BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — Georgia Gould (Luna) destroyed the women’s field on Sunday at the Boulder Cup.
Carmen Small (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) got the ball rolling on the hilly Valmont Park course, leading for much of the first lap until Nicole Duke (Raleigh-Clement) took over with Gould lurking in third.
Coming through the start-finish and onto the first climb Small drilled it, leading an eight-rider group. Gould was right there with her, sitting second wheel. Small, a road racer by trade, knew she had to take advantage of the long power sections spread across the East Boulder course.
“I can dig pretty deep and I’m competitive, so I have that going for me,” said Small. “I tried to recover on the technical spots and go in first and then I have the power, so I’m not worried if it goes down to a sprint. On all the power sections I’m pretty good, just because of the road, but it’s kind of like I have a lot to make up.”
But Gould was just too good, giving it the gas on the bigger of two staircases, opening an advantage of several bike lengths and then extending it dramatically.
“One of the things I love about this course is that set of stairs because so often in ’cross races, the running sections are not long enough to make a difference,” said Gould. “I like sections like that that make a difference, where it can cost you time or you can gain time.”
By the time Gould topped the stairs she had a 10-second gap. Amanda Carey (Volkswagen Boise Cycling) led the chase, but the pursuit was making no headway. Going into lap three Gould already had a 20-second lead over a chase group containing Small and teammate Amanda Miller; Carey; Elle Anderson (LadiesFirst); and Pepper Harlton (Juventus).
With another lap in the bag Gould had 32 seconds over Small, Carey and Anderson, and she was showing no signs of slowing down.
“I just wanted to make it a hard race and really just go out there and give it everything I had,” said Gould. “I know a lot of heavy hitters will be (at Louisville in two weeks), so I didn’t just want to go out there and take it easy today. I pretended like I was chasing and like I was being chased.”
Heading into the bell lap Gould had an insurmountable lead — 53 seconds — and barring catastrophe there was no doubt that she would win. The only question remaining was who in the chasing trio would be shut out of a podium spot — they seemed evenly matched.
Small won the lottery for second, and Anderson pipped Carey for third.
“I’d attack every time up the hill and then try to stay ahead as much as possible. I knew the last lap I had to stay on the front,” said Small. “If it comes down to the sprint I’m not worried. I have a pretty good sprint.”
Anderson wasn’t certain she’d taken the final podium spot.
“I didn’t know. I just threw my bike and didn’t know if I got the exact timing or not,” she said. “I’m really happy.”
But Gould, who shared her Olympic bronze medal with young fans after the race, had long since hit the finishing straight with a grin, high-fiving spectators all the way to the line.
“It’s a really great course out here,” said Gould. “I think it sort of favors a mountain biker. There’s lots of cornering. I was just feeling good out there. I wanted to ride as fast as I could.”
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Boulder.