Deidre Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) soloed to her first win of the 'cross season on Sunday at the North Carolina Grand Prix, out-pacing Planet Bike teammates Kaitlin Antonneau and Kristin Wentworth by eight and 43 seconds respectively.
While the elite women faced the same course set-up as Saturday's race at Hendersonville's Jackson Park, dramatically different weather conditions provided new challenges for the field. Unlike the previous day's race run in sunshine and warm temperatures, riders faced an icy rain, temperatures in the low 40s Fahrenheit and a treacherously slick course.
Saturday's dry conditions favored those with power and tactical savvy, but the second day of racing at the North Carolina Grand Prix placed a premium on bike-handling skills and finesse as riders were no longer able to carve their way through the circuit's twists and turns full-bore.
The Planet Bike trio of Antonneau, Wentworth and Linda Sone took control of the race from the gun, but by the end of the first lap Deidre Winfield was alone in the lead as crashes felled each Planet Bike member.
"I didn't crash [on the first lap], but it seemed like everyone in front of me did," said Winfield. "I was able to catch them and didn't want to do the same so I tried to push hard on the power sections and ride a little more tentatively than I think I usually would in the technical parts. It worked out today."
Winfield, a close second place finisher to Wentworth the previous day in a race which went down to the wire, found the sloppier conditions on Sunday to her liking.
"I think I prefer it to be a little muddy," said Winfield. "It takes out the bigger engines, usually, and it has other skills that come to play. It always makes it a little more interesting when it's messy, it's not just power."
Winfield finished the opening lap with a four-second lead over Antonneau and built her advantage over the 17-year-old Planet Bike rider to 10 seconds by the conclusion of the second lap. For the remaining two laps Winfield rode flawlessly and maintained a 10-15 second margin over Antonneau.
"Kaitlin [Antonneau] rode a great race," said Winfield. "I think she was a lot faster in the technical sections than I was today and so I just tried to put it down in the power sections and stay upright. She went down on the first lap and I didn't want to do that."
Winfield's only miscue happened on a challenging section of off camber with 400 metres remaining in the race, but she quickly recovered and held off Antonneau by eight seconds.
Antonneau, who placed fourth on Saturday, finished second to equal her best UCI result of the season earned at the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross in mid-October. The Racine, Wisconsin teenager took the inclement conditions in stride.
"Yesterday was fun, but I like this better - I like the mud," said Antonneau. "I crashed once pretty bad on the first lap - that crash really hurt - but after that I was able to stay upright. Right when I was getting up she [Winfield] passed me and we stayed even the rest of the way."
Kristin Wentworth, the previous day's winner, completed her North Carolina Grand Prix weekend with another podium finish but found herself at a disadvantage in the mud.
"It's a lot of fun, but I'm just not very good at riding in conditions like this," said Wentworth. "I'm not the greatest mudder. I went down pretty hard on the third corner [on the opening lap] and just slid across the course. There were maybe only three girls behind me when I got going again and I had to pick my way through the field the rest of the race."
|1||Deidre Winfield (USA) C3 Athletes Serving Athletes||0:37:29|
|2||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Planet Bike||0:00:08|
|3||Kristin Wentworth (USA) Planet Bike||0:00:43|
|4||Linda Sone (USA) Planet Bike||0:01:26|
|5||Kimberly Flynn (USA) Vantaggio/ Specialized SCV||0:01:34|
|6||Kristin Gavin (USA)||0:01:48|
|7||Nikki Thiemann (USA)||0:01:57|
|8||Elizabeth Frye (USA) Boone Velo||0:02:48|
|9||Kristine Church (USA) Humanzoom/ Pabst Blue Ribbon||0:03:37|
|10||Deb Sweeney Whitmore (USA) BMW-Bianchi||0:03:43|
|11||Jo Markham (USA) Lees-McRae College||0:03:46|
|12||Golden Moore (USA) Fiets Maan Racing||0:04:02|
|13||Erica Zaveta (USA) Lees-McRae College||0:04:08|
|14||Teri Meek (USA) Bikeclicks/Team Louisville||0:04:33|
|15||Evie Boswell-Vilt (USA) Inland/Back to Dirt Racing||0:05:32|
|16||Jessica Singerman (USA) Wissahickon||0:05:34|