SUN PRAIRIE, Wisc. (VN) — Katerina Nash (Luna) made it look easy on a course than was anything but on Sunday during round two of the Planet Bike Cup.
The second race in the 2011 U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series’ first weekend looked nothing like Saturday’s opener. The sun was out by the time the women took the course, but heavy rain earlier left the 1.5-mile course a quagmire and the riders were inching around it in hopes of keeping the rubber side down.
Lap times were dramatically slower than on day one — as in three or four minutes slower — and the women would complete only four laps on Sunday.
French champion Caroline Mani — who is racing in the U.S. while completing a business internship at SRAM headquarters in Chicago — grabbed the holeshot prime, charging off the pavement at the end of the start-finish straight. It would be the last time she and her bike would be clean as she turned onto the soggy grass.
The first turn was less profitable for Canadian mountain bike star Emily Batty, who went down in the turn with local Alyssa Severn. Both remounted but never got back into contention.
Nash and teammate Georgia Gould grabbed the lead early on and the pair rode together most of the first lap, until Gould slid out on a tricky off-camber downhill turn just after the course’s run-up section. Gould floundered a bit — somehow one foot wound up inside her frame’s triangle — and then Nash was gone for good.
“I really enjoy racing in these conditions,” Nash said afterward. “The mud is cool. I focused on improving my lines through the sections. I didn’t make any huge mistakes but I made plenty of little ones. I can always improve,” she said.
Next time up the run Gould had fallen nearly a half-minute behind Nash, and she would get no closer. Mo Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles), who always seems to come to the fore when it gets muddy, was closing in on third placed Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), legging it strongly up the hill.
The third time around Nash was long gone, headed toward her second consecutive win of the weekend. Gould, likewise, was solidly in second.
Only third remained up in the air as Bruno Roy closed to within three seconds of Duke. But Duke, a former downhill racer, is no slouch in the muck, and held her own. When Bruno Roy made a mistake coming into the barriers on the last lap, Duke’s gap expanded and she grabbed the final spot on the podium.
Mani, coming back from an injury that kept her away from racing for eight months, was fifth. She said she had bag legs and was fatigued from not having much team support in the U.S.
“I love racing in America, the people are friendly and they love cyclocross,” she said. “I’d like to find a team and stay here.”
- 1. Katerina Nash, Luna, 40:15
- 2. Georgia Gould, Luna, at 0:56
- 3. Nicole Duke, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, at 1:55
- 4. Maureen Bruno Roy, Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles, at 2:09
- 5. Caroline Mani, at 3:22
Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) slipped to ninth place on the technical and slower Sunday course. Photo: Wil Matthews
Elite men stage behind the Avid Shortly Ultimate Holeshot start banner before Sunday's race. The threatening clouds gave way shortly after the start with heavy rain. Photo: Wil Matthews
Off-camber sections of the course that were rideable on Saturday were barely runable after Sunday's rains. Photo: Wil Matthews
USGP Elite Women's series leader Katerina Nash (Luna) sails over the uphill-approach barriers mid-way through the Sunday race. Photo: Wil Matthews
McDonald warms up
Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) stayed sheltered under the team tent during the afternoon rainstorms, but went on to redeem his difficulties from Saturday by winning the U-23 race. Photo: Wil Matthews
Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) shows the toll of his efforts from Sunday's USGP Planet Bike Cup after crossing the finish following seven technical and difficult laps. Photo: Wil Matthews
Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) scans the course after dropping Yannick Eckmann (Pearl Izumi) who would settle for second. McDonald and Eckmann were trading the U-23 lead up to the final lap. Photo: Wil Matthews
Wellens goes well
With two laps to go, Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) had a 15-second gap over the Page-Trebon duo, and held it to the finish where his victory earned him the USGP series leader's jersey. Photo: Wil Matthews
Driscoll swaps bikes
Jamie Driscoll (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) takes a bike swap during the heavy rains in the first half of the Elite Men's race. The sodden course kept pit activity high. Photo: Wil Matthews
Peeters grabs the holeshot prime
Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) takes the Avid Shortly Ultimate Holeshot award in the first turn ahead of Saturday's winner Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus.) Photo: Wil Matthews
Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) takes a quiet moment at staging before the start of Sunday's Elite Men's race. Page turned around his performance from Saturday by staying active in the lead group and securing second place in Sunday's race. Photo: Wil Matthews
Katerina Nash (Luna) celebrates her victory in Sunday's USGP Planet Bike Cup following a dominating ride through a technical and slippery course. Photo: Wil Matthews
Wellens warms up
Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) warms up before the start of the Elite Men's race. Wellen's victory Sunday placed him in the USGP leader's jersey. Photo: Wil Matthews
Mo bike change
Mo Bruno Roy (Bob's Red Mill) takes a clean bike during Sunday's elite women's race from Matt Roy while Cannondale team manager Stu Thorne lends a hand in the background. Bike swaps are less common in the women's races owing to 45-minute race duration, but Sunday's mudfest had many riders swapping bikes every lap. Photo: Wil Matthews
Nicole Duke (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) held third for the majority of the race, maintaining a comfortable gap over her chasers but unable to close the gap to the Luna duo of Nash and Gould. Photo: Wil Matthews
Georgia Gould (Luna) leads teammate Katerina Nash on the second lap through the infield. Nash surged past Gould when Gould fell on a tricky turn after the run-up, and maintained the lead to the finish. Photo: Wil Matthews
The Luna Chix warm up
Georgia Gould (Luna) warms up with teammate Katerina Nash shortly before the Elite Women's race. Photo: Wil Matthews
The heavy rain throughout the day left the grassy venue saturated and sloppy. Photo: Wil Matthews
Batten the hatches
Morning rain gave way to afternoon thunderstorms, which drenched the Sun Prairie venue. Photo: Wil Matthews
Christian Heule (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) watches the rain from the comfort of the team compound a few hours before the start of the Elite Men's race. Photo: Wil Matthews
McShane masters the masters
Mike McShane (Bob's Red Mill) solidified his lead in the USGP Masters 45+ series Sunday. McShane has targeted the 2012 UCI Masters World Championships, which will be held in his hometown of Louisville, as a major competition goal. Photo: Wil Matthews