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Five women challenge for top spot
Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) wins the elite women's cross country race at Sea Otter
Georgia Gould (Luna) backed up her Saturday short track win with a cross country victory on Sunday at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, on Sunday. Gould finished ahead of Lene Byberg (Specialized) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna).
Within the first of four laps, a group of five women established a pace that no one else could follow at the front. Gould and Byberg were joined by Pendrel, and Subaru / Gary Fisher teammates Willow Koerber and Heather Irmiger.
Irmiger fell off the pace on the second lap, but she clawed her way back and then hung on for the rest of the race.
"On the second lap, I went to the front to stretch it out, then Lene did too," said Pendrel. "That made the selection. Most of the hard work happened on the grass. We were setting a hard tempo to shake any pretenders so that they wouldn't make it to the end with us."
"I lost the group on the short track part of the second lap and I spent the whole lap by myself," said Irmiger. "The race was tougher than it needed to be because I got myself gapped behind people who weren't fast enough for the group. I think my head was cocked and I was drooling on myself, but I calmed myself down and got it back together. It was cool to see that I had the fitness to destroy myself to get back up with the others."
Throughout the race, the five split the work on the relatively open, 3.2-mile course.
"The race was exciting. You wanted to make it hard, but not do too much work," said Gould. "There was so much sitting up (on the road sections) that I think people who might have gotten dropped earlier could stay on longer."
That meant that all four women went into the final lap together. The mix of two Luna women, two Gary Fisher / Subaru women and one Specialized woman meant that Byberg was at a disadvantage and would have to be aggressive to overcome the reality of not having a teammate.
The Norwegian did exactly what she needed to do tactically and while it didn't net her the win, she did earn second after a bold last-lap attack.
"I had to make the choice. Either I wait for the sprint, and I'm not a good sprinter, or I go for it. So I decided to attack," said Byberg. "I needed to go somewhere I saw weakness in the other riders. I took the chance. Georgia followed me and she was stronger in the end."
Byberg's attack almost worked as she caught Gould by surprise.
"Lene attacked before I expected it, and I was in fourth at the time," said Gould. "It was on the climb in the back in the woods. I had to close the gap around two people, and I caught up to her on the paved climb. She was still in front of me, but I knew I could close it to her then."
"She tried to keep the pace high on that last short climb, and I just counterattacked to get around her and be first on the last downhill," said Gould. "It was important to be first on that downhill to see the ruts. I knew I would have a good chance if I could get into that singletrack first. Then I just put my head down." Gould sprinted toward the line for the win.
Byberg was racing a 29er for the first time ever in a cross country race. "It rolled fast though it's been four years since I've raced a hardtail, so it took a bit of getting used to on the bumpier parts - to figure out where and how to sit on the bike."
Behind them, Pendrel took Koerber in a sprint finish for third place.
At times, Pendrel pushed the pace, especially on the grassy sections. At other times, she sat in. "You go through different sentiments on different laps about how you're feeling, but I felt pretty good to go... especially as it is April and before I get into my peak form."
Koerber said the race was a mental one for her. "My mantra... I told myself all day long that no matter how much I was hurting, I would not get dropped by that group. I'm glad it's over though - it was rough."
"The first lap was kind of like a short track, but you have to race like that," said Koerber. "It's good practice for the World Cups. I'm glad all these girls want to race like that."
The women's race was just over one and a quarter hours, relatively short, compared to other international-level cross country races and compared to Sea Otter's past races. Today, the women completed four laps over a 3.2-mile course, much of it was paved and a majority of the rest was grassy track. Most of the women said they enjoyed the race - the course was more fun than they had anticipated, but they noted the brevity of it.
"The course worked out pretty well," said Koerber. "Pre-riding, I thought it wouldn't be that much fun, but at high speed racing, it went by quickly and was fun." She appreciated the shorter length today and the places to sit up on the paved racetrack portions, but not everyone appreciated the road parts.
"The race should have been at least 30 minutes more," said Byberg. "We need to do some longer races before the World Cup. Although we did have a longer short track yesterday which makes it good training this weekend."
"Nobody was doing any tactics despite the road," said Irmiger before saying jokingly, "I don't think we're smart enough for that. That's why we all don't road race."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||1:16:48|
|2||Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized Factory Racing||0:00:06|
|3||Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team||0:00:45|
|4||Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||0:00:46|
|5||Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||0:01:09|
|6||Emily Batty (Can) Trek World Racing||0:02:06|
|7||Pua Sawicki (USA) Okole Stuff.Com||0:02:43|
|8||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||0:03:50|
|9||Chloe Forsman (USA) Tokyo Joe's||0:05:44|
|10||Kelli Emmett (USA) Giant Factory Offroad Team|
|11||Amy Dombroski (USA) Luna Pro Team|
|12||Alison Powers (USA)||0:07:02|
|13||Melanie Mcquaid (Can) Specialized||0:07:23|
|14||Amanda Carey (USA) Kenda/Felt||0:07:48|
|15||Judy Freeman (USA) Kenda/Felt||0:07:58|
|16||Alice Pennington (USA) S&M||0:08:17|
|17||Sue Butler (USA) River City Bicycles||0:09:05|
|18||Kathy Sherwin (USA) Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt||0:09:37|
|19||Nina Baum (USA) Cannondale||0:10:27|
|20||Aleksandra Moora (Pol) Bedford-Spin-Verge||0:10:33|
|21||Lizzy English (USA) Northstar/Giant/Tahoe Resor||0:11:04|
|22||Sonya Looney (USA) Topeak Ergon||0:11:38|
|23||Rebecca Rush (USA) Specialized Factory Racing||0:12:12|
|24||Krista Park (USA) Cannondale/Incycle.Com||0:12:33|
|25||Linnea Koons (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal||0:14:12|
|26||Joele Guynup (USA) Everti/IRC||0:14:56|
|27||Holly Liske (USA)||0:15:18|
|28||Wan Lin Chang (Tpe) Specialized Factory Racing||0:16:07|
|29||Christina Betz (USA) Form Cycles||0:16:44|
|-1lap||Lydia Tanner (USA) Tokyo Joe's|
|-1lap||Danae York (USA)|
|-1lap||Timari Pruis (USA) Kenda/Pivot|
|DNF||Mical Dyck (Can) Trek Canada|
|DNF||Kari Studley (USA) Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt|
|DNS||Anna Fortner (USA) Team Socal Cross|
|DNS||Lorien Lightfield (USA) Wild Rockies|
|DNS||Allison Mann (USA) Rock N'road Cyclery|
|DNS||Shannon Gibson (USA)|