Lea Davison (Specialized) won the US Cross Country National Championships for the second year in a row at Bear Creek Resort in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon. Although she was the defending champion, her win was a comeback to competition after having to sit out the first half of the 2014 season due to injury.
"This win means so much because I was in the pool getting my range of motion back while all the other girls were training and racing," said Davison, who had hip surgery earlier this year. "I started back to racing in Missoula one month ago, but I've been training like mad."
Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) started off the race like a rocket.
"At the beginning of the race, Chloe set a pace that made me wonder if she had some secret form," said Georgia Gould (Luna). "I thought 'five laps of this - whew!'. Then at the top of the climb, Lea and I went around her and gapped her off on the downhill."
From then on, it was a two-woman battle between Davison and Gould. The two Olympians took turns at the front. With Davison having been out of competition most of the year, neither woman knew quite how she measured up against the other.
"I was a wild card, even for myself," said Davison. "I didn't know how I would perform. I just started feeling good in the nick of time this week, so I had a little bit of confidence, but it was definitely a question mark."
"I didn't know if Lea was just riding around and I thought she was going kind of slow at one point. I also thought Evelyn was catching us on the climb, so I put in a attack on the rocky climb on the third lap, but Lea caught back up," said Gould. "I think we were pretty evenly matched."
Both riders were impressed by the vociferous crowd at the Lone Wolf Heckle Pit.
"I have never heard so much noise. I couldn't hear myself think," said Davison. "That was hands-down the best cheering section I ever heard, even from Europe. If I could hire the Lone Wolf Heckle Pit and bring them to Europe, that'd be great."
Gould said, "Those guys in the heckle pit were deafening. I would liken it to 'cross Worlds in Louisville and the Czech World Cup when you're riding around Katerina. It was amazing, but I messed up every time after not having unclip once in that section in training."
Going into the final lap of five total, Davison made a move on the first climb.
"I tried to get away from her at the beginning of the last lap, but she was sticking right to me," said Davison.
Gould said, "I was feeling pretty fatigued on the last lap. Lea went in front and I thought I'd just see what would happen. Then I realized I was running out of chances to get around. We were both off our bikes on the heckle pit the last time. She gapped me on that climb and there was nowhere else to make it up after that."
Davison said, "I was cramping so bad, I fumbled in the Lone Wolf cheer pit. My calf cramped as I was running up the hill. Then I gave it absolutely everything on the last switchback climb - that's where I got my gap."
"It's disappointing to finish second, but at least it was a good race," said Gould.
Davison said she was so excited to be back to racing after her rehabilitation.
Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) finished third in her best-ever placing at nationals.
"I had a slow start, like usual, but I managed to work my way back up. I was chasing Erin Huck and Mary McConneloug a little bit, and they're both stronger descenders than me, so I knew I wanted to follow their line for at least the first descent. On the second lap, I turned on the gas a little bit to see what I could do."
"I'm with some pretty good company on the podium, and I'm pumped to be up there with them."
Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) bobbled a bit in the beginning as she dealt with nerves but said she had more and more fun each lap. "I just couldn't quite catch Evelyn. It was a good race," said the fourth placed finisher.
Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes) rounded out the top five. "I hadn't raced since the Trans-Sylvania Epic. I'm just getting into a big block of racing with the upcoming World Cups. It was so fun to have such a technical track."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lea Davison (Specialized Factory)||1:43:45|
|2||Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)||0:00:15|
|4||Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes-Vcgraphix)||0:04:07|
|5||Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda/Stan's NoTubes)||0:06:42|
|6||Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus)||0:10:16|
|8||Erica Zaveta (Team Redline)||0:12:44|
|9||Crystal Anthony (Mountain Bike)||0:13:34|
|10||Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Pro Team)||0:14:05|
|11||Maureen Bruno Roy (Cycle Loft Velo)||0:15:32|
|13||Elisa Otter (Bicycle Express Racing)||0:17:07|
|15||Jamie Busch (Juliana Bicycles/San)|
|19||Sarah Kaufmann (Stans Notubes Womens)||0:22:00|
|20||Erin Alders (Liv/ Giant)||0:22:41|
|21||Carolyn Popovic (Rare Disease Cycling)||0:22:58|
|-2 laps||Abbey Alexiades|
|-2 laps||Kimberly Flynn|
|-2 laps||Bonita (Bonnie) Kleffman (Totalcyclist Racing)|
|DNF||Erica Tingey (Team Jamis)|
|DNF||Jessica Rawlins (Bicycles Plus Racing)|