It was on for the start and the attacks didn’t stop in the Elite Women’s race on day 2 of the 20th Cycle-Smart International. A modified course with longer power straighaways, one less steep runup and wind led to a strong group splintering off on the first lap. The first riders then attacked each other, pushing the pace, taking advantage of each other bobbles, nothing “ladylike” about this race and oh was it fun to watch.
In the end, Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) took the win after escaping from the group on the final lap making it two for tow in Northampton. Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (crossresults.com/Pedalpowercoaching.com) won the sprint for second ahead of Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing).
“Okay here we go” went through Van Gilder’s mind as the hostilities started early on. Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (crossresults.com/Pedalpowercoaching.com) took the holeshot and it was on as she and Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill/Seven Cycles) pushed the pace hard on the first lap which caused the field to splinter leaving the two along with Van Gilder, Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing) and series leader Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles) off the front. Bruno-Roy kept pushing the pace trying to ditch the other riders but they stuck on, re-grouping after bobbles in the sandpit and up the run up.
The five stayed together until Bruno-Roy and Bresnick-Zocchi bobbled in the sand and that was enough for Van Gilder to take off and solo to yet another win. Behind her, the four re-grouped and the battle continued with Smith yo-yoing off the back. Time and time again, Smith had to close down a small gap but she did it and made it to the podium.
Smith’s third place was good enough to bring the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series leader’s jersey back onto her shoulders after losing it on Saturday.
Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes). “Mo was really pushing the pace early in the race and I was okay with that, I knew there were certain spots on the course that I wanted to lead or wanted to have a clean run. Certainly I didn’t have a great first trip through the sand but I just re-grouped as quickly as I can. I was okay with that, it’s windy today so I was happy to sit in a little bit, I felt that the stretches were long enough and there were spots to move up so I was content to let Mo dictate. If she felt that strong I said okay, I know Sally is strong, Andrea Smith and Sara, Sara had a great first lap too she was at the front, I though okay I don’t have to dictate but when the opportunity comes I’m going to make the most of it. Sally and I had a little gap and she said ‘let’s work together’ and [I said] ‘let’s do it’ and then she bobbled in the sand and I got away. I had a big gap and I thought ‘let’s just do this’, if I can just again ride all those bits clean, I felt that I could hold them. Again I don’t feel like I need minutes and minutes, certain days yes but today get to the finish clean and put in a big effort.”
About Bruno-Roy pushing the pace early on. “Mo has always been a strong rider and I never underestimate her any day or any time during the race. She was putting in some great efforts at the front and I thought ‘okay here we go’, I just have to stick with this. Kudos to her.”
Compare yesterday’s course to today. “Similar course, good flow. I thought there were longer power stretches but there was more wind today so I think that’s why you saw a dynamic of more riders, a little bit less technically as far as bobbles but yet they could cost you which I think then happened a couple of times. I think there were stretches that people could get back together and I think that’s why you saw the difference of yesterday.”
Is this win 372? Do you even know at this point? “I’m not really quite sure but if you do it long enough I guess that’s what happens you get to have a lot of victories and I’m very proud of that but I love racing my bike. The wins don’t matter the competition does.”
Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (crossresults.com/Pedalpowercoaching.com). “It was a good race all day. It was windy out there so it was hard to get away so we were all at the front throughout the race. Laura go a gap and we were just trying to catch, Mo was doing a bunch of work and we were going back and forth, everyone was riding really smooth, everyone did a great job. I really attacked coming out of the pavement in second, I just didn’t want to let it go I took it to the finish.”
Strategy when Bruno-Roy was pushing the pace. “I was sitting in and trying to stay out of the wind honestly, trying to come to the technical parts in a good position, trying to ride smooth. There were a lot of areas out there to make a mistake and everyone was just trying to not to make a mistake so we were just trying to ride smooth.”
About the final sprint. “I was able to come off the pavement in second place, I just didn’t want to give it up. I know that Mo has been working a lot on her sprint and I don’t take anything for granted, she’s a super strong rider so I just wanted to hit the pavement out front and give it all I had which happened, I was able to hold them off.”
Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing). “I went beyond empty. It was hard to yo-yo off the back and I don’t know what I found what I found to get back on the group but I was able to get back on several times. I could just hear this voice of Richard Fries in my head yesterday ‘you’ve got to sit in the sand’. That’s all I heard in the race today.”
About the dynamic of 5-rider attacking each other. “It was fun. It was kind of a cross race like you see in the men’s race where you have five people up front and there are attacks and different leaders so I think it’s also exciting for the fans, there’s not just one person off the front for the entire race. Every time we came off the top of the hill somebody else was probably in the lead, it kept it very exciting.”
Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles). “I just had no legs today, it happens, some days you have good legs some days you have bad days but it super fun, those guys were riding strong, it was fun back and forth the whole way.”
Top 10 Elite Women Results
1. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
2. Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (crossresults.com/Pedalpowercoaching.com)
3. Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing)
4. Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles)
5. Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles)
6. Arley Kemmerer (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes)
7. Carolyn Popovic (PAValleys.com)
8. Christina Tamilio (LadiesFirst Racing)
9. Linnea Koons (Embrocation Cycling Journal)
10. Nicole Thiemann (Team CF)