Georgia Gould (Luna) soloed to her third US cross country national title in Sun Valley, Idaho, on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. The victory was especially sweet because she used to live in Ketchum, the place where she got into mountain bike racing, and many locals had come out to cheer her. Gould set a steady, but hard pace from the start and led the race throughout.
"It's awesome to win here. It's like coming full circle," said Gould. "I did my first mountain bike race at Galena Lodge, 20 miles north of here. I'm excited they had this race here because everyone can come see how awesome the riding is here and how great the community is."
The battle for second was a tight one between Lea Davison (Specialized) and Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) with Davison getting the better of Compton in the latter half of the race.
The women raced a sub-four mile course which featured an extremely long and steep uphill on a loose fire road followed by a long, smooth, wooded, singletrack descent.
"That climb is so hard that I knew it would be important to not go out too hard," said Gould. "You want to be near the front because there is no passing on the downhill, but I think everyone was in the same boat."
After the first lap. Gould led Compton by about 10 seconds. Davison and Irmiger followed at 20 seconds while Kelli Emmett (Giant) rode in fifth.
Compton rode strong, keeping Gould in her sights for the next two laps while Davison rode in third about one minute back.
Davison got stronger and stronger as the race progressed and she started moving up. With just over a lap to go, Davison caught Compton. That was also about the time Compton got a flat.
"I flatted on the fourth lap. I felt it getting soft and I could hear the sealant leaking out through the rock garden," said Compton. "Lucky enough that was close to the tech zone, where she got a wheel change."
Davison rode off into second place, madly chasing Gould, who was eager to defend her title. She also won in 2005.
"Lea was charging. I knew she was not that far behind," said Gould. "I was in the front and I tried to be as conservative as you can be when you're going all out by the top of the climb. I tried to save a little in case someone caught up and attacked... though it would have been a granny gear attack on that climb."
Gould was also plagued by cramps on the final climb. "I was cramping so badly on that last lap. Only my pride was keeping me from getting off my bike and walking. That last pitch with the feed zone at the top was the place where I tried the hardest all this year. I kept thinking don't give up and push."
Her effort was enough to let her race to victory by 23 seconds.
Davison was ecstatic at achieving her best national championship finish ever: a silver medal. "I felt better and better as the race went on. I was closing on that last climb, but I can only be happy. Georgia was on the podium at the World Cup so to be so close to her was a confidence boost. She rode a great race."
Davison's best previous finish was and eighth place two years ago in Granby, Colorado. Last year, she missed the entire season due to a hip injury.
Compton was the only one of the top three women not to suffer from cramps during the race. "It was nice to have a good ride. That hill was so tough the race was like a time trial. I was descending decently today."
Former national champion Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) raced to fourth place. "My race was so-so. I was 90 percent everywhere," said Irmiger, who finished 5:16 after Gould. "I know no one felt good on the climb, but I felt like I didn't have my top end on the climb and on the descent I was just sort of there. It was a weird day."
Emmett, who has focused her training on the upcoming Leadville 100, claimed the final podium spot in fifth at 6:23. "This was my first podium at an altitude race," she said. "I felt good and kept it steady. For me, it was a matter of not making any big, sudden moves. I don't have the speed that some of the girls have. I'm happy with today."
- National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series winner Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) made an unusual appearance in the cross country race instead of racing at the Breckenridge 100 NUE round today. The 100-miler queen put in an impressively fast ride to finish seventh.
- First year elite racer Sage Wilderman (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory) finished eighth. Last year's Under 23 women's champion was excited to be mixing it up with the best women in the country.
- Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were spotted watching the elite women's cross country race. The couple has a home nearby.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)||1:40:14|
|2||Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing)||0:00:23|
|3||Katherine Compton (RaboBank - Giant Off Road Team)||0:01:14|
|4||Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek)||0:05:16|
|5||Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles)||0:06:23|
|6||Judy Freeman (Kenda / Felt Mountain Bike Team)||0:07:10|
|7||Amanda Carey (Kenda / Felt Mountain Bike Team)||0:08:43|
|8||Sage Wilderman (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory)||0:09:03|
|9||Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes)||0:09:39|
|10||Nina Baum (NoTubes Elite Womens Team)||0:10:40|
|11||Katherine Sherwin (NoTubes Elite Womens Team)||0:11:10|
|14||Carolyn Popovic (Team CF)||0:12:37|
|15||Krista Park (Cannondale/NoTubes)||0:13:04|
|17||Sarah Kaufmann (Team Roaring Mouse)||0:15:34|
|20||Chloe Forsman (BMC Mountainbike Development Team USA)||0:18:20|
|24||Rebecca Gross (Velo Bella)||0:19:43|
|26||Zephanie Blasi (NoTubes Elite Women's Team)||0:21:18|
|27||Lisa Hudson (Feedback Sports Racing)||0:24:03|
|29||Shannon Gibson (NoTubes Elite Women's Team)||0:24:52|
|-1lap||Kari Studley (Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt)|
|DNF||Teal Stetson-Lee (Sweet Elite Rocky Mountain Chocolate Fac)|
|DNS||Mary Mcconneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes)|
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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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