Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chausseurs) won her second consecutive 'cross race to undeniably dominate the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross weekend held in Etobicoke, Canada.
Talented junior rider Kaitlin Antonneau (Planet Bike) stormed into second place following an all-out chase for the win while Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club) rounded out the podium in third.
"I'm happy to keep getting these UCI wins and keep getting the points," said Elliott. "Hopefully I'll keep on racing well here and into Europe and have a good season there as well."
This win marks Elliott's fourth North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series victory; however, she's not confirmed as competing in the double header in Boulder, Colorado, in two weeks' time. Her commanding lead in the overall rankings means that she could likely hold onto the leader's jersey until the final round in South Hampton in November.
"My goals are a lot more loose fitting now," Elliott explained. "At first I wanted to just do the Verge series but now maybe I will do a little [things] a bit differently. I'll go for some more of the NACT races and then go to Europe for two weeks in December.
"If I go to Worlds then I'll come back first and train somewhere south in the USA. I'd like to win the NACT. I think the extra prize money would help my training preparations before for going over to Europe," she said.
The Toronto Midweek Cycling Club hosted the 16th annual GNC Toronto International Cyclocross at the Centennial Park ski area. The round two course was held on the opposite side of the ski hill to the previous day. The circuit wound it's way through a wooded section, used parts of the climb and included a dried-up mud pit and a mini sand pit.
The gorgeous afternoon brought sun that made the course hard-packed and dry, a sharp contrast to the previous year's mud bath.
"I preferred last year's course with the mud because I think it suited me better," said Elliott. "This one was dry and fast. I love them both. As long as there is no ice, I don't like ice and I think that's what worlds will be like."
Harlton blasted out of the starting gates in a similar fashion to the previous day. She lead through the first half of the course before Elliott took over the front. A large group followed the two leaders that included junior star Antonneau, along with Linda Sone (Planet Bike), Gesa Bruechmann (Stevens), Linnea Koons (October Factory Racing) and Sara Bresnick (Pedalpowercoaching).
"I really like racing with the elite field because it's fast and I think it makes me better," said Antonneau. "I'm racing with people that are a lot faster than me and I like it."
On lap four, the young Antoneau caught and passed Harlton on the course's steep hill. Harlton put forth a battle to regain contact with the running for second place but she could not bridge the gap. Behind the pair, Sone, who placed second the previous day, fought hard to catch up to the leaders.
"I was catching her somewhat towards the end," Antonneau added. "I saw her and on the last two laps I was trying to make sure that I could still see her. When I saw two to go that's when I really tried to open the gap on Pepper. As I went along I could tell it was getting bigger so I kept pushing harder."
Elliott muscled her way toward her second victory however, her advantage was not as large as the previous day. She had to keep putting pressure on the pedals to prevent Antonneau from gaining the crucial seconds she was fighting for.
"I think the time difference today had to do with the course," said Elliott. "There isn't enough place to rely on power with all of the turns and stops. Its harder to gain a little more time. I was trying to go hard because I knew they were chasing hard behind me. I didn't want to let up at all. It was a good job by both of them."
|1||Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chausseurs|
|2||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Planet Bike|
|3||Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club|