Ashley James (Kenda) soloed into her first UCI-sanctioned cyclo-cross victory at the C2 level North Carolina Grand Prix Day 1. The Under 23 US National Champion finished nearly one minute ahead of second place Nicole Theimann (CF Elite). Deidre Winfield (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) was riding in contention for the race win however she rolled a front tire with half lap to go and was forced to settle for third.
"I was looking forward to racing it out with her on the last lap but unfortunately she had a mechanical and I guess that was the end of her race," James said of Winfield. "It feels good to win but it would have been nice to race it out and I'm bummed she rolled her tire."
The double-header UCI race weekend marks rounds six and seven of the North Carolina Cyclo-cross Series. The Elite women were treated to yet another gorgeous autumn day, with late-morning temperatures that reached as high as 70 Fahrenheit. Dry conditions allowed for a fast-paced 40-minute race on a course that included several long sweeping downhill turns mixed with two run-ups, a set of barriers and a technical wooded section.
"The course was so much fun with a lot of downhills and wide corners," James said. "You gained so much elevation with short steep hills but most of the other parts were downhill. I enjoyed the course and it was fun riding out there."
Winfield led the race from the pavement on the first of five laps and through the grassy descent. The wide course allowed riders to take the corners at speeds that would normally be considered too risky. James hung onto Winfield's wheel and the pair gained a 10-second lead by the end of the first lap.
"She's a great racer and I respect her a lot," James said. "My plan was to try and stay with her and see how the race unfolded. I was a little bit worried that the girl in third [Nicole Theimann] was catching up to us and I really didn't want the race to come down to a sprint."
A series of chasers separated by several seconds followed behind lead by Theimann and her teammate Kristin Gavin, Christina Tamilio (LadiesFirst Racing), Linda Sone (Planet Bike), Carolyn Popovic (PAValleys.com) and Kim Flynn (Grace Law-Trek p/b Vantaggio). A second chase group, not too far behind, included Jennifer Maxwell (Van Dessel Factory Team), Julie Kuliecza (Alan North American Cycling), Allison Snooks (LadiesFirst Racing) and Meghan Korol (Bob's Red Mill).
James put her 'cross veteran companion to the test by launching several attacks in the opening laps however, none were successful in gaining the valuable seconds she needed to secure a solo lead. Winfield countered those attacks on the last two laps and gained only a few bike lengths before James reeled her back in.
The pair rode through the bell lap and the crowds waited in anticipation for a heated two-up sprint for the victory however, James emerged from the back half of the course alone with Winfield nowhere in sight.
"My front tire came off and I had to let a bunch of air out to get it back on," Winfield said. "I rode it for a bit after than and then it went completely flat. I tried to keep it up right just to get to the pits. It's a bummer but these things happen. I'll just ride as hard as I can tomorrow and we'll see."
James pushed through the last half lap with a considerable time margin to her nearest competitor Theimann, who had caught and passed Winfield as she struggled to put her tire back on the wheel. Winfield took a quick bike change and managed to hold on for third place. Theimann's teammate Gavin won a chase group sprint for fourth place ahead of Popovic in fifth and Sone in sixth.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ashley James (USA) Team Kenda||0:39:52|
|2||Nikki Thiemann (USA) Team CF||0:00:42|
|3||Deidre Winfield (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes||0:00:56|
|4||Kristin Gavin (USA) Team CF||0:01:05|
|5||Carolyn Popovic (USA) PAValleys.com||0:01:06|
|6||Linda Sone (USA) Planet Bike||0:01:07|
|7||Kimberly Flynn (USA) Grace Law-Trek p/b Vantaggio||0:01:56|
|8||Jennifer Maxwell (USA) Van Dessel Factory Team p/b Sterke Meiden||0:02:31|
|9||Julie Kuliecza (USA) ALAN North America Cycling Team||0:02:41|
|10||Erin Silliman (USA) Fruit66-Artemis||0:02:53|
|11||Meghan Korol (USA)||0:03:19|
|12||Allison Snooks (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:03:24|
|13||Cara Applegate (USA) Performance Bicycle Racing||0:03:26|
|14||Evie Boswell-Vilt (USA) Performance Bicycle Racing||0:03:46|
|15||Nina Elliott (USA)||0:03:48|
|16||Emily Shields (USA) Carolina Masters Cycling||0:04:11|
|17||Elicia Hildebrand (USA)||0:04:42|
|18||Deb Sweeney Whitmore (USA)||0:05:17|
|19||Kristin Jo Markham (USA) Team Kenda||0:06:43|
|20||Katherine Shields (USA) Carolina Masters Cycling||0:04:42|
|21||Debbie Gillespie (USA)||0:05:17|
|22||Rip Nicholson (USA)|