Planet Bike's Kristin Wentworth took her first major victory in the North Carolina Grand Prix on Saturday, out-dueling breakaway companion Deidre Winfield (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) in the final 500 metres to win the first of back-to-back UCI C2 races held in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Wentworth's Planet Bike teammate Linda Sone soloed in for third place to round out the podium.
Under beautiful blue skies and balmy conditions in western North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, Wentworth and Winfield separated themselves from the field on the first lap and stayed together through the 5 laps of racing.
"On the first lap I went for it, got a gap, she [Winfield] bridged up and then we took turns [setting the pace]," said Wentworth. "I wasn't pulling too hard because I was hoping that perhaps one of my teammates might catch [us], but we both ended up working pretty hard."
Each of the leading duo tried to best utilize their strengths on the Jackson Park venue to achieve victory, as attacks by Winfield in the sections of twists and turns were neutralised each time by the power of Wentworth on the circuit's lengthy straightaways.
"She [Winfield] put in several hard attacks and I had to work to stay with her," said Wentworth.
On the penultimate trip up the "wall", a steep, grass ascent coming only 200 metres prior to the finish line, Wentworth was forced to briefly dab at the top while following Winfield's wheel. Wentworth had to put in a hard effort to regain contact with Winfield just as they approached the bell for the final lap and Wentworth knew she had to be the first over the "wall" next time to take the win.
"On that second to last time up, I noticed that she [Winfield] was taking it a little bit slower than I was and I had to put my foot down, so I knew I had to get there first," said Wentworth.
Winfield, a winner on both days of racing in the 2006 North Carolina Grand Prix, hoped to take advantage of the Wentworth miscue, but couldn't summon the strength to maintain the gap. "She [Wentworth] has so much power and closed it right down," said Winfield.
The pair remained together for 2/3 of the final lap before Wentworth tried to distance her breakaway companion. "I tried to attack as we entered the woods, but I took a bad line and she [Winfield] got around," said Wentworth.
As the pair emerged from the woods with 600 metres remaining Winfield was in front, but Wentworth attacked again with 500 metres to go on a straightaway and passed Winfield just prior to a tricky sequence of turns and off-camber leading into the "wall".
Wentworth crested the "wall" in front as she intended and crossed the finish line moments later with an eight-second advantage over Winfield.
Planet Bike put an emphatic stamp on the day's racing as Linda Sone and Kaitlin Antonneau followed in third and fourth position. Sone and Antonneau were part of a five-rider chase group behind Wentworth and Winfield, but each extracted themselves from the other chasers on the third lap and soloed for the remainder of the race.
"Kaitlin and I played team tactics and that was fun," said Sone. "It was like a crit."
The North Carolina Grand Prix continues on Sunday with another full day of cyclo-cross racing in Hendersonville's Jackson Park. Riders will likely face some different challenges as cooler temperatures and rain showers are forecast for the second day of racing.
|1||Kristin Wentworth (USA) Planet Bike||0:40:42|
|2||Deidre Winfield (USA) C3 Athletes Serving Athletes||0:00:08|
|3||Linda Sone (USA) Planet Bike||0:00:45|
|4||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Planet Bike||0:00:58|
|5||Kristin Gavin (USA) Human Zoom/Pabst Blue Ribbon||0:01:30|
|6||Elizabeth Frye (USA) Boone Velo||0:01:45|
|7||Nikki Thiemann (USA)||0:02:33|
|8||Kimberly Flynn (USA)||0:03:01|
|9||Kristine Church (USA)||0:03:51|
|10||Evie Boswell-Vilt (USA)||0:04:32|
|11||Golden Moore (USA)||0:04:49|
|12||Deb Sweeney Whitmore (USA) BMW-Bianchi||0:05:11|
|13||Lauren Costantini (USA)||0:05:34|
|14||Therese Meek (USA)||0:05:55|