PORTLAND, Ore. (VN) — The women’s race at Saturday’s Stanley Portland Cup quickly turned into a two-woman contest, with Katerina Nash (Luna) getting the better of teammate Georgia Gould in the final meters.
Round seven of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross at Portland International Raceway in Oregon saw comparatively dry conditions for the Pacific Northwest — in large part because of the howling winds, gusting to 25 mph, that dried out most of what had been a soggy, muddy 1.8-mile track.
Series leader Gould shot out to an early lead and avoided a massive pileup when a barrel blew across the course near the end of the starting straight. Linnea Koons (Embrocation Cycling Journal) saw the mayhem.
“I just happened to be out of the way of everything,” she said. “People were falling and I could get around them. All of a sudden I looked up and it was Sue Butler, Wendy Simms and me together.”
Gould held a five-second advantage for nearly a full lap until bobbling in a muddy, BMX-style stretch and allowing Nash to latch on. Then the two quickly set about building an insurmountable lead with three laps to go, as Butler (Hudz-Subaru), returning to racing after nearly a month of battling a sinus infection, soldiered along a very distant third.
“It was just really hard coming back,” said Butler, whose season was off to a good start before being derailed by illness. “I was in the pain cave from the start, so I didn’t notice anybody around me.”
Simms went over the bars and crashed hard in a slick corner, springing Koons into a solitary – and solid – fourth position.
Behind, Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized) was lassoed by a long section of windblown course tape and yanked out of contention. It was the second time in as many weeks that the 2009 U.S. national championship silver medalist has been taken down by the tape after she went flying over the handlebars at Jingle Cross Rock.
With two laps remaining Nash took a slight lead over Gould as the day’s breakthrough rider, the Kiwi Koons, fought to close in on Butler.
“I got a piece of course tape or something stuck in my cassette and that’s when the gap opened up,” said Gould. “Katerina’s not stupid and she totally capitalized on that and put in a good, hard effort and made it extremely difficult for me to close that down and get back to her.”
Nevertheless, Gould reeled in her teammate and the two Luna riders were locked together as they hit the bell lap.
Gould and Nash traded attacks and counters in the finale — Gould took the front on the muddy section that had troubled her earlier, then Nash regained the lead as the two headed into the barriers. Gould was forced to chase on after dabbing a foot in a deep puddle, and after clearing the hurdles Nash took a small lead going into the final corner, just before the short stretch of pavement leading to the finish line.
And that was enough — Nash led out the sprint from the front and stayed there. Butler hung on for third at 1:49.
“Yeah, that was a good race. Georgia was riding super strong,” said Nash. “It was tough. We stayed together and it came down to the last section. The sprint finish was too short, so I definitely wanted to be up front.”
“It just came down to that last corner,” said Gould. “It just came down to both of us going as hard as we could out of that corner and she was faster than me.”
- SRAM’s Alex Wassman presented Koons with the Most Aggressive Rider award for her efforts. “It was my perfect race, which I’ve been working towards all year,” said the first-year professional mountain biker.
- A tough day for Amy Dombroski (Luna) got tougher when a local race fan caused her to crash as he went inside the course tape to cheer on riders, including Butler and Koons. Dombroski finished 16th.
- 1. Katerina Nash, Luna
- 2. Georgia Gould, Luna
- 3. Sue Butler, Hudz-Subaru
- 4. Linnea Koons, Embrocation Cycling Journal
- 5. Meredith Miller, Cal. Giant-Specialized
Editor’s Note: Brian Holcombe is a reporter with VeloNews. He covers all things racing in the U.S. and has been accused of attacking too much on the VN lunch ride.
— Online editor at large Patrick O’Grady contributed to this report.