After breaking her collarbone earlier this season, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) has proved she is back in top form in recent weeks with several wins, most recently the elite women's cross country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Windham, New York this past weekend.
"It feels good to be back on the top at a World Cup. I was trying not to get distracted by that while out there racing," said Pendrel. "I felt good, but you know how when you have an off season, you wonder if it's age starting to kick in or if you've lost it. To have some great races, especially at home in North America is nice."
Pendrel's last World Cup victory came in 2012, also in Windham, although it wasn't under the best of circumstances. She took the win from her teammate Georgia Gould, who was in the lead, but flatted in the final meters.
2013 wasn't a great season for Pendrel, and it wasn't helped by a broken collarbone.
But after healing up from this year's broken collarbone, things have been going better and better for Pendrel. One week before Windham, she was second at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup, and before that, she won both the Commonwealth Games cross country and the Canadian cross country national championships.
"I think you get stronger when you have more time to put in the miles and get in the racing experience," said Pendrel. "You can't underestimate the confidence you get from a good race, too."
Pendrel was obviously confident on Sunday in Windham. She went out hard from the gun - here strategy was to ride aggressively and wear out her rivals. It worked.
"I could tell [World Cup overall leader] Jolanda [Neff] was breathing hard on the first climb. I think it hurt her on the descent because I was like 'oh I can pass you now'. I was able to open a gap." Neff is recognized as a superb descender.
Once Pendrel was off the front, she felt less pressure and was happy to ride her own pace.
"It was nice not to have people pushing me the whole way. I felt better being off the front," she said. "It's less stressful, and I know that this is a high flatting course. It allowed me to back off a little on the descents and to be smooth rather than on the limit."
Pendrel has won three of the four World Cups ever held in Windham, New York (2010, 2012 and 2014).
She is looking forward to the world championships in Norway in early September where she is hoping to repeat the win she took in 2011.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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