Temperatures had just creeped above the freezing mark and 12 inches of new, powdery white snow glistened throughout Jackson Park as Canadian Ruby West (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) won her third consecutive event on the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross (ProCX) calendar on Saturday at the Hunter Subaru North Carolina Grand Prix (NCGP).
All racers faced some degree of tricky travel due to the snowfall that belted the Appalachian Mountains to reach Hendersonville, located just south of Asheville, and then faced muddy and slippery conditions on the course.
West would move to the front first and be the first in a long single-file procession to navigate the off camber sections. There would be lots of dismounting and remounting of bikes to complete a circuit.
“I think the first half of the course I liked a little bit better. It was more about staying smooth and following your own lines,” the 18-year-old said about the race. “The second half was so much running and so miserable. I like running, and I think it is one of my strengths, but it was just so slippery and so muddy that there was almost no hope in moving there. I was making mistakes there every lap. So, I was just trying to minimize mistakes and get up fast when I fell.”
Among the contenders in the top six in early laps were North Carolina residents Lily Williams (Pony Shop CX Team) of Asheville, Hannah Arensman of Rutherford College and Emily Shields (Kens Bike Shop).
“It stayed pretty close together in the beginning,” said Williams, who would score her third podium of the ProCX season. She said the separation came on the back side of the course. “It had the off camber sections, the 'W', where it split with a high line and a low line, on the back side. A lot of people in front of me took the low line, which was slick. So I was able to make up some ground on the high line on the first lap. And then coming to the start/finish the first time, after the first lap, it kind of filtered out and that is where it stayed.”
She was correct about the final placement. Williams would finish second, but it would be Shields working her way from sixth to a third place finish, her first podium at a ProCX event this year.
“I really like the mud, so I really liked today. It was ideal,” said Shields. “It was kind of hard to pass people, because there was just the one rut. But I just kept slowly moving up and ended up in third.”
Arensman would slip back to fifth. Fourth place was sealed by Cassie Maximenko (Van Dessle/Atom Composite Wheels), who is seventh overall in ProCX standings for women.
“I was excited to race in the snow,” West added. “I actually hadn’t raced in the snow since the World Championships last year in Luxembourg. Canada has been unseasonably warm so far this year, so most of the races I have done have been warm or no precip.”
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ruby West (Can)||0:44:14|
|2||Lily Williams (USA)||0:00:35|
|3||Emily Shields (USA)||0:01:37|
|4||Cassandra Maximenko (USA)||0:01:59|
|5||Hannah Arensman (USA)||0:02:01|
|6||Julie Wright (USA)||0:02:31|
|7||Jennifer Malik (USA)||0:02:35|
|8||Emma Swartz (USA)||0:02:53|
|9||Erin Faccone (USA)||0:03:22|
|10||Allison Arensman (USA)||0:03:48|
|11||Gabriella Sterne (USA)||0:04:43|
|12||Leslie Lupien (USA)||0:05:55|
|13||Philicia Marion (USA)||0:07:16|
|14||Erica Allar (USA)|
|15||Riley Gallagher (USA)|
|16||Hannah Bauer (USA)|
|17||Megan Heath (USA)|
|DNF||Katie Clouse (USA)|