Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) used her speed, experience, and pit crew to not only defeat the other racers but also Mother Nature at Ute Valley Park on Saturday. Thunderstorms hit during the second lap of the five-lap Pro XCT race, which rendered some racers' bicycles un-rideable due to the build-up of clay.
Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized), also experienced in these types of conditions, was able to keep her machine rolling to take second place. Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) had chosen wide tires that collected more mud. Her position changed a bit during the race, but she grabbed third place. Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) rode consistently to take the fourth spot on the podium, while Lauren Catlin (Rocky Mountain Chocolate) finished fifth.
US National Champion Georgia Gould (Luna), the pre-race favorite, was not able to start today due to a stomach illness. As a result, all eyes were on her equally capable teammate Katerina Nash. The race started on a dirt running track before heading uphill for the first of five laps. From the word go, Nash assumed command of the race, while the other top contenders attempted to hold her wheel. The course featured several climbs over ridges followed by highly technical descents on slick rock.
Halfway through lap two, a sizable group containing Nash, Mata, Huck, Irmiger, and Crank Brothers teammates Chloe Woodruff and Judy Freeman had split from the pack. Alison Mann (Bikes for Boobs) had crashed during the start and found herself moving up in the pack , but out of contention. Young Diedre York led the chasers and would eventually finish impressively in seventh place.
As the rains started to hit, Nash attacked the group and only Mata could answer the call. Unfortunately, when Mata was leading, she crashed on a slick wooden bridge on the backside of the course. She would spend the rest of the race in no-man's-land hanging onto her second place position.
Nash said after the race, "The conditions changed drastically because of the clay. There were sections where you could not corner. My Orbea and Shimano components were running well today." Some riders who had bikes with little mud clearance either had to stop and dig the mud off their frames, or remove their back wheels to remove the mud. Several women were seen carrying their bikes back to the start/finish as their back wheels would not turn.
Fortunately for Nash, she not only had her World Cup mechanic Chris Mathis in the pits, but also team director Waldek Stepnioski. Without Gould in the race, they could concentrate on keeping Nash's bike moving. With one lap to go, both men could be seen working furiously to remove the mud. They even poured a full bucket of water on the drivetrain as she headed back onto the course.
Irmiger said, "These conditions are unique to Colorado, where you go from fast super dry to like peanut butter and oil." It was quite evident that Irmiger came to compete today, but her tire choice did her in. "I decided to run these 2.2s up here, and I ended up with 2.2 inches of mud. I just couldn't move." At one point, Erin Huck moved into third position on the climb out of the venue, but Irmiger later got by her to reclaim third place.
Lea Davison (Specialized) and Georgia Gould had just been named to the USA Olympic team the day before the race. Davison chose to stay home and train rather than add more miles to her already busy travel schedule.
Many of the top women will now head to the Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec to compete in the next World Cup. From there, they will move to the final North American World Cup race in Windham, New York.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna||1:38:09|
|2||Monique Pua Mata (USA) Sho-Air||0:02:25|
|3||Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Trek||0:04:59|
|4||Erin Huck (USA)||0:05:28|
|5||Lauren Catlin (USA)||0:07:16|
|6||Rose Grant (USA)||0:07:30|
|7||Diedre York (USA)||0:08:27|
|8||Kelly Boniface (USA)||0:08:50|
|9||Jane Rynbrandt (USA)||0:12:21|
|10||Zephanie Blasi (USA)||0:12:56|
|11||Jaime Brede (USA)||0:14:53|
|12||Katie Sodergren (USA)||0:16:14|
|13||Rebecca Blatt (USA)||0:16:32|
|14||Rebecca Gross (USA)||0:16:47|
|15||Karen Jarchow (USA)||0:16:58|
|16||Jill Behlen (USA)||0:17:07|
|17||Nina Baum (USA)||0:18:55|
|18||Chloe Woodruff (USA)||0:21:52|
|19||Alicia Rose Pastore (USA)|
|20||Kaila Hart (USA)|
|21||Judy Freeman (USA)|
|22||Allison Mann (USA)|
|23||Linnea Dixson (USA)|
|DNF||Erica Tingey (USA)|
|DNF||Katherine O'Shea (Aus)|
|DNF||Sarah Kaufmann (USA)|
|DNF||Bryna Blanchard (USA)|
|DNF||Lisa Uranga (USA)|
|DNS||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna|