Gould solos to gold in Granby

Georgia Gould (Luna Women's Team) rode to a solo victory after a dominant performance at the elite women's national championship cross country race in Granby, Colorado, on Saturday afternoon. Gould defeated last year's national champion Heather Irmiger and her Subaru-Trek teammate Willow Koerber. Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) and Katie Compton (Planet Bike) rounded out the top five.

"I'm happy with how everything's been going," said Gould after winning the title and continuing her domestic winning streak. "It's been my plan, and I've been feeling good and riding well. To be here with such good competition is really motivating."

Gould, Irmiger, Compton and Koerber surged to the front at the start. Gould said it was her plan to be at the front from the gun. "There were places where someone could make a mistake, and I knew that on the downhill, it'd be pretty dusty behind someone. I thought that if I could go at a do-able pace to be in front and be steady, then I'd go for it.

At the end of the start loop, heading into the first lap, Irmiger lost a few places when she stopped to change a flat tire at the tech zone after the start loop.

"I was right in there with Willow and Georgia on the first lap, and then I got a front flat," said Irmiger. "I only lost like 20 seconds (when swapping wheels at the tech zone), but I had to make sure that wasn't the reason I lost. I wanted to make sure that if I didn't win, whomever won would have had a really incredible race, and Georgia did that. She was incredible today. I felt awesome, and she was on fire."

Koerber took over as lead chaser behind Gould when Irmiger flatted, but the fast start took its toll. "I faded after the first half-lap. I got the chills and thought 'uh oh'. I guess I started a little hard, but I never know what's going to happen at altitude," said Koerber. "It felt like a long race. It's brutal out there. It's bumpy and there was nowhere to rest plus there were super steep climbs."

The experienced Irmiger remained calm and worked her way back up to second with a consistent ride throughout the rest of the race.

At the front, Gould was cruising. "I tried to keep a little in reserve at the beginning because with altitude, you never know. It can shut you down pretty fast. I tried to settle in and ride my own race," said Gould.

Koerber and Compton were left to battle for third place.

Compton, who is gearing up for 'cross season in the fall, rode a steady pace throughout. "I don't have much right now. It's all one pace. I have one speed," said Compton, who was diagnosed with a hypothyroid condition this spring and has been working to get it under control with medication. "I looked at the race as sort of a time trial and just rode."

Koerber recovered from her start and passed Compton for third as the race progressed. "I thought if I could get a little break, I could get it back together and keep charging. Today was pretty tough. It was like the gift that kept on giving," said Koerber.

Overall, Koerber described her race as "marginal,mediocre... you know, 'M' words like that. It was one of those days when you earn your money. You don't feel that great, but you still do your best and you never know." Koerber's third place came despite a flat tire on the third of four laps. "I had to work pretty hard because of the flat. It was one of those days where it wasn't easy, but it's not always going to feel effortless."

McConneloug rode like a diesel engine, looking stronger and stronger as the laps passed and as she reeled in the faster starters.

"I have one speed at altitude. It's either go or not go," said McConneloug. "I was trying to maintain a smooth pace and even if I just go a little over threshold, I'll blow. I was careful to monitor that. It's the reality of the physical situation of racing at alitude."

"It was neat to see the race come back to me. It's such a tough race because everyone wants it so bad," said McConneloug, who said she was really enjoy the mid-season. "It's perfect - I love this time of year. It's about racing and resting up in between. There aren't long hours of training. I'm just getting started."

She and rest of the podium finishers will head to Champery, Switzerland, mid-week for a World Cup next weekend.

Race notes

Those who have followed the sport of mountain biking for awhile noticed a familiar name from years past on the start list: Tammy Jacques Grewal competed and finished in an impressive 15th place.  Jacques Grewal, who retired from the pro circuit in 1999 and then had two children, recently recovered from a life-threatening illness affecting her pancreas and was happy to be feeling healthy again and out riding her bike.

Pua Sawicki (OkoleStuff.com) suffered a mechanical on the first lap, but rode herself back up to sixth place.

Full Results

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Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)1:45:49
2Heather Irmiger (Subaru/Trek)0:02:41
3Willow Koerber (Subaru/Trek)0:03:50
4Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes)0:04:12
5Katherine Compton (Planet Bike / Stevens / Kenda)0:05:13
6Pua Sawicki (OkoleStuff.com)0:05:53
7Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles)0:06:51
8Allison Mann (Rock 'n' Road Cyclery)0:07:16
9Erin Huck (University of Colorado-Boulder)0:08:34
10Judy Freeman (Kenda / Felt Mountain Bike Team)0:09:08
11Amanda Carey (Kenda / Felt)0:09:59
12Katherine Sherwin (Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt)0:10:42
13Teal Stetson-Lee (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory)0:11:21
14Nina Baum (Cannondale)0:13:42
15Tammy Jacques-Grewal (Honey Stinger/Eriksen)0:14:07
16Lisa Hudson0:15:02
17Alice Pennington (Team S&M)0:15:27
18Amy Dombroski (Luna Pro Team)0:16:42
19Kelly Boniface0:17:15
20Becca Blay (Mafia Racing)0:18:47
21Sonya Bugbee0:22:59
22Shannon Gibson (Velo Bella)0:23:41
23Erin Disterheft (Team Billys)0:24:27
24Heather Szabo (Tokyo Joes)0:26:36
25Joele Guynup (IRC/Everti Bicycles)0:26:59
26Lisa Curry (Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club/Gallatin Alpine Sports/Intrinsik Archite)0:27:22
DNSAnna Fortner (The Team)Row 26 - Cell 2
DNFChloe Forsman (Tokyo Joes)Row 27 - Cell 2
DNFZephanie Blasi (Titus-NoTubes-Kenda-ICE)Row 28 - Cell 2
DNFMeghan Korol (Mafia Racing)Row 29 - Cell 2
DNFKrista Park (Cannondale/Incycle.com)Row 30 - Cell 2

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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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