On a typical New England brisk and windy late November day, Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) proved again that none of her rivals have an answer for her impressive sprint finish.
Natasha Elliot (Garneau Club Chaussure) and Sally Annis (Cyclocrossresults.com) both made impressive moves but could not drop Van Gilder on the fairly flat course. Elliot took second place in the sprint, while the ever-improving Annis finished third.
The race was the seventh round of the New England Verge Series and the first half of the North American Trophy Cup Finals (NACT). The Verge series leader heading into the race was Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing) but she would relinquish her leaders jersey at day’s end. She finished sixth nearly a minute off the fast pace set by the Van Gilder group.
Course conditions at race time were fast and dry but a strong wind out of the west made it a day for drafting when possible. Riders were treated to another interesting course designed by master builder Tom Stevens. It included many twists and turns, a trip around the Chocksett Middle School running track, a steep run-up with loose footing, and even a climb over an equestrian jump. But perhaps the course’s main feature was long sections in the wind on an open field that forced riders in stay in groups while trying to conserve precious energy.
Determined to defend her leader’s jersey, Andrea Smith got the hole shot but Mo Bruno-Roy quickly moved to the front and lead into the first run-up. Not known for power riding into the wind, Bruno-Roy pushed the pace beyond what most of the women could follow. A lead group that included Van Gilder, Elliot, Annis, Smith, and Arley Kemmerer (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) broke away from the field within the first lap. For a while it appeared that the C3 team would have the advantage of numbers but that advantage never really developed.
Natasha Elliot moved to the front and stayed there for the vast majority of the race. “I led because I felt better in some of the technical sections and wanted to lead there. I was getting a lot of gaps but making a lot of mistakes as well” explained Elliot. “I thought that maybe if I could get a big enough gap or if someone crashed I could get it done. I wanted to be with one rider because pulling around two isn’t the greatest. I gave it a shot.”
The pace set by Elliot eventually shed Bruno-Roy, Smith, and Kemmerer who waged a vicious battle for fourth place. Kemmerer and Bruno-Roy finally got away from Smith after she made a small mistake. Bruno-Roy seemed better on some of the technical sections but Kemmerer seemed powerful on the flats. Bruno-Roy gave a final sprint her best shot but Kemmerer’s power proved too much.
Laura Van Gilder entered today’s race ranked third in the world in UCI points. “Being ranked first for two weeks and then third has been a real treat” remarked a smiling Van Gilder. “It was not something I planned to achieve”. She has raced her bike virtually every weekend because she claims she is having so much fun.
When asked about today’s race tactics, Van Gilder said: “I felt confident but it was windy out there. I felt that it was a course where you could really cook yourself on the front. Unfortunately there were a lot of bobbles and crashes that I was caught in right from the start…I just wanted to make sure that I had a clean last lap and if I had a chance I would attack”.
Knowing of Van Gider’s sprinting prowess, both Elliot and Annis realized that they needed to try a move on the last lap. Annis was the first to go but Van Gilder responded in a heartbeat, relegating Elliot to third wheel. When the three came onto the final cinder track Van Gilder simply powered away from her rivals to take the win.
“I was hoping for a small gap but with Laura you need a quarter mile. I didn’t quite get that today so she passed me like I was standing still” lamented Annis. “Natasha rode really strong today. I was just trying to hang on. She really deserved winning that “Most Aggressive Rider” award.
The Elite Women will return to Sterling for round eight of the Verge Series on Sunday. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews.com for full results and race coverage.
|1||Laura Van Gilder (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes||0:40:31|
|2||Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy|
|3||Sally Annis (USA) crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles|
|4||Arley Kemmerer (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes||0:00:20|
|5||Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob's Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles|
|6||Andrea Smith (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:00:55|
|7||Ann D'Ambruoso (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:00:59|
|8||Linnea Koons (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal||0:01:05|
|9||Crystal Anthony (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:01:11|
|10||Carolyn Popovic (USA) PAValleys.com|
|11||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Silverbull Central Wheel|
|12||Christina Tamilio (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:01:53|
|13||Arielle Filiberti (USA) Specialized D4 Women p/b Bicycle Haus||0:02:36|
|14||Rebecca Wellons (USA) Pedro's||0:02:53|
|15||Marilyn Ruseckas (USA) Seven Cycles/NoTubes/FitWerx|
|16||Allison Snooks (USA) LadiesFirst Racing|
|17||Kristine Church (USA) Human Zoom-Pabst Blue Ribbon||0:04:03|
|18||Jena Greaser (USA) Colavita Racing||0:04:28|
|19||Jessica Hayes Conroy (USA) North American Velo||0:06:15|