Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) proved to be a class above the rest as she dominated the women's event at the fourth annual CrossVegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nash never looked back after showing her cards with a move on the third lap, leaving Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) to drag Nash's two teammates around the course as they attempted to limit the damage to the Czech rider.
"I can't complain, it was super hard today," said Nash. "A couple of races last weekend definitely took a little bit out of me, but I still had a great race and I'm just excited to finally win CrossVegas."
After working hard - and largely solo - for much of the race McConneloug couldn't resist a late-race surge from Amy Dombroski (Luna Pro Team). Dombroski made her final-lap move 1.5 kilometres from the finish and while McConneloug shadowed her closely, she had to settle for third place as they climbed up towards the finish line.
"I was definitely at a disadvantage with all the Luna women working against me but I was ready to sprint for second place at the finish," said McConneloug. "Amy went at the bottom of the hill and Georgia Gould was riding on the inside and I couldn't get by her. There wasn't much of a gap but that's racing. I'm still so happy to be on the podium.
"This was just for fun, though, a necessary evil here in Vegas," she added. "We'll see what happens next. I'll do a little more mountain biking for now. I love 'cross but I can't do it all so we'll see."
The victory was Nash's first at the Las Vegas event until now dominated by Katie Compton. The current US 'cross champion was forced to withdraw prior to the event as she continues to recover from a knee injury sustained at the mountain bike world championships in Monte Saint Anne, Canada two weeks ago.
"It's too bad Katie was sick, it happens to everybody," said Nash when asked if she missed having Compton to compete with. "I hope she has a speedy recovery."
Luna lights it up
Just one lap into the women's race the bid for victory had been narrowed to five riders. The small group, which consisted of Nash, Dombroski, McConneloug, Susan Butler (Hudz-Subaru) and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), quickly gained a lead that looked unlikely to be recovered.
McConneloug drove the pace hard over the ensuing lap, but while Dombroski rode second wheel Nash launched a crucial attack. The group shed Butler as it gathered pace in an attempt to shut down the move, but neither McConneloug, Dombroski or Gould could muster the required pace.
As Dombroski and Gould sat on McConneloug's wheel Nash was quickly shaping up as the likely victor. Despite having a comfortable margin Nash never relented, extending her lead by a reasonable margin as each of the final three laps passed.
"It was really windy and it was shaping up to be a little bit like a road race," said Nash. "Mary and I were both active but at the same time I thought someone just had to start attacking for real. I went and it stuck."
Dombroski's late surge bumped McConneloug down to third, despite her impressive ride throughout the race. Dombroski said the strong teamwork demonstrated by Luna will be a feature of this year's North American cyclo-cross season.
"We're all really strong and capable of the win," said Dombroski. "It's awesome we're all up there together - power in numbers.
"Katerina was probably the most active," she added. "I tried to chase but just didn't have it in my legs."
Butler never gave up on a potential podium place, receiving a notable boost in motivation over the final laps as she attempted to regain contact with the chase group ahead. "I really wanted to stay with that group, but I started having a really hard time trying to get oxygen because it's so dry here," said Butler. "Once I dropped off the group it was just so much more work, but I kept telling myself ‘come on, come on, you've got to stay with them'. It was just so hard.
"I was pushing, man," she added. "I knew the podium was within reach at this race but it just didn't happen."
Butler was sandwiched between two groups of three riders as Meredith Miller (California Giant/Specialized) led Kelli Emmett (Giant) and Linnea Koons (Embrocation Cycling Journal) behind. After a short break following her long road season, Miller wasn't completely unhappy with her performance which she expects to improve as she gains more cyclo-cross miles.
"It's alright after having a little break," said Miller. "I did better than I did two years ago, so it's alright."
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||0:46:10|
|2||Amy Dombroski (USA) Luna Pro Team||0:00:17|
|3||Mary McConneloug (USA) Kenda/Seven/Notubes|
|4||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||0:00:28|
|5||Susan Butler (USA) Hudz-Subaru||0:00:59|
|6||Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant/Specialized||0:01:21|
|7||Kelli Emmett (USA) Giant Bicycles|
|8||Alison Powers (USA) Team Vera Bradley Foundation|
|9||Kari Studley (USA) Redline|
|10||Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) California Giant/Specialized|
|11||Nicole Duke (USA) Hudz-Subaru|
|12||Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chaussures-Ogilvy|
|13||Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob'S Red Mill P/B Seven Cycles|
|14||Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (USA) Crossresults.Com/Pedalpowercoaching.com|
|15||Laura Van Gilder (USA) C3 Athletes Serving Athletes|
|16||Linnea Koons (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal|
|17||Heather Holmes (USA) Yeti/Sunflower Markets|
|18||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Central Wheel|
|19||Lisa Strong (USA) Hudz-Subaru|
|20||Kelly Benjamin (USA) Kccx p/b Challenge Tires|
|21||Linda Sone (USA) Planet Bike|
|22||Katherine Sherwin (USA) Hudz-Subaru|
|23||Lisa Hudson (USA) Feedback Sports||-1lap|
|24||Kate Scheider (USA)|
|25||Courtney Dimpel (USA) Bike Station Aptos|
|26||Shannon Gibson (USA) Velo Bella - Ellsworth|
|27||Rebecca Gross (USA) Velo Bella - Ellsworth|
|28||Emma Bast (USA) Team Plan C||-2laps|
|29||Kendall Ryan (USA) The Team - Socalcross|
|30||Kristal Boni (USA) Blue Sky Velo|
|31||Miranda Long (USA) Team Pg-13|
|32||Erika Powers (USA) Revolution/Peak Fasteners|
|33||Carrie Edwards (USA) Sheila Moon/Big Swingin' Cycles|
|34||Karen Oppenheimer (USA) Bend Memorial Clinic Race Team|
|35||Michele Bliss (USA) Justin'S-Titus|
|36||Christina Probert (USA)|
|37||Alexis Ryan (USA) The Team - Socalcross||-3laps|
|38||Dorothy Wong (USA) The Team - Socalcross|
|39||Vicki Thomas (Can) Disasterrecovery.com|
|40||Ivie Crawford (USA) The Team - Socalcross||-4laps|
|41||Pia Pensaari (Fin) Team Velo Cycling||-5laps|
|42||Annette Padilla (USA) Celo Pacific|
|DNS||Katherine Compton (USA) Planet Bike-Stevens Bikes|
|DNS||Krista Park (USA) Cannondale/Incycle|
|1||Mary McConneloug (USA) Kenda/Seven/Notubes|
|2||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team|
|3||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team|
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team|