It took a bit longer than usual but in the end, Katerina Nash (Luna) shook off her rusty legs, after a month off from racing, to claim another solo win at day one of the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, Oregon. As we discussed yesterday, the dusty and dry conditions were a complete turnaround from previous years of racing at the same venue for almost all the racers except for Nash who as a Czech citizen obviously does not race at US Nationals.
Luck, or mother nature, was on the Elite Women’s side because the blustery wind that blew on the previous races calmed down a few minutes before the start of the 40-minute race. Quickly after a fast start, Nicole Duke (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com) pushed the pace at the front with Nash on her wheel. The two quickly established a gap to a chase group behind until Nash crashed and Duke was off the front, but not for long. Nash, with her right side covered in black dirt, shook herself off and mounted a powerful chase. She quickly caught Nash, and then seeing an organized chase group behind her, she took off. Then it was as if her engine turned over because her lead went from 5 seconds to 30 seconds in a blast. With two laps to go, Nash was off for another win.
For the chase group behind, it was a game of cat and mouse and another strong solo chase. After a somewhat slow start, Teal Stetson-Lee (CalGiant) saw the riders ahead of her and decided to use her good legs to close the gap, which she did. Stetson-Lee caught her teammate Meredith Miller and Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) in the first chase group. Not only did she catch them, but she then proceeded to put the hurt on them before dropping the pair when she put her sights on a now solo Duke ahead. Inside of two laps to go, Stetson-Lee connected with Duke but a solo Miller was charging up behind.
Then, with half a lap Miller joined the duo and the battle was on for second place. Duke crashed out on a turn leaving the teammates to sprint it out with Miller taking second ahead of Stetson-Lee.
Katerina Nash (Luna). “I haven’t raced for a few weeks and have been really training a ton and it definitely took me a little bit to warm up in the first couple of laps. I had to get back to the on and off bike skills we practice. If you don’t race for a few weeks the skills go away pretty quickly. I would say my skills were rusty today. The second half of the race was really good for me.”
About early battle with Nicole Duke. “It was good. She was riding strong. She took off and got herself a little lead and I also took myself out. It was a minor and happened in the dusty section of the course. I had to recover from that and rode with Nicole a bit. I looked back and saw people were coming so it was time to put in another attack. It was nice to ride with someone for a bit. Nicole was strong today. She was good rider to be with today.”
About the conditions. “The course is what it is. In cyclocross it’s always a new challenge. I try to do my best on any type of course. It was certainly interesting out there today. The course kept me focused.”
Meredith Miller (CalGiant). “Teal came up from behind me and was able to ride past me and I was trying to play catch up to her. At some point, she caught Nicole, and then I was able to drop Julie. It was just cat and mouse, catch up, drop people all over the place out there.”
About finale. “I was a little worried because on that last quarter of a lap there’s not a whole lot of places to pass because it’s a lot of turns, Nicole took a corner a little too hot and went down, and so then it was just me and Teal. It was just game on between the two of us, I came around her at the top of the stairs, that last bit is hard to pass so once I came around her, then I was able to lead into the sprint and hold it.”
Teal Stetson-Lee (CalGiant). “I had a chance to access how they were handling turns in different sections of the course and I was feeling strong enough to just go for it, and once I put that attack in, picking those people off just built my confidence, and then I kept accelerating from there. The hardest lap was probably the third to last lap, because that’s when I realized that I had been working for awhile out there.”
About finale. “Nicole pulled ahead of me on the very last section of the final lap and then she went down on the corner, so I think it would have been a battle royale if she had been up because she had a little juice let in her but then it was just Meredith and I. And Meredith has that roadie sprint on her, I have to work on that, but if she beats me, I’m totally happy with that because I’m aspiring in her shadow right now anyway, she’s helping me get my leg up, I’ve got some time to get there.”
Top 10 Results
1. Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team)
2. Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)
3. Teal Stetson-Lee (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)
4. Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus)
5. Susan Butler (River City Bicycles/Ridley)
6. Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
7. Nicole Duke (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
8. Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt)
9. Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club)
10. Andrea Smith (Ladiesfirst Racing)