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Elliott victorious in Toronto

Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chausseurs) bolstered her resume by claiming a fifth season victory at the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross round one held at the Centennial Park in Etobicoke, Canada. The rising star soloed in nearly 45 seconds ahead of Planet Bike duo Linda Sone and Kristin Wentworth.

"It's great to win here," said Elliott. "I know these courses. I just wanted to conserve myself. I know the hill is a big part of the race. That's what the race is all about."

Elliott collected valuable points for her win in Toronto to put toward the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series, combined with her double victory weekend in the Gloucester Grand Prix has put her in a commanding overall series lead.

"I was originally going for the Verge New England series," Elliott said. "The NACT is kind of spread all over the place. After my two wins at Gloucester I knew I had a good chance at winning it. Now, I don't know if I have to fly to Boulder. I'm planning on doing South Hampton, I should be good even if I don't go to Boulder."

The Toronto Midweek Cycling Club hosted the 16th annual Toronto International Cyclocross race at the Centennial Park ski area. The first round started at the base of Toronto's notable ski hill, a local where many young Torontonians learn to descend its shallow slopes. The course is 'old-hack' to Elliott who won both rounds the previous year.

The small but strong ladies field started with a blast out of the gates from Sarah Stewart (Total Restoration). The early leader lost ground when she crashed into the barriers on her first attempt. Elliott manoeuvred around the crash in pursuit of the new pace setter Pepper Harlton (Juventus Cycling Club).

Elliott and Harlton met on the previous weekend at the Canadian National Championships, where the pair duked it out for second place behind national champion Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis). The familiarity with one another was apparent on the Centennial Park ski hill where Harlton used her climbing power to try and drop Elliott.

"When she came passed me on the hill the first time I was thinking 'oh, I don't know if I have those kinds of legs today," Elliott said. "But, that was all she had there. I wanted to hit it on certain places like the off cambre stuff and the corners."

Elliott responded to Harlton with her technical prowess through the twists and turns at the base of the ascent on the second lap. She continued to build her lead up the hill and followed it up by taking clean, fast lines on the technical descent. Harlton tried to limit her losses by negotiating each corner at her own pace.

Elliott continued to build her lead to a hefty 30, then 40 seconds. The race heated up behind as chasers Sone and Wentworth closed in on Harlton. The game was on for second place when the three riders connected with two laps to go. "I like the technical stuff with a lot of the turns and I found that that was where I could recover," said Sone. "Then I was able to give it all on the hill."

Harlton's efforts on the first lap proved to be tiresome as she fell off the pace and slipped into fourth place behind teammates Sone and Wentworth. Sone opened up a slim lead for second place ahead of Wentworth. Harlton placed fourth ahead of a second chase group that included Gesa Bruechmann (Stevens), Sara Bresnick (Pedalpowercoaching) and Sarah Stewart.

"I'm still working on my starts and my hills," Sone continued. "I was trying to pick people off. I need to work on being explosive and settling into a nice pace. I was really trying to catch Pepper. I could see her about 15 seconds ahead. I think Pepper let up a little bit and once we got together I got a gap in the technical parts with two laps to go."

Full results
1Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chausseurs0:42:09
2Linda Sone (USA) Planet Bike0:01:13
3Kristin Wentworth (USA) Planet Bike0:01:20
4Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Planet Bike0:01:33
5Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club0:01:43
6Sarah Stewart (Can) Total Restoration0:01:53
7Gesa Bruechmann (Ger) Stevens Racing Team0:01:55
8Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (USA) Pedalpowercoaching.Com/ Landry0:02:25
9Joele Guynup (USA) Island Racing Club0:02:50
10Linnea Koons (USA) October Factory Racing0:02:57
11Melissa Bunn (Can) The Hub Race Team0:03:09
12Anna Young (USA) Pioneer Racing0:03:43
13Marne Smiley (USA) Scott Bikes0:04:40
14Vicki Thomas (Can) Ottawa Cross0:04:56
15Rachel Mirvish (Can) Hb Cycling Club0:05:30
16Kate Harris (Can) October Factory Racing0:06:35
17Sarah Coney (Can) Ride With Rendall0:06:57
18Lesley Chown (Can) Nickel City Cyclists0:10:27

19Emily Fisher (Can) Cycle Solutions/Angry Johnny’S
20Justine Robidoux (Can)

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