2012 Olympian Lea Davison (Specialized) has had her eye on the stars-and-stripes jersey for the elite women's national championship cross country race for years. As she's steadily worked her way up the national and international ranks, she's won the super D and short track national titles and placed well at World Cups, but hitherto, the US cross country title had eluded her.
On a hot and humid Saturday afternoon at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania, Davison upset defending national champion Georgia Gould (Luna) for the win.
"It's been a big build-up to the race. Year after year builds on each other. You keep having fun and a good attitude, and it all comes together," said Davison. "I am absolutely thrilled. It's a little bit surreal right now. I've been going for this title for years and I'm so excited."
The battle royale expected between Gould and Davison ended much more quickly than anyone had expected. On the first lap, Gould crashed and flatted. After the race, Gould was not sure whether the crash caused the flat or vice versa.
While luck may have helped Davison toward her win, no one can deny that she's been having a stellar season so far while Gould has struggled with her season. Davison has won recent races such as the Windham and Subaru Cup Pro XCTs.
"It's too bad when it comes down to bad luck and crashes and flats, but I guess that's all part of it," said Davison.
Winning cross country nationals was a big aim for Davison's 2013 season. Having nationals on the east coast for the first time since 2008 provided added motivation for the Vermonter.
"The course was unbelievable. I think it did the east coast justice," said Davison. "It was technical, rooty and rocky and it was demanding the entire time. It required focus the entire time. A few times, I lost focus and would dab. I had to focus on keeping it smooth because the little mistakes add up."
She will get two more chances at earning additional stars-and-stripes jerseys this weekend. On Sunday, she will contest both the super D and the short track.
Davison will skip the Vallnord World Cup in Andorra next weekend to focus on the Pro XCT final, the Catamount Classic, in Vermont in two weeks.
"That's in my backyard - literally my home course," she said. "G-Form is paying out more prize money to the women than for the men to support women's racing."
"Then it's the Mount-Sainte-Anne World Cup and the World Championships in South Africa."