Ashley James (Team Kenda) claimed her second consecutive victory at the North Carolina Grand Prix Day 2 held at Jackson Park in Hendersonville on Sunday. Unlike the previous day which saw the Under 23 US National Champion win solo, today she captured a convincing sprint victory head of Deidre Winfield (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) in second and Carolyn Popovic (PAValleys.com) in third.
"It was a little more tactical today," James said. "In the last corner Carolyn slid out and I was a little over geared so I did what I could in the sprint. I just managed to get Dee Dee at the line. It was an exciting finish and I was happy to be able to play it out to the end today."
Three race leaders barreled into the final steep ride-up fighting for prime position in a highly anticipated sprint finish. Popovic, who managed to work her way into second position behind Winfield, crashed through the last long sweeping corner before hitting the paved finishing stretch. Winfield was forced to touch one foot down but quickly restarted her sprint in first position. James skirted around the crash and gained the momentum needed to surpass Winfield at the line for her second victory of the weekend.
"My big strategy for the end was to get to the top of the hill first or second and I got there second," Popovic said. "Dee Dee's wheel slid out a little and my front wheel hit hers and I went down. Ashley avoided me and came around. Dee Dee had to put a foot on the ground. From what I saw it was a close finish but Ashley had the momentum."
The warm autumn weather continued into the second round of the UCI C2 North Carolina Grand Prix, round seven of the North Carolina Cyclo-cross series. Several course changes included re-routing corners and off camber sections, a shorter and more technical descent coming out of the woods and a longer, sweeping corner before the finishing straightaway.
"The course was mostly similar to yesterday which was good because it was a fun course," James said. "They reversed a couple of chicanes and corners. Out of the woods the corners were off camber and slick and the finish was a little bit longer and more space to the finish line."
Winfield took the hole-shot onto the grass and led a quality field of Elite women 'crossers through the fast-paced course. Those riders glued to her wheel included James and Popovic along with Nicole Thiemann and Kristin Gavin (Team CF Elite), Christina Tamilio (LadiesFirst Racing) and Linda Sone (Planet Bike).
"I had a smooth race except for the last turn," Popovic said. "I had a clear head yesterday and felt like the first half the race today was good. I wanted to be mentally in it and I was. I didn't pull at all because I just wanted to conserve my energy and I was psyched to be up in the top three."
Winfield pushed the pace that resulted in a leading group of four with James, Popovic and Theimann in tow. Winfield headed into the stair run-up with speed but dismounted slightly late causing her front wheel to smack into the first of two stairs. James recognized the bobble and attacked gaining a small lead. Winfield was forced to close the gap with Popovic on her wheel. However, the breakaway was reduced to three when Theimann fell of pace.
Winfield led for nearly the entire last lap hoping for a better finish than the previous day where she rolled a tire with a half lap to go. She was the first to the top of the steep ride-up and into the final corner however her back wheel slid out forcing her to slow down. Popovic's front wheel touched Winfield's rear wheel causing her to crash in front of James who was riding in third position. James reacted quickly and rode around the crash carrying her momentum into a winning sprint.
|1||Ashley James (USA) Team Kenda||0:40:16|
|2||Deidre Winfield (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes||0:00:01|
|3||Carolyn Popovic (USA) PAValleys.com||0:00:07|
|4||Nikki Thiemann (USA) Team CF||0:00:33|
|5||Linda Sone (USA) Planet Bike||0:01:28|
|6||Kimberly Flynn (USA) Grace Law-Trek p/b Vantaggio||0:01:39|
|7||Jennifer Maxwell (USA) Van Dessel Factory Team p/b Sterke Meiden||0:02:00|
|8||Emily Shields (USA) Carolina Masters Cycling||0:02:07|
|9||Meghan Korol (USA) Bob's Red Mill||0:02:10|
|10||Erin Silliman (USA) ALAN North America Cycling Team||0:02:12|
|11||Cara Applegate (USA) Performance Bicycle Racing||0:02:13|
|12||Julie Kuliecza (USA) ALAN North America Cycling Team||0:02:27|
|13||Nina Elliott (USA) Greenville Women's Cycling||0:02:40|
|14||Evie Boswell-Vilt (USA) Performance Bicycle Racing||0:02:51|
|15||Allison Snooks (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:02:53|
|16||Erica Zaveta (USA) Specialized D4W||0:03:04|
|17||Katherine Shields (USA) Carolina Masters Cycling||0:03:45|
|18||Elicia Hildebrand (USA) Gear Grinder||0:03:50|
|19||Julia Tellman (USA) Sycamore Cycles||0:04:06|
|20||Rip Nicholson (USA) Pirates Racing||0:04:34|
|21||Kristin Gavin (USA) Team CF||0:04:46|
|22||Deb Sweeney Whitmore (USA) Performance Bicycle Racing||0:05:22|
|23||Debbie Gillespie (USA) Team Kenda||0:07:50|