The Colorado Girls Battle for Third
Duke and Stetson-Lee, both mountain bikers from Colorado, and both enjoying breakout pro seasons, never strayed too far from one-another in the second half of the race.
“When Teal came around, I stayed calm,” Duke recounted. “I told myself to be patient.” Duke was able to hold Stetson-Lee’s gap to ten seconds as she rode one of the few crash-free races.
“Some of my strength came back. We came into this road section and I could just feel myself creeping up a little every few hundred meters. I knew that I had her the last lap.”
Stetson-Lee was on fire during her ride up to Duke, but her flame fizzled a bit toward the end.
“I think I blew out some of that extra energy as I was chasing [Duke] and [Antonneau] down for the first half of the race. I could see them right up there. So you work extra hard to close that gap. And once I did close it, I held it for a lap. Then on the final lap my legs started cramping up a bit on the climbs … I was dreading her going by me, because I could feel my legs starting to cramp … She rode a smart race.”
Duke made the move on the final lap and cruised in comfortably for the bronze.
New Girls on the Block
Duke and Stetson-Lee improved dramatically over their performances last year, as did Antonneau. Apart from Compton, none of the podium bore any resemblance to nationals podiums past.
Compton, Antonneau’s coach, was gushing with pride about her protégé at the finish.
“I think I’m more happy for [Antonneau] than for me,” Compton said. It’s such a huge jump she made from last year. She’s better now than I was at her age. So if that’s any indication of how well she’s gonna be riding in ten years, it’s scary.”
Coryn Rivera, a criterium racer, and Antonneau’s roommate at Marion College, picked her way through a group of elite women including Merideth Miller and Sue Butler and rode to fifth place in the elites and second in the U23s.
“I had no idea I had that in me,” Rivera said. “I had a good start, a lot of luck on my side and just kept trucking.”