After riding nearly the entire race in a group of six riders, Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing) took the win at Sterling in a sprint finish against Mo Bruno-Roy (Bob's Red Mill-Seven). The finish was so close that the officials had to replay the tape to determine who had crossed the line first. Arley Kemmerer (C-3 Athletes Serving Athletes) rounded out the podium with her third place finish. Laura Van Gilder (C-3 Athletes Serving Athletes) earned enough points with her fifth place finish to nail down the NACT series championship.
Today's conditions were slightly warmer than Saturday's races and as a result, some frozen ground thawed and became quite slippery. Course changes overnight were dramatic as riders were faced with a myriad of zig zags that changed the complexion of the racing significantly. Gone was the steep run-up, but riders now had to navigate some uphill and downhill singletrack through the woods.
"Today the twists and turns sort of slowed things down and let the group keep coming back together," said Bruno-Roy. "It also made for a lot more chances to make mistakes".
Laura Van Gilder (C-3 Athletes Serving Athletes) got the hole shot and for a while it appeared that there would be a repeat of Saturday's race. However a group formed behind her that included Sally Annis (Crossresults.com), Natasha Elliot (Garneau Club Chaussures), Bruno-Roy, Smith, and Kemmerer. At various times Van Gilder, Annis, Elliot, and Smith could be seen leading the race.
With one and a half laps to go, disaster struck Van Gilder. "I cracked my front rim and was starting to have a flat tire. When I went into the pits there was a debacle (missed transfer) - then I went down on a pretty crucial point on the descent," said Van Gilder. "I had really burned a lot of matches to get back to the front group so then it was just riding it in and trying to hold onto fifth place."
With one lap to go, Bruno Roy took advantage of some chaos behind her and attacked the group. It initially appeared that she may have created a sufficient gap to get the win, but Smith made contact with a massive effort. Knowing that Smith was likely to have a stronger sprint, Bruno-Roy's hand was forced with a half lap to go.
"I took a chance on the last technical section. If I got a gap it would have been good because the finishing sprint is kind of long," said Bruno-Roy. Smith was able to keep it close but was brought right to the line by Bruno-Roy's surprising final kick. Smith seemed unsure whether to sprint or not.
"To be honest, I was a bit confused as to whether we had one to go or this was it. So when I saw the (lap) cards with double zeros on them, I decided I'd better get up and sprint," said Smith. "I've never been in a race where there were six people together until the very last lap. Sally was riding really strong and Natasha was riding strong - it was anybody's race really."
The Verge series finale will take place at the NBX G.P of Cross in Warwick, Rhode Island on December 4-5. Many of the top racers, including Van Gilder, Annis, and Bruno-Roy, will now head to the USGP in Portland, Oregon, which is taking place on the same weekend.
|1||Andrea Smith (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:40:36|
|2||Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob's Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles|
|3||Arley Kemmerer (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes||0:00:07|
|4||Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy||0:00:11|
|5||Laura Van Gilder (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes||0:00:21|
|6||Sally Annis (USA) crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles||0:00:40|
|7||Carolyn Popovic (USA) PAValleys.com||0:00:48|
|8||Linnea Koons (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal||0:00:54|
|9||Crystal Anthony (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:01:24|
|10||Ann D'Ambruoso (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:01:35|
|11||Catherine Sterling (USA) Bikeman.com||0:01:45|
|12||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Silverbull Central Wheel||0:02:13|
|13||Rebecca Wellons (USA) Pedro's||0:02:34|
|14||Allison Snooks (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:03:14|
|15||Kristine Church (USA) Human Zoom-Pabst Blue Ribbon||0:03:27|
|16||Christina Tamilio (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:03:40|
|17||Laura Ralston (GBr) MIT|
|18||Jena Greaser (USA) Colavita Racing||0:04:52|
|19||Arielle Filiberti (USA) Specialized D4 Women p/b Bicycle Haus||0:05:58|