Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) returned to the Jingle Cross World Cup ready to avenge the mechanical that knocked her off the podium in 2016. Nash came out swinging and dropped her rivals two laps into the race on the famed Mount Krumpit climb, building an insurmountable lead to win the first UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup of the season.
Though happy with her win and current fitness Nash was already thinking of mechanics she wanted to tweak.
"There is a little bit of work to do on remounts and dismounts," Nash said. "It is my first cross race of the season, but I will keep working on a few little details."
Jingle Cross, which started out as a November race with a Christmas-Grinch theme, is renown for the various routes it takes up Mount Krumpit, a long and steep ascent up a grassy hill, which frequently cracks the race open. The descent down Mount Krumpit is equally challenging as dry or muddy conditions require both skill and concentration to navigate the fast, steep dive to the base of the hill.
A rainstorm Saturday night briefly alleviated hot temperatures and the dry bumpy course but by the time the women's race started on Sunday temperatures had once again climbed into the tropical zone.
Sophie De Boer (ParkHotel Valkenburg - Destil Cycling Team) drew first blood taking the holeshot before ceding the lead to Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team.)
"I think I almost have the holeshot every race," De Boer said. "I like to start hard and fast the first few hundred meters. Then I can ride my own pace."
Lechner's lead group of 13 riders included Nash, De Boer, Katie Compton, Sanne Cant (Beobank-Corendon) and Kaitlin Keough (Cylance Pro Cycling.) Compton began to trade the lead with Nash but crashed after a fast descent down Krumpit. Compton continued to race but hit her shoulder and head hard enough to hinder her ability to stay at the front.
"I think in the second or third lap Katerina had gone to the front and I was behind Sophie on the descent, and I had just made a couple of passes and was kind of taking a little bit of risk on the descent - going fast and enjoying it, it was fun," Compton said. "I just kind of drifted a little wide and either caught a hay bale with my foot or put my wheel underneath the banner and hit a stake. I crashed and hit my shoulder, and I don't know if I hurt it or not but I wasn't able to pull back on the bars after that. It took me a lap to collect myself, at that point I was so far back I just tried to catch as many people as possible."
Nash began to build her lead with strong efforts over Krumpit and daring descents down the backside. After her initial attack, Nash maintained a steady lead of 15-20 seconds for the remainder of the race.
"I punched it over the top of Krumpit just thinking 'Oh I will get a little bit of gap on the downhill descending recklessly,' and I did," Nash said. "I didn't plan on getting away, I just wanted to make people work a little harder, and I looked back, and I had a little bit more of a gap than I anticipated, and I felt like I should keep on going."
The main chase group, which included Cant and De Boer, was finally split up with two laps to go by an attack from Kaitlin Keough. Keough wanted to avoid a sprint with De Boer and Cant and was able to get a comfortable margin in the final lap.
"The second to last lap I was able to get a gap and the last lap I just tried to dig," Keough said. "It was nice because I could still push through the sand but stay somewhat safe and pushed hard in, but I didn't have to stress. It's nice to finish alone."
Nash won by 12 seconds, followed by Keough in second. Cant sprinted in for third ahead of De Boer. The World Champion lamented the heat which drained many riders in their first race of the season.
"This morning it was not so hot, then at the start, the sun came out, and it became hotter and hotter," Cant said. "It's not the best for me, but I'm really happy with third. I think it was the best result I could get. At the climb, she (Nash) went really fast, and it was just too fast for all of us. She was quite good today. It is hot in America, in Belgium now it is maybe 15 degrees, and here it is 30 degrees."
It was a start of a busy week for Nash who will fly to Nevada for CrossVegas and will return to the Midwest later in the week to compete at the Trek CX Cup in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Clif Pro Team||0:47:27|
|2||Kaitlin Keough (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling||0:00:12|
|3||Sanne Cant (Bel) Beobank-Corendon||0:00:30|
|4||Sophie De Boer (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg - Destil Cycling Team||0:00:31|
|5||Maud Kaptheijns (Ned) Crelan - Charles||0:00:34|
|6||Caroline Mani (Fra)||0:00:36|
|7||Annika Langvad (Den) Specialized Racing||0:00:37|
|8||Ellen Noble (USA) Aspire Racing||0:00:57|
|9||Nikki Brammeier (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam||0:01:07|
|10||Eva Lechner (Ita) Clif Pro Team||0:01:20|
|11||Emma White (USA)||0:01:26|
|12||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:01:49|
|13||Loes Sels (Bel) Crelan - Charles||0:01:57|
|14||Elle Anderson (USA)||0:02:01|
|15||Rebecca Fahringer (USA)||0:02:16|
|16||Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Team||0:02:24|
|17||Christel Ferrier Bruneau (Can) SAS - Macogep||0:02:32|
|18||Crystal Anthony (USA)||0:02:36|
|19||Katherine Compton (USA)||0:02:52|
|20||Courtenay McFadden (USA)||0:02:56|
|21||Lucie Chainel (Fra) Team Chazal Canyon||0:03:11|
|22||Alicia Franck (Bel) Marlux - Napoleon Games||0:03:23|
|23||Maghalie Rochette (Can) Clif Pro Team|
|24||Fleur Nagengast (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions||0:03:37|
|25||Sofia Gomez Villafane (Arg)||0:03:42|
|26||Sunny Gilbert (USA)||0:03:57|
|27||Amanda Nauman (USA)||0:04:10|
|28||Cassandra Maximenko (USA)||0:04:25|
|29||Arley Kemmerer (USA)||0:04:31|
|30||Emily Kachorek (USA)||0:04:48|
|31||Ruby West (Can)||0:05:13|
|32||Jennifer Malik (USA)||0:05:15|
|33||Rebecca Gross (USA)||0:05:37|
|34||Kim Hurst (NZl)||0:05:53|
|35||Danielle Arman (USA)||0:06:04|
|36||Julie Wright (USA)||0:06:09|
|37||Bethany Crumpton (GBr)|
|38||Maria Larkin (Irl)|
|39||Siobhan Kelly (Can)|
|40||Evelyne Ward (Can)|