On a sunny and almost balmy day at the USA Cyclocross National Championships, Gina Hall (CalGiant) didn’t let her last row start deter from going for the Stars and Stripes in the Masters 45-49 race.
“I had a last row start so I was very concerned about being able to move through the field, so my goal was to try to get to the front as soon as possible.” Hall said a few minutes after claiming her second national title.
She continued, “There was a couple of crashes so that helped me to move up and then I found myself on the front and decided to attack and just go for it because I didn’t know how my fitness compared to everybody else so I wanted to get a gap as soon as possible. And then that seemed to work out for me, I love the slippery downhills so I think that played into my skills.”
Hall immediately hit the gas, getting a gap at the front by the first lap of the 40-minute race. Every hour the course conditions had been changing, from icy ruts in the morning to muddy spots, some greasy, by the time Hall started at 11:30am.
“You need fitness but you also need finesse because of the turns where you can fall down easily so if you put too much power into a corner you’ll go down so you definitely need fitness but you can’t just power this whole thing.” Hall said. “It will be interesting with the elites, things may change.”
Behind her, Antonia Leal (Planet Bike) mounted a strong chase, slowly whittling away seconds on Hall’s lead.
“I was definitely concerned because she did close it down.” Hall said of Leal. “I didn’t have a lot left so I was like well, I’ll just keep going, she may catch me, I was wondering if she would, she was tough definitely.”
Though the title seems almost certain by the final lap, Hall was not celebrating until she crossed the end.
“Until I cross the finish line, I never let it get to my head that it’s done because you can always fall. I’ve done that many times where I thought that I had a race in the bag and then you’ve lost it on the last lap so I just kept trying to push it but be careful on the corners.” Hall commented.
Hall rode smoothy to claim her second title. Leal was second and Stacey Barbossa (Elite Endurance Training Systems) surged up to take third.
Unfortunately, due to work commitments, she will not be racing at the Masters World Championships in Louisville, KY nor will she start in the Elite Women’s race.
A couple of hours after her race, Hall was running all over the course cheering on her husband Norman Kreiss, also of CalGiant, who was battling at the front of the Masters Men 55-59 race. Ultimately, Kreiss finished second behind legend Paul Curley (Mid State Cycling Club-Gear Works-Spin Arts Cyclery)) who won his 25th national championship of his career.
After his race, Kreiss quipped with a laugh, “I got to cook dinner now for a year until next Nationals given that Gina won.”
Top 5 Masters Women 45-49
1. Gina Hall (CalGiant) 40:38
2. Antonia Leal (Planet Bike) 41:25
3. Stacey Barbossa (Elite Endurance Training Systems) 41:45
4. Karen Hogan (Team Kappius) 42:22
5. Katrina Baumsteiger (Team Rambuski Law) 43:02