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Van Paassen prevails at CrossVegas

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The women on the line and ready to go.

The women on the line and ready to go.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Steely concentration before the women's start.

Steely concentration before the women's start.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Alison Powers leads on the first lap.

Alison Powers leads on the first lap.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Georgia Gould (Luna) leading into the third lap.

Georgia Gould (Luna) leading into the third lap.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Gabriella Day (Rapha-Focus) on one of the course's many grassy climbs.

Gabriella Day (Rapha-Focus) on one of the course's many grassy climbs.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Judy Freeman (Crank Bros) descending

Judy Freeman (Crank Bros) descending
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea) moves to the front through the sandy stair run up.

Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea) moves to the front through the sandy stair run up.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers) negotiates the sandy stairs.

Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers) negotiates the sandy stairs.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) winning CrossVegas over Lea Davison (Specialized)

Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) winning CrossVegas over Lea Davison (Specialized)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Olympic bronze medalist Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) being interviewed after the race

Olympic bronze medalist Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) being interviewed after the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mical Dyck (Stan's NoTubes) making easy work of a stair section.

Mical Dyck (Stan's NoTubes) making easy work of a stair section.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Mical Dyck (NoTubes) descending just behind the leaders

Mical Dyck (NoTubes) descending just behind the leaders
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Kelli Emmett (Giant) leading Amy Dombroski (Telenet Fidea) around an uphill turn

Kelli Emmett (Giant) leading Amy Dombroski (Telenet Fidea) around an uphill turn
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna) running with her bike

Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna) running with her bike
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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A girl has to dress the part when in Vegas

A girl has to dress the part when in Vegas
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sonya Looney dismounting before the steps

Sonya Looney dismounting before the steps
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Shannon Gibson (NoTubes) running some uphill barriers

Shannon Gibson (NoTubes) running some uphill barriers
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The lead women all chose to run these uphill steps

The lead women all chose to run these uphill steps
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Elite Women'’s start

Elite Women'’s start
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) on the run

Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) on the run
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Judy Woodruff (Crank Bros)

Judy Woodruff (Crank Bros)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Women’'s First Racing re-uniting at Cross Vegas

Women’'s First Racing re-uniting at Cross Vegas
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The new colors of Nicole Duke (Raleigh Clement)

The new colors of Nicole Duke (Raleigh Clement)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sanne van Paasen (Rabobank-Giant) meets the press after winning the women's race.

Sanne van Paasen (Rabobank-Giant) meets the press after winning the women's race.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) is planning a full 'cross season this year

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros) is planning a full 'cross season this year
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) warming up before the race

Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) warming up before the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Kelli Emmett (Giant) getting her bike dialed in

Kelli Emmett (Giant) getting her bike dialed in
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Elvis was in the house

Elvis was in the house
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Luna teammates Teal Stetson-Lee (L) and Georgia Gould (R)

Luna teammates Teal Stetson-Lee (L) and Georgia Gould (R)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) celebrating her victory

Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) celebrating her victory
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Meredith Miller (Specialized Giant Berry) was in the mix all night

Meredith Miller (Specialized Giant Berry) was in the mix all night
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) descending while in fifth place

Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) descending while in fifth place
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Julie Krasniak (Rapha Focus) maintaining contact with the leaders

Julie Krasniak (Rapha Focus) maintaining contact with the leaders
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Teal Stetson-Lee running the barriers in a big crowd of women

Teal Stetson-Lee running the barriers in a big crowd of women
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Linda Sone (Crossniaks PB Wesley Cycles) running a set of barriers

Linda Sone (Crossniaks PB Wesley Cycles) running a set of barriers
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Julie Krasniak (Rapha Focus) leading early in the race

Julie Krasniak (Rapha Focus) leading early in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Linda Sone (Crossniaks PB Wesley Cycles) before the race

Linda Sone (Crossniaks PB Wesley Cycles) before the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sanne van Paasen (Rabobank-Giant) takes the win.

Sanne van Paasen (Rabobank-Giant) takes the win.
(Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Mountain bikers Lea Davison (Specialized), left, and Kelli Emmett (Giant)

Mountain bikers Lea Davison (Specialized), left, and Kelli Emmett (Giant)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Sonya Looney had the most colorful kit of the night

Sonya Looney had the most colorful kit of the night
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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New Raleigh-Clement teammates Nicole Duke (L) and Caroline Mani

New Raleigh-Clement teammates Nicole Duke (L) and Caroline Mani
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) leading Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) early in the race

Lea Davison (Specialized) leading Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) early in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) opened a considerable lead but was later caught

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) opened a considerable lead but was later caught
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) descending one of the grassy hills

Lea Davison (Specialized) descending one of the grassy hills
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Amy Dombroski (Telenet Fidea) riding in the top five mid-race

Amy Dombroski (Telenet Fidea) riding in the top five mid-race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)
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Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) leading the race

Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team) leading the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/ www.trailwatch.net)

Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team) delivered on her billing as pre-race favourite with a victory in her debut appearance at CrossVegas. The 23-year-old Dutchwoman rode a tactically astute race, biding her time before making a devastating attack from a lead group of six late on the final lap.

Racing for the first time in the United States, as well as making her first appearance in a 'cross race as a member of the Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team, van Paassen dug deep to hold Lea Davison (Specialized) by one second and third-placed Alison Powers (Now And Novartis For MS) by two seconds with a winning effort that resulted in the Rabobank rider sprawled out on the grass parcours after the finish line, gasping for breath.

Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) finished in fourth place, also at two seconds, while Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles) and Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) rounded out the lead group of protagonists in fifth and sixth place.

"It's nice to start ['cross season] with a win," van Paassen told Cyclingnews. "It was very much like a road race with so many girls in the front. In Europe I haven't seen that before. It was very hard, although it looked very easy. The grass was very long and heavy."

Van Paassen opted to wait for latter portion of the final lap to seek her fortune, and although Lea Davison launched what appeared to be the winning solo move midway through the penultimate lap, the Rabobank rider's strategy ultimately worked to perfection.

"That was my tactic, but my legs were not feeling that good," said van Paassen. "I had to wait because the course was so heavy with the long grass. I saw that Davison attacked with two laps to go but it was too hard to stay away [from that far out] so I think it was a good tactic for me to wait."

While van Paassen is just starting a 'cross season with her eye on returning to the United States in February to seek a world championship, each of the two other riders on the final podium entered CrossVegas with the minimum of intentions for the pursuing the discipline further this year and were each surprised at the outcome.

"I've only done four 'cross races, but since I was peaking for mountain bike Worlds and the Olympics I thought I could definitely have a good one. This is my one token 'cross race [this season], but maybe I'll change plans after this," runner-up Lea Davison said with a laugh.

In addition to a high level of fitness, it was also Davison's bike handling skills which enabled her to launch her penultimate lap bid for glory as she was able to ride a stair section midway through the lap.

"I planned it. I practiced riding all the stairs but that one was the most smooth every time," said Davison. "I was the only one riding them and sometimes girls would run around me but once they were getting back on I'd just sprint over the top...and that's where I got a gap.

"I was pretty comfortable [in the lead group] up to that point. It seemed there were a lot of games going on. My plan was just to be patient and honestly I wanted to attack on the last lap but these things happen. I saw I had a gap and thought 'I guess I have to go with it for a lap and a half'. I didn't know if I had that in me but you might as well try it."

A rider who was prominent at the front earlier in the race and was instrumental in neutralising Davison's late race gambit was Alison Powers, who was able to parlay her road fitness into a third place result at CrossVegas.

"It's very out of the blue," Powers said of her finish in the 2012 edition. "I've come here before and got eighth place twice.

"I don't race 'cross, I'm a roadie. I'm real bad when the weather gets bad but when it's a grass crit and it's not very technical it's good for me. But I'm really surprised."

Regarding her early efforts at the head of the race Powers said, "I honestly thought I wasn't going to get top three, so I thought 'why not?' - you get press when you lead the race and I'm going to get after it to make these other people work to catch me. It was fun, I can't believe it!"

And it was her road experience that enabled Powers to bring back Davison on the final lap, but still remain in contention.

"I didn't hammer, though, I knew that they were sitting on me and would need to save something for the end. I just went hard enough to bring her back and then recover and go for the sprint."

Despite her podium placing in the first UCI C1-ranked 'cross race of the US season, Powers, too, has no further ambitions for the remaining events on the 'cross calendar.

"I'm done. The road season was long, I'm tired and I've got no ['cross] plans. It's fun, I'll race in Colorado, but I have no plans to travel."

The sixth edition of CrossVegas had the riders race a slightly longer lap, featuring a new section of stairs plus the first-ever appearance of a fly-over situated late in the lap, and the predominantly grass parcours would render a race featuring steady attrition.

At the beginning of the second lap 25 riders were still in contact with each other at the head of the race while midway through the next lap the lead pack had been trimmed to approximately half that size.

Olympic and world championship mountain bike bronze medalist Georgia Gould (Luna) would make a powerful attack at the beginning of the penultimate lap which further cut the front group in size , but it would reform containing all the expected contenders: Davison, van Paassen, Day, Gould, Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea), Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Béziers Méditerrané Cyclisme), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers), Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) and Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda/Seven/NoTubes).

It would be from this group that Davison attacked later in the lap on a section of stairs, but van Paassen was lurking and once the Specialized rider was caught the Dutchwoman launched an attack for which her competitors ultimately had no answer.

Full Results
1Sanne van Paassen (Ned) Rabobank Giant Off - Road Team0:44:10
2Lea Davison (USA) Specialized0:00:01
3Alison Powers (USA) Now And Novartis For MS0:00:02
4Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus
5Kelli Emmett (USA) Giant Bicycles0:00:03
6Meredith Miller (USA) Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized0:00:06
7Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra) Béziers Méditerrané Cyclisme0:00:24
8Judy Freeman (USA) Crankbrothers Race Club0:00:26
9Amy Dombroski (USA) Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:00:31
10Mary McConneloug (USA) Team Kenda/Seven/Notubes0:00:39
11Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team0:00:50
12Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) Luna Pro Team0:01:01
13Courtenay McFadden (USA) Voler/Bicycle Centres0:01:06
14Julie Krasniak (Fra) Rapha-Focus
15Mical Dyck (Can) Stan's NoTubes Elite Cyclocross Team0:01:33
16Jessica Cutler (USA) Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue Compe USA0:01:39
17Elle Anderson (USA) Ladies First0:02:06
18Andrea Smith (USA) Ladies First0:02:37
19Robin Farina (USA) Uptown Cycles0:02:38
20Chloe Woodruff (USA) Crankbrothers Race Club0:02:49
21Nicole Duke (USA) Raleigh-Clement0:03:20
22Emily Thurston (USA) Team Rambuski Law0:03:23
23Kate Powlison (USA) The Service Course | World Bicycle Relief0:03:24
24Ellen Sherrill (USA) Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster0:03:30
25Jean Ann Berkenpas (Can) Secret Cycles/Xprezo0:03:50
26Rebecca Gross (USA) KCCX0:04:14
27Carolin Schiff (Ger) Felt-SDG Factory Team0:04:18
28Lisa Hudson (USA) Feedback Sports0:04:28
29Rebecca Much (USA) The Service Course | World Bicycle Relief0:05:18
30Caroline Mani (Fra) Raleigh-Clement0:05:26
31Alexandra Burton (USA) Upper Echelon Fitness0:05:27
32Sydney Fox (USA) Summit Velo0:05:29
33Katie Arnold (USA) Bob's Red Mill0:05:39
34Anna Dingman (USA) Real Wheels Bicycle Studio0:05:45
35Sonya Looney (USA) Team Super Awesome0:06:09
36Ellen Noble (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective0:06:20
37Linda Sone (USA) Crossniacs p/b Wesley Cycles0:06:22
38Cara Applegate (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech Training Pb A USA0:07:12
39Elizabeth So (USA) Les Petites Victoires0:07:37
40Shannon Gibson (USA) Stan's NoTubes Elite Cyclocross Team0:08:11
41Suzanne Johnson (USA) Michelob Ultra Big Shark Racing0:09:11
42Sofia Gomez Villafane (Arg)0:09:48
43Cristina Begy (USA) Gates Carbon Drive

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