Battling the oppressive heat as much as the other women, Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) rode away from her rivals to win the Mellow Johnny's Classic on Lance Armstrong's ranch. Kelli Emmett (Team Giant), who duked it out with Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team), won the battle for second. Nash was third followed by Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) in fourth, and Alison Mann (Rock n' Roll) in fifth.
With temperatures in the 90s (degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity to match, today's racing was more about racing "smart" than attacking the other racers. "I knew it was going to be super hot, so I didn't want to go super hard and be in the red zone," explained Gould. "So, I started out a bit conservatively."
At the end of one lap, Nash and Gould worked effectively together in a breakaway. Behind them, Koerber seemed to be backing it down just a bit, while Emmett was surging. By the end of the second lap, Gould had flown the coop, and Emmett bridged up to Nash.
"I had a bunch of (mechanical) problems out there today, but that's racing," said Nash.
"It was a matter of pacing myself," said runner-up Emmett. "I knew it was hot so I stayed steady the whole time. It's too hot to be drilling it."
"Katerina was descending amazingly, but I felt better on the climbs. I went as hard as I could on the climbs and got away."
Gould has regained her form from 2008, when she was dominating races in the United States. When asked what is different from last season, she said, "I took a little more time off between 'cross season and mountain bike season. It allowed me to get more rest."
"I am really psyched that the North American women are riding so well," said Gould, complimenting her competition. "It's great to come out to a race like this and have top World Cup riders dicing it up in Texas." Last weekend, Gould finished second at the World Cup in Offenburg, and Koerber previously lead the World Cup series.
While the weather was not optimal, many racers gave the course on Armstrong's ranch a thumbs up. The six-mile loop was a combination of rolling Texas hills, grassy fields, and semi-shaded groves of trees. On the back of the course, there were some moderately technical rock and drop-off sections. The final climb back to the start/finish area was not that high but was made plenty difficult due to the heat.
"I hope we can race on more courses like that," said Nash. "It's really good mountain biking. Somebody put a lot of work into that course. I think anytime someone opens up their private property for racing instead of putting up no-trespassing signs, it's really great."
With her victory today, Gould was awarded the US Pro XCT leader's jersey. The series will head next to the Subaru Cup on June 26 in Wisconsin. It will be the first time the series, as currently named and run, has made a stop in that state.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||1:42:55|
|2||Kelli Emmett (USA) Giant Factory Team||0:02:44|
|3||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||0:03:17|
|4||Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||0:05:24|
|5||Allison Mann (USA) Rock N' Road||0:07:50|
|6||Amy Dombroski (USA) Luna Pro Team||0:09:43|
|7||Aleksandra Mooradian (Pol) K. Bedford/||0:11:38|
|8||Kimberly Flynn (USA) Grace Law-||0:13:23|
|9||Sue Butler (USA) River City Bicycles||0:14:31|
|10||Christina Smith (USA) Orbea/Colonels||0:14:52|
|11||Bryna Blanchard (USA) Windham||0:19:29|
|12||Shae Rainer (USA) Team Bicycle Sport Shop||0:21:28|
|13||Alice Pennington (USA) Team S&M||0:22:03|
|14||Lisa Hudson (USA) Feedback||0:23:52|
|15||Meghan Korol (USA) Mafia Racing||0:30:50|
|16||Danae York (USA) Mafia Racing||0:34:06|
|17||Diedre York (USA) Velobum.com||lapped|
|DNF||Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru/Gary Fisher|
|DNF||Suzanne Karklins (USA) Orbea|