Carey wins North Carolina Grand Prix opener

Amanda Carey (Volkswagen Boise Cycling) soloed to the first UCI 'cross win of her career at the North Carolina Grand Prix in a race she led from start to finish. Katie Arnold (Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross) finished alone in second 20 seconds later while North Carolina's own Emily Shields (Mock Orange Bikes) steadily advanced throughout the five-lap race to secure the final podium position 14 seconds later.

"I've been on podiums with really fast people, but I've never won one of my own so this is great," Carey told Cyclingnews.

While Carey has a palmares chock full of victories in ultra-distance mountain bike events, she proved she's got a quick turn of speed as well in a 40-minute 'cross race as she got the holeshot onto the grass and soon found herself alone in the lead on the opening lap.

"I wanted to take advantage of the front-row start, I don't think I've had one of those all season long," said Carey. "I just wanted to stay out of trouble and ride smooth and smart.

"This is a deceivingly hard course because it takes so much power. You have to pedal and if you don't you just shut down. There's absolutely no room for rest because as soon as you stop pedalling you're losing time."

Carey was initially pursued by a three-rider chase group containing Rebecca Blatt (Van Dessel), Katie Arnold (Bob's Red Mill) and Kelly Fisher-Goodwin (BOO Bicycles), but first Fisher-Goodwin dropped from the pursuit and then Arnold dispatched of Blatt.

"From the beginning Amanda just took off right out of the gate then someone went down which allowed the gap to grow even larger," Arnold told Cyclingnews. "I was working with Rebecca Blatt to kind of close the gap and it just wasn't happening. I attacked and was able to close down the gap a little bit but it was too late in the race to catch back up to Amanda. She had a great race.

"It was the perfect day, perfect weather, and it was one of those courses where you could really sprint in the straights and kind of rest in the technical sections. It was broken up pretty nicely. It's a course with a little bit of everything so that was nice."

Entering the fifth and final lap Carey held a 21-second lead over Arnold, while a determined Emily Shields (Mock Orange Bikes) moved into podium contention as she made contact with Blatt as the pair heard the bell for one lap to go.

"I was worried at the beginning, I didn't think I would do very well, but then I kept on catching people," Shields told Cyclingnews.

While Carey and Arnold solidly remained in their respective first and second place positions through to the finish line, the battle for third came down to the final trip up the "wall" where a miscue by Blatt provided the window of opportunity for Emily Shields to claim third.

"She slipped at the bottom and I just went as hard as I could," said Shields.

Southern sojourn

Carey, a resident of Victor, Idaho and sponsored by a Boise-based team, is in the midst of a one-week stint in western North Carolina and found the much gentler climes to her liking.

"I'm going to stay out of the snow and do a bunch of road riding," said Carey. "My introduction to North Carolina was in 2010 at the Pisgah stage race and I fell in love with it. For mountain biking it's one of my favorite places on the planet.

"At this point in the season it's more about keeping your head on straight than speed in your legs. At this point we're all totally cooked legs-wise, but mentally I'm still having a great time."

She's also taking advantage of the points up for offer at one of the final UCI race weekends on tap prior to US 'cross nationals to improve her start grid position with the goal of a top-ten finish in mind.

"All the women who are trying to vie for the Worlds ['cross] team, which I'm not, are packing up and going over to Europe and so this is a great way for me to get out of the snow, train a little bit longer, put in a good block before nationals because I'm not going to Europe.

"I can put in this week of training and then go home and ski, enjoy Christmas and New Year's at home, then wrap it up with Chicago and nationals."

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Full Results
1Amanda Carey (USA) Volkswagen Boise Cycling0:42:16
2Katie Arnold (USA) Bob's Red Mill0:00:20
3Emily Shields (USA) Mock Orange Bikes0:00:34
4Erica Zaveta (USA) Lees McRae College0:00:42
5Rebecca Blatt (USA) Van DesselRow 4 - Cell 2
6Ellen Noble (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective0:00:45
7Katherine Shields (USA) Mock Orange Bikes0:00:57
8Erin Silliman (USA) Corsa Concepts Cyclocross Team0:01:00
9Sara Tussey (USA) VeloShine Cycling Team0:01:03
10Corey Coogan-Cisek (USA) p/b Blue Competition Cycles0:01:23
11Allison Arensman (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABRC0:01:33
12Marne Smiley (USA) Bob's Red Mill Racing0:02:34
13Cinthia Lehner (USA) Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech p/b ABR0:02:48
14Deb Sweeney Whitmore (USA) PainPathways Cycling Team0:03:40
15Carol Jeane Sansome (USA) Silver Cycling0:03:49
16Julie Hunter (USA) BikeBeat/VaAssetGroup0:04:49
17Elizabeth Lee (USA) Louis Garneau Factory Team p/b Fuji0:05:28
DNFKelly Fisher-Goodwin (USA) BOO BicyclesRow 17 - Cell 2

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