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Davison solos to her first US cross country national title

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Lea Davison (Specialized) wins the elite women's cross country national title

Lea Davison (Specialized) wins the elite women's cross country national title
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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After a disastrous start, defending champion Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) worked her way back to sixth place.

After a disastrous start, defending champion Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) worked her way back to sixth place.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Erica Tingey (Team Jamis) seemed to be enjoying her ride down the stairs.

Erica Tingey (Team Jamis) seemed to be enjoying her ride down the stairs.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) talking with announcer Larry Longo at the finish.

Lea Davison (Specialized) talking with announcer Larry Longo at the finish.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) staying cool in her ice vest while chatting with Cyclingnews' Sue George.

Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) staying cool in her ice vest while chatting with Cyclingnews' Sue George.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Crank Brothers teammates Chloe Woodruff and Judy Freeman

Crank Brothers teammates Chloe Woodruff and Judy Freeman
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) takes the hole shot as the race got underway

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) takes the hole shot as the race got underway
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda) head out onto the start loop.

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda) head out onto the start loop.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Selene Yeager (Team CF) riding the very technical descent.

Selene Yeager (Team CF) riding the very technical descent.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air Cannondale) climbing one of the ski hills with one lap to go

Pua Mata (Sho-Air Cannondale) climbing one of the ski hills with one lap to go
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Evelyn Dong climbing just after she had passed Judy Freeeman

Evelyn Dong climbing just after she had passed Judy Freeeman
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air Cannondale) takes the silver medal

Pua Mata (Sho-Air Cannondale) takes the silver medal
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Picturesque Bear Creek Resort was hot and steamy for the US National Championships

Picturesque Bear Creek Resort was hot and steamy for the US National Championships
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Pro Team) riding a steep chute on lap one

Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Pro Team) riding a steep chute on lap one
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Jamie Busch (Quadzilla Racing) near the end of lap one with Georgia Gould walking behind her.

Jamie Busch (Quadzilla Racing) near the end of lap one with Georgia Gould walking behind her.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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The woods were full of cheering spectators today as Lea Davison (Specialized) put on a show.

The woods were full of cheering spectators today as Lea Davison (Specialized) put on a show.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) rounding a 180-degree corner on lap two.

Lea Davison (Specialized) rounding a 180-degree corner on lap two.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe’s) descending on lap two

Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe’s) descending on lap two
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Young Evelyn Dong from Park City overtook Judy Freeman to claim fifth place today.

Young Evelyn Dong from Park City overtook Judy Freeman to claim fifth place today.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Judy Freeman (Crank Brothers) takes an interesting line down a nearly impossible trail.

Judy Freeman (Crank Brothers) takes an interesting line down a nearly impossible trail.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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These kids were ready to race at Bear Creek Resort.

These kids were ready to race at Bear Creek Resort.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Former USA Champion Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) wishing Lea Davison good luck at the starting line.

Former USA Champion Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) wishing Lea Davison good luck at the starting line.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) rode to a top ten finish despite a first lap tumble.

Nina Baum (NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) rode to a top ten finish despite a first lap tumble.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Sarah Kaufman (NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) looked good on lap one but later dropped out after breaking her chain

Sarah Kaufman (NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) looked good on lap one but later dropped out after breaking her chain
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) suffered a first lap flat about as far away from the tech zone as possible.

Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) suffered a first lap flat about as far away from the tech zone as possible.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) rode consistently in second place

Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) rode consistently in second place
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) is no stranger to rocks and roots. She handled them with ease.

Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) is no stranger to rocks and roots. She handled them with ease.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) rode brilliantly to a fourth place finish on her new Scott machine

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) rode brilliantly to a fourth place finish on her new Scott machine
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe’s) making a dab on the descent with Evelyn Dong on her wheel

Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe’s) making a dab on the descent with Evelyn Dong on her wheel
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Maureen Bruno-Roy (Cycle Loft) riding one of the rocky off-camber sections of the descent.

Maureen Bruno-Roy (Cycle Loft) riding one of the rocky off-camber sections of the descent.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) was on a mission today. She would win by nearly three minutes.

Lea Davison (Specialized) was on a mission today. She would win by nearly three minutes.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) broke her leg in March and spent a couple months recovering from surgery. Her recovery has been amazing.

Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) broke her leg in March and spent a couple months recovering from surgery. Her recovery has been amazing.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) sailing over the roots and rocks.

Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) sailing over the roots and rocks.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) could not quite close the gap to Mary McConneloug. She rode alone for most of the race.

Chloe Woodruff (Crank Brothers) could not quite close the gap to Mary McConneloug. She rode alone for most of the race.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) riding to the bronze medal today.

Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) riding to the bronze medal today.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Lea Davison (Specialized) wins the elite women's cross country national title

Lea Davison (Specialized) wins the elite women's cross country national title
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)

Lea Davison (Specialized) raced to win her first-ever US elite women's cross country national championship on Saturday afternoon at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania. US marathon champion Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Specialized) earned the silver medal ahead of Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Stan's NoTubes) in third.

"I am absolutely thrilled. It's a little bit surreal right now. I've been going for this title for years, and I'm so excited," said Davison. "This was a big aim for this season. I had good luck, and it came together on the day."

Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Racing) led the women out during the first half lap. Then Davison took over the lead, followed closely by Gould and Mata.

Defending national champion Georgia Gould (Luna) was with the other favorites and in second place during the first lap when she crashed and flatted. Though she said that she's not sure which happened first, she was far enough from the tech zone that the flat cost her any chance of reclaiming the title.

When Gould went down, a slight gap opened up as Mata and then McConneloug went around her.

"The first lap, I knew something had happened, and I tried to keep it steady," said Davison. "It's too bad when it comes down to bad luck and crashes and flats, but I guess that's all part of it. Georgia is an unbelievable competitor. She is the bronze medallist from the Olympics. She's never to be counted out."

Gould was disappointed, but kept her perspective during what has been a trying post-Olympic season. "That's just part of the game. My flat happened right after I went through the tech zone. It was the beginning of the technical downhill. I don't know if the crash made me flat or if I flatted and that made me crash."

"I was right on Lea's wheel and I don't know what I did. It was a front flat through all that chunky stuff, and then it was slippery dirt on foot. I had to run the whole downhill."

With Gould well out of medal contention, the race was Davison's to lose. She knew it and tried to keep her cool.

"I just kept it smooth from there. I had 20 seconds on the first lap, and I extended it a little on the second lap. You can gain a lot of time on the technical sections," said Davison, who raved about the course.

"The course is unbelievable. I think it did the east coast justice," said Davison. "It was technical, rooty and rocky and it's demanding the entire time. It requires focus the entire time. A few times, I lost focus and would dab. I had to focus on keeping it smooth because the little mistakes add up. It's great to have nationals back on the east coast - my home turf." Davison is from Vermont.

Behind Davison, Mata led the chase. Her body language was not as smooth as Davison's over the rocks.

"After Georgia went down, I was trying to catch back up, but I think Lea and I were riding the same pace. Then I think I got a little too anxious, and I was making stupid mistakes here and there and that was it. She was probably riding perfectly," said Mata, who is the current marathon national champion and is recovering well after breaking her leg earlier this season.

McConneloug rode solo in third place for most of the race.

"I was pretty much in third all day. I knew if I pushed any harder, I'd get woozy," said McConneloug. "I just stayed within myself and really enjoyed the trail. it was a meditation of rocks. To stay smooth on that and it was a power course. Whenever it'd pitch up, I'd lock it out and go. I rode and enjoyed it. I knew I had a little gap in front and behind, and the short track is tomorrow."

Davison crossed the line all smiles in a time of 1:35:00. Mata followed at 2:47.

"On the last lap, I hit a rock and my rear tire burped," said Mata. "I stopped and was trying to figure out whether to put air in it. I didn't know how far back Mary was. I just tried to ride it conservatively on the rocks because I didn't want it to completely lose the air."

"My race was good. Of course, I wished for a different outcome, but I did what I could," said Mata.

McConneloug was also happy to clinch a bronze medal, finish 5:22 after Davison. The former Olympian said, "I'm stoked to be here. It's my 10th national championship. It's cool to turn 42 this year and finish on the podium."

Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers) rode in on 650b wheels for an impressive fourth place finish despite struggling during the race.

"It was kind of miserable out there with the heat and the humidity, but the fans on the technical rock garden were awesome. I was thinking I loved them on my way through. Evelyn [Dong] had a strong ride and really pushed me the last lap. We've been back and forth like that through a lot of races."

Evelyn Dong rounded out the top five with a career breakout performance.

"The technical parts were more about grunting it out. It was more like fitness-based technical riding as opposed to pure skill," said Dong who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. "I tried to keep pedaling and not get too negative out there. It was a real different kind of a course. I'm more of a Rocky Mountains kind of a girl, so this was a bit of a change for me. I was just relieved to finish in the top five."

Gould put in an impressive ride to move back up from nearly last after her flat tire to sixth place.

"For me, there is always someone who finishes last. It's not how I want to do it, but I respect everyone who finishes the race, no matter how they do, so I can't be like, 'screw this, I'm not on the podium'. I have to finish," said Gould.

"I made it up to sixth. At one point, someone told me it was six minutes to the leader, and I was thinking, 'Oh, maybe don't tell me that.' I'm disappointed because I think it could have been a good battle, but it's part of racing."

Race note

The supporters of the Singlespeed Cyclo-cross World Championships in Philly coming up in December of 2013 started a cheering section which would build into a raucous crowd in the technical rocky downhill section of the course. Drinking beer and cheering and heckling loudly as each rider passed the "Hand-ups are not illegal" banner gave racers extra motivation through that section.

"That cheering section was unbelievable. It was like full on World Cup," said Davison after her win.

Gould said, "In the pre-ride, I put a foot down there half the time, but I cleared it every time in the race in front of that crowd. They make you feel amazing. People were awesome out there. That crowd at the top motivated me. I thought of doing an extra lap just to ride past them again."

Full Results

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing)1:35:00
2Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Cannondale)0:02:48
3Mary Mcconneloug (Kenda/Stans Notubes)0:05:22
4Chloe Woodruff0:07:10
5Evelyn Dong0:07:21
6Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)0:09:11
7Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers Race Club)0:09:41
8Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus)0:13:00
9Teal Stetson-Lee (Team Luna Chix)0:13:24
10Nina Baum0:16:09
11Amy Beisel (Griggs Orthopedics)0:16:47
12Maureen Bruno Roy (Cycle Loft Velo)0:17:26
13Jamie Busch (Quadzilla Racing)0:17:59
14Erica Tingey (Team Jamis)0:19:28
15Kathleen Harding (Team CF)0:21:19
16Cheryl Sornson (Team CF)0:24:49
-2lapsSarah Sturm (Durango Devo)
-2lapsRebecca Gross (Tough Girl Cycling)
-2lapsSelene Yeager (Team CF)
-2lapsBryna Blanchard (Windham Mountain Cycling Club)
-2lapsNicole Thiemann (Team CF)
-2lapsErica Zaveta (Team Redline)
-2lapsElizabeth Allen (Danielson Adventure Sports)
-2lapsElisa Otter
DNFErin Huck (Tokyo Joes)
DNFSarah Kaufmann (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's)

 

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