for the next three months and train for cyclocross, which starts in September.
After a two-year hiatus, the women’s race returned to the Gran Prix, along with the men’s elite, amateur men’s and masters 40-plus men’s race.
“Instead of the three races we normally do in the four hour window, we wanted to fit in four races,” said race director Paul Boudreau. “We tightened up the schedule and that allowed us to have that women’s field along with the three men’s races.
“We’re getting a bigger turn out each year. The people of Beverly expect the race to happen now, so we’ve gotten over that hurdle of having to promote it.”
Anthony, who lives right around the corner from the race, just returned from Europe where she rode an eight-day mountain bike stage race. Anthony took a ride around the course earlier in the day to get a quick refresher on the turns and corners before the event started.
An avid mountain biker in the summer, this was Anthony’s third year competing in the Gran Prix, but rode in the men’s masters race the past two years.
“It was good practice, but I was really excited to see them get the women’s race back,” said Anthony. “This is right outside my front door basically, so it’s nice because I obviously know these streets very well.”
In the men’s elite race, which totaled 27 miles over the 36 laps, Beverly’s own Shawn Milne (53:58) captured the top spot as he raised his arms ahead of second place finisher Stephen Hyde. It was such a close finish that Hyde also raised his hands, but after confirmation from the photo finish, it was Milne who earned first place.
“The last half lap you just kind of go and whatever happens, happens,” said Milne. “Honestly I didn’t think I had it. I thought maybe I’d get fourth, but about 50 feet from the line I thought ‘I might actually get this.’ Raising my hands at the end there was a complete surprise as much as it was a celebration.”
Milne, in his ninth year of riding professionally, has won events such as the 2009 Air Force Cycling Classic and was selected to represent the United States at the 2002 and 2003 Under 23 World Road Race Championships. The 31-year-old speedster won the Gran Prix two years ago and made it to the podium the past four years he’s been involved in the race.