Defending US under-23 champion Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) earned another year in the stars-and-stripes jersey Sunday at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Hartford, Connecticut.
Living up to pre-race expectations, the event came down to a battle between Noble and Emma White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), with the duo tightly locked through the first lap-and-a-half before Noble took the lead for good on the frozen, snow-covered course along the Connecticut river.
Noble crossed the finish line with a 30-second advantage over runner-up White, with Hannah Finchamp (Clif Pro Team) in third at 3:48.
White and Noble established themselves as the riders to beat within the first minute of racing. White narrowly took the hole shot and maintained a small advantage through the first lap as the pair quickly put the rest of the field into the rearview mirror.
"I had a rough plan," Noble said of her strategy. "But it's not like a road race where you're like, 'I'm going to attack with 6k to go,' or something like that.
"I knew that there was a lot of time to make mistakes, so I really wanted to ride my own pace and just focus on not making mistakes and being super, super consistent. I had a few little dabs but overall I rode a very clean race. And that's exactly what I aimed for. That was really my strategy. If I could have led from the beginning, if I could have gotten the hole shot and led into the first run-up, I would have been happy to, but Emma starts really, really well. So the fact that she took the hole shot was something that I sort of anticipated.
"I had hoped to take the lead by the chicane off-camber at the end of the long run, but I didn't so I just tried to stay calm and knew that if I was riding as well as I thought I was that I'd be able to close the gap."
Noble shadowed White closely before overtaking her and then beginning to pull away in the second lap. From there, Noble began to grow her advantage, navigating the tricky route with aplomb and avoiding any serious errors.
White stayed within striking distance, with Noble's gap stabilizing at around a half minute, but White was unable to claw back much time in the final few minutes of the race.
Behind the pair out front, Finchamp and Arensman had separated themselves from the rest of the riders contesting third place. Nearly four minutes after Noble nabbed the victory, Finchamp topped Arensman in the battle for the podium's final spot.
Noble's second straight Nationals victory will be her last at the under-23 level, as she will move up to the elites next year. Currently sitting 12th in the UCI's world ranking for women with multiple World Cup top 10s under her belt already, Noble sounded eager after Sunday's race to set her sights on elite titles moving forward.
"I think I am [ready]. I'm really excited. It's been nice this last year at U23," she said. "Getting to prep to peak for this specific race I think gave me a lot of good practice."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing)||0:35:13|
|2||Emma White (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld)||0:00:30|
|3||Hannah Finchamp (UCI MTB: Clif Pro Team)||0:03:48|
|4||Hannah Arensman (J.A. King p/b BR'C)||0:03:57|
|5||Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective)||0:04:21|
|6||Clara Honsinger (Team S&M)||0:04:23|
|7||Ashley Zoerner (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Vista Subaru)||0:04:30|
|8||Katherine Santos (Be Real Sports)||0:04:57|
|9||Shannon Mallory (Northwest Womens Cyclocross Pro)||0:05:30|
|10||Anya Malarski (Jet Cycling)||0:05:49|
|11||Heidi Franz (Keller-Rohrback Cycling)||0:06:33|
|13||Sophie Russenberger (Bend Endurance Academy)||0:07:24|
|14||Kennedy Adams (Women's CX Project)||0:07:53|
|15||Kathleen O'neil (Hicks Orthodontics Women's Raci)||0:08:01|
|16||Tiziana Dehorney (Portland Titanium)||0:08:16|
|17||Fiona Dougherty (Bicycle World)||0:08:33|
|18||Ellen Campbell (Durango Devo)||0:08:39|
|19||Ellie Mitchell (Northwest Womens Cyclocross Pro)||0:08:44|
|20||Abigail Youngwerth (Tenspeed Hero)||0:08:55|
|21||Kelsay Lundberg (Fort Lewis College)|
|22||Svetlana Mack (Rock Creek Velo)||0:09:22|
|23||Payten Maness (Renewed Cyclocross)||0:09:33|
|24||Alijah Beatty (NorthStar Development)||0:10:56|
|25||Hayden Gizinski (Northwest Womens Cyclocross Pro)||1 Lap|
|26||Anna Schehrer (Fort Lewis College)|
|27||Ella Neurohr (Chicago Cuttin Crew)|
|29||Lillith Ahrens (J.A. King p/b BR'C)|
|30||Riley Gallagher (J.A. King p/b BR'C)|
|31||Emily White (Stoudts Brewing Co/JB Mountain)|
|32||Rebecca Bramley (Fort Lewis College)||2 Laps|
|33||Kira Segenchuk (New England Devo)|
|34||Anna Savage (Northampton Cycling Club)|
|35||Hannah Bauer (J.A. King p/b BR'C)|
|36||Rachel Smith (Tricity Road Club)||3 Laps|
|DNF||Alex Christofalos (CTH Peformance Project)|