Though Kaitie Antonneau (Marian University) and Mariske Strauss (Mars Hill College) were crowned USA Cyclocross National Collegiate Champion, for D1 and D2 respectively, on Saturday, their races couldn’t have been any different.
Antonneau and her teammate Coryn Rivera separated themselves quickly from the 23-rider D1 field but then before the first lap was over, Antonneau was solo off the front.
“I just started behind Coryn and I was just going to ride with her. I was just going to play it by ear and then she made a mistake and I just took the lead and I rode off. I made a couple of mistakes too but it was good, it was fun.” Antonneau said.
For the next three laps, Antonneau was off the front solo, looking and analyzing the course before Sunday’s big race, the Elite/U23 women’s race which will take place at the same time.
“I’m glad I raced today.” she explained. “I’m really glad I did because it got a lot of nerves away I think and I won’t be tense tomorrow because I got that out of the way, hopefully. And I know the course now because I did it at race pace. It’s hard pre-riding, no matter how hard I try, I can never get it race pace so I did, it was good.”
Antonneau wasted no energy in the race, giving a little wave when she crossed the line a winner. Rivera also rode solo to finish second while Emily Shields (Lees-McRae College) took third.
The 15-rider D2 field started one minute after the D1 but a few of the riders, including Strauss and Rebecca Gross (University of Denver), made their way through dropped riders from the earlier field creating some confusion for the spectators.
But Strauss was not confused, she knew that Gross was ahead and chased until the catch was made on the fourth and final lap.
“I had a bike change, got my new bike, squeaky clean again and actually chased down and caught her at the tech zone.” Strauss explained. “She went wide a bit and I took the gap and just put the hammer down from there. It was quite a nice cat and mouse game going on, it was well-done, it was an awesome race and great track out there.”
It was her first race with her college teammates. “My first race of this new season, I just came out of base.” said the South African rider. I had some nice weather in South Africa so I’m here for the first time with my collegiate team. I just wanted to thank them very much, all the sponsors. I just didn’t really know what to expect, I don’t know the people here so really stoked with my result. Well done to everybody out there.”
Gross took second and Kimberly Flynn (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga) was third.
Top 5 Collegiate Women – DI
1. Kaitlin Antonneau (Racine, Wisc./Marian University) 42:47
2. Coryn Rivera (Tustin, Calif./Marian University) 43:10
3. Emily Shields (Salisburry, N.C./Lees-McRae College) 46:01
4. Sarah Sturm (Durango, Colo./Fort Lewis College) 46:54
5. Katherine Shields (Salisbury, N.C./Lees-McRae College ) 47:16
Top 5 Collegiate Women – DII
1. Mariske Strauss (Mars Hill, N.C./ Mars Hill College ) 47:22
2. Rebecca Gross (Lakewood, Colo./University of Denver) 47:35
3. Kimberly Flynn (Hixson, Tenn./University of Tennessee-Chattanooga) 48:55
4. Elizabeth So (Washington, D.C./Georgetown University) 50:42
5. Niki Soderberg (Rochester, Minn./University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire ) 51:02