Willow Koerber (Gary Fisher/Subaru), often a bridesmaid in short track races, finally got her first win in Fontana. Riding together in a breakaway with teammate Heather Irmiger, the two controlled much of the race, finishing one-two. Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), the pre-race favourite, finished third while Norwegian Lene Byberg (Specialized) was fourth and Mical Dyck (Trek Canada) took fifth.
Two major changes in the Fontana event proved to be critical to the outcome; firstly, the climbing was decreased, which also made the course a bit shorter. Secondly, the women raced 15 minutes plus one lap, instead of 20 minutes plus three. This made the race even faster than normal, and mistakes even more costly.
The promoter's intent was to make the racing more exciting and it seemed to do so. Most of the racers Cyclingnews talked with after the race seemed to favor the new format.
Lene Byberg got the hole shot and led the women around the track for a lap or two before Kelli Emmett took a turn at the front. "I love short track racing, and it's also the kind of training I need," said Byberg. "I decided to go really hard at the start like you have to in the World Cups. It's one thing that I have been struggling with."
A select group formed at the front that included Byberg, Kelli Emmett (Giant), Koerber, Gould, Irmiger, and Dyck. In what seemed to be a heartbeat, the Gary Fisher women attacked the field and immediately opened a gap; Georgia Gould took up the chase and many spectators thought she might close it down, but that didn't happen.
With one lap to go, Gould found another gear and seemed to move on the Gary Fisher women but at that point it was too late.
"We've always wanted to do something like this together but it's never worked out. It was really fun," said Irmiger, adding, "We definitely communicated out there, letting each other know we were together and not against each other. It was the only way we were going to hold those girls off."
Koerber rode a perfect race with superior climbing adding to her technical skills. "I just felt really good and that 15-minute format gave me a mental edge because I've been doing those kind of intervals," she said. "I felt really good on that climb. When I feel good on a climb it is a good thing."
The next US Pro XCT short track competition will be at the Sea Otter Classic on April 17.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher)|
|2||Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher)|
|3||Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)|
|4||Lene Byberg (Specialized)|
|5||Mical Dyck (Trek Canada)|
|6||Kelli Emmett (Giant Factory Team)|
|7||Emily Batty (Trek World Racing)|
|8||Pua Sawicki (Okole Stuff.Com)|
|9||Allison Mann (Rock N Road Cyclery)|
|10||Judy Freeman (Kenda/Felt)|
|11||Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt)|
|12||Krista Park (Cannondale/Incycle)|
|13||Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing)|
|15||Kari Studley (Mafia Racing)|
|16||Philicia Marion (AMC/Kenda/Tomac)|
|DNF||Catherine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team)|
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