One day after winning the first UCI 'cross race of her career, Amanda Carey (Volkswagen Boise Cycling) added another to her palmares as she swept the elite women's races at the North Carolina Grand Prix weekend. Katie Arnold (Bob's Red Mill) finished second to Carey for the second straight day while Emily Shields (Mock Orange Bikes), too, duplicated her previous day's result with a third place finish.
While the podium was a carbon copy of Saturday's, the parcours at Hendersonville's Jackson Park was transformed by overnight showers and rain which at times fell heavily during the elite women's five-lap race. What was a fast and furious grass criterium on Saturday became a slick, muddy circuit which put a premium on finesse and bike handling skills, particularly on an increasingly tricky off-camber section 300 metres from the finish line.
When the gun went off Katie Arnold launched like a rocket down the start straight to grab the holeshot and immediately put some distance between herself and her rivals. Amanda Carey, however, who won after leading start to finish on Saturday, found herself playing catch-up.
"I had a really bad start," Carey told Cyclingnews. "I missed my pedal multiple times which is never a good thing. I really had to work hard on the first lap to move my way up but I also wanted to ride a more tactical race today. Yesterday it was 'Boom!' - got the holeshot, went off the front and rode by myself the whole time. That's really hard to do."
Nonetheless Carey rode through the field and jumped across to Arnold and by the end of the opening lap the duo had a 14-second advantage over the four-rider chase group comprised of Emily Shields, Allison Arensman (Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABRC), Rebecca Blatt (Van Dessel) and Corey Coogan-Cisek (Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue Competition Cycles).
While Carey and Arnold battled at the head of the race the weather turned for the worse on the fourth of five laps - what was just a misting drizzle transformed into a strong rain shower which played a pivotal role in the race outcome.
"Katie was riding so well today, really strong," said Carey. "I actually thought she was stronger than me today. Once it started raining I lost my rear wheel on one side-hill pretty immediately. I had my pit bike ready to go with some pretty aggressive mud tires and I pitted immediately. She didn't so I think she was still riding some pretty intermediate tires. That's when I started to take my time on the flats but rail corners because I knew I had a more aggressive tire plus I have disc brakes."
"Amanda and I were off the front right off the bat just duking it out," said Arnold. "She made a pit exchange when I probably should of after it started pouring. I thought 'I feel pretty good on the Grifos' but all it took was one lap for it go get really sloppy and sure enough I went down."
Carey was leading Arnold onto the ever-slicker off-camber section near the end of the penultimate lap when Arnold crashed and put her rear derailleur into the spokes.
Carey heard Arnold go down and with only one lap to go she found herself alone in the lead. "I got a little gap and then just tried to ride it smooth and upright. Not strong...upright," Carey said with a laugh.
Arnold was able to ride her bike to the pit where she swapped it out for a new one but Carey's lead proved insurmountable. Carey once again soloed to victory with Arnold repeating as runner-up.
"I'm still happy with my performance - I felt really good today. My legs felt strong," said Arnold.
Meanwhile the battle for third was a hard-fought contest between 19-year-old Emily Shields and 18-year-old Allison Arensman. On the third lap the four-rider chase group splintered with Shields alone in third being chased by Arensman. At the end of the lap Shields held a seven-second advantage over Arensman and over the final two laps the gap remained tight between the duo.
"I was worried because Allison was behind me and we race against each other every week - I couldn't mess up or dab once because she'd catch me," Shields told Cyclingnews. Nevertheless Shields found the sloppy conditions to her liking as she held off Arensman to claim a second podium finish in as many days at Jackson Park.
|1||Amanda Carey (USA) Volkswagen Boise Cycling|
|2||Katie Arnold (USA) Bob's Red Mill|
|3||Emily Shields (USA) Mock Orange Bikes|
|4||Allison Arensman (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABRC|
|5||Katherine Shields (USA) Mock Orange Bikes|
|6||Corey Coogan-Cisek (USA) Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue Competition Cycles|
|7||Ellen Noble (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective|
|8||Erin Silliman (USA) Corsa Concepts Cyclocross Team|
|9||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Van Dessel|
|10||Julie Hunter (USA) BikeBeat/VaAssetGroup|
|11||Erica Zaveta (USA) Lees McRae College|
|12||Cinthia Lehner (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABR|
|13||Deb Sweeney Whitmore (USA) PainPathways Cycling Team|
|14||Elizabeth Lee (USA) Louis Garneau Factory Team p/b Fuji|
|15||Carol Jeane Sansome (USA) Silver Cycling|