It's not every race that ends with the winner being serenaded to "Happy Birthday" by fans as she crosses the finish line, but Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) got exactly that greeting Sunday at the Trek US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Deschutes Brewery Cup after a brazen race-long solo effort that paid off with her second win in as many days.
Day two of the USGP in Bend, Oregon, played out a lot like the first for the Elite women. Birthday girl Nash claimed the podium's top step, while Luna teammate Georgia Gould came in second and Caroline Mani (Raleigh-Clement) finished third to repeat the podium from the day before.
Gould's two second-place finishes this weekend moved her to the top of the final series standings over Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective), who won the first six races of the series but skipped the final two. Julie Krasniak's seventh-place finish Sunday was disappointing for the Rapha-Focus rider from France, but it preserved her third-place spot in the series standings.
"I wasn't really thinking about that," said Krasniak, who finished 11th the day before. "I was trying to finish my race and not be disappointed. It was a bad weekend, but I have given all I have and I did a good workout. I'm just having a bad weekend this week."
Krasniak did get off to another fast start on Sunday, fighting Nicole Duke for the holeshot and then settling into the top three with Duke and Nash. But that lead trio was short-lived after Nash distanced herself from the group in the technical sections on the backside of the course. The former Czech national champion had an eight-second lead over Krasniak by the end of the first lap, while Gould and the rest of the field dangled just behind.
Both Luna riders started slowly and were 5-10 riders back as the race headed into the dirt and wooded sections on the east side of the course, but Nash was able to regain the front before the technical bits, while Gould was left to battle through traffic over the short-steep inclines and tight turns.
"We both kind of a had a bad start," Nash said of herself and Gould. "But I came around on the straightaway on the back side of the course. I just wanted to get into the technical stuff in first place. It gives you an advantage because if you mess it up everybody behind you will mess it up."
Gould could only watch as Nash, riding in the clear, started opening up the winning advantage.
"She got around that group at the perfect time," Gould said. "And I just didn't have time to go with her before all the technical stuff. It was like someone bobbled on every little hill. And then by the time I got through the traffic it was just too big to close down. It's disappointing, but I did the best I could."
Gould caught Krasniak halfway through the second of six laps and briefly stayed with the French rider before jettisoning her and going after Nash, who had an 18-second lead over Gould by the end of the lap two.
That's when Krasniak started to fade, falling back into a chasing group that was beginning to form behind. But as Krasniak faded, another French rider, Mani, started to surge. The Raleigh-Clement rider jumped away from the chasers and into third place, trailing Gould by just nine seconds and Nash by 38 as they closed out the third lap.
With the top three places starting to look well established, Krasniak joined Elle Anderson (Ladies First racing) and Optum Pro Cycling riders Amanda Miller and Jade Wilcoxson in the next group on the course.
With just two laps remaining, Nash led Gould by 28 seconds and Mani by 44 seconds. She had 1:10 over Krasniak, Miller, Anderson and Wilcoxson, who attacked the chasing group on the penultimate lap and had a slight lead over the rest, who were all chasing individually as they took the bell for the final loop.
Nash remained smooth and powerful, over the final circuits, never seeming to let off the pace except to grab a "birthday" hand up from a fan - a cupcake with lighted candle - on her way to her second win of the series and the weekend.
"I just kind of pushed it all the way through the race," Nash said. "I had the advantage of coming into those technical sections first, so that was very good, but I had to push it, because when you have an Olympic medalist behind you you can't back off."
Nash took the win with a 24-second advantage over Gould. A thrilled Mani crossed the line another 25 seconds later, while Wilcoxson grabbed the fourth spot, coming in 1:20 after Nash. Miller came in for fifth one second later, nipping Anderson at the line.
It was a fast, fitting end to the 2012 series, and now riders will turn their attention to the reaming World Cup races, their national championships and then the world championships.
Gould said she plans to stay in the US through nationals and Worlds, while Nash will head back to Europe to race the Christmas series in Belgium and several World Cups before heading back to the US for the world championships in February. Mani said she also plans to travel back to Europe on Wednesday to race the World Cups and then the French national championships. She, too, hopes to return to the states for Worlds.
"I'm actually not on the team for Worlds yet," Mani said after the race. "I don't know yet, but we are bringing two girls, and I didn't race in Europe, so actually I don't know. I just have to be the best on the bike, and then they will have no choice. I really like the course, and I feel like I'm at home. I'm French, but I've spent more time in your country than in mine over the last two years. I actually feel really happy here, so I just want to come back. The American people are so amazing and so nice with me, so I really want to race there. It will be fun."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Cycling||0:46:19|
|2||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Cycling||0:00:24|
|3||Caroline Mani (Fra) Raleigh / Clement||0:00:49|
|4||Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:01:20|
|5||Amanda Miller (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:01:21|
|6||Elle Anderson (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:01:22|
|7||Julie Krasniak (Fra) Rapha-Focus||0:01:40|
|8||Mical Dyck (Can) Stan's NoTubes||0:01:42|
|9||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:01:51|
|10||Crystal Anthony (USA) CYCLOCROSSWORLD.COM||0:01:57|
|11||Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club||0:02:07|
|12||Amanda Carey (USA) Volkswagen Boise|
|13||Courtenay McFadden (USA) Peterson Racing p/b Spokesowomen||0:02:10|
|14||Wendy Simms (Can) KONA||0:02:15|
|15||Nicole Duke (USA) Raleigh / Clement||0:02:31|
|16||Serena Gordon (USA) Silverado p/b Sunnyside Sports||0:02:33|
|17||Alice Pennington (USA) Kona||0:03:18|
|18||Jessica Cutler (USA) Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue C||0:03:38|
|19||Jenni Gaertner (USA) Motofish Racing||0:03:51|
|20||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Van Dessel||0:04:03|
|21||Andrea Smith (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||0:04:11|
|22||Beth Ann Orton (USA) Team S&M||0:05:08|
|23||Jayne Mclaughlin (GBr) Zuster Cycling||0:05:39|
|24||Evelyn Dong (USA) White Pine Touring||0:05:41|
|25||Joele Guynup (USA) Condo Group||0:06:34|
|26||Natalie Koncz (USA) Zuster Cycling||0:06:58|
|-1 Lap||Katie J Melena (USA) Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobst|
|-1 Lap||Jana Repulski (USA) Broken Spoke Cycling|
|-1 Lap||Shannon Gibson (USA) Stan's NoTubes Elite Cyclocross|
|-1 Lap||Shantel Koenig (Can) redbike|
|-1 Lap||Alexandra Burton (USA) Upper Echelon Fitness|
|-2 Laps||Sara Fletcher (USA) West Coast Women's Cycling p/b|
|DNF||Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Berry Farms|
|DNS||Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus|
|DNS||Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) Luna Pro Team|
|DNS||Carmen McNellis Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNS||Ellen Sherrill (USA) Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster Cyclocross|
|DNS||Marsa Daniel (USA) Team Group Health|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||308||pts|
|2||Katherine Compton (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective||300|
|3||Julie Krasniak (Fra) Rapha-Focus||196|
|4||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||180|
|5||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||158|
|6||Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) Luna Pro Team||151|
|7||Caroline Mani (Fra) Raleigh Clement||142|
|8||Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club||137|
|9||Mical Dyck (Can) Stan's NoTubes||109|
|10||Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||88|
|11||Nicole Duke (USA) Raleigh Clement||71|
|12||Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Berry Farms||70|
|13||Gabriella Day (GBr)||64|
|14||Amanda Miller (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||62|
|15||Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona||60|
|16||Amanda Carey (USA) Volkswagen Boise Cycling||56|
|17||Carmen McNellis Small (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||55|
|18||Elle Anderson (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||46|
|19||Crystal Anthony (USA) CYCLOCROSSWORLD.COM||39|
|20||Courtenay Mcfadden (USA) Peterson Racing p/b Spokesowome||39|
|21||Andrea Smith (USA) LadiesFirst Racing||38|
|22||Gabriella Day (GBr) Rapha-Focus||35|
|23||Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob's Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles||27|
|24||Alice Pennington (USA) Kona||17|
|25||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Van Dessel||16|
|26||Rebecca Gross (USA) KCCX/Fuji||14|
|27||Wendy Simms (Can) KONA||12|
|28||Serena Gordon (USA)||12|
|29||Marne Smiley (USA) Bob's Red Mill Racing||9|
|30||Jennifer Gaertner (USA) Motofish Racing||8|
|31||Emily Batty (Can)||8|
|32||Judy Freeman (USA) Crank Bros. Race Club||8|
|33||Ellen Noble (USA) Trek Cyclocross Collective||8|
|34||Jessica Cutler (USA) Cyclocrossracing.com p/b Blue C||7|
|35||Maghalie Rochette (USA) Powerwatts-FTTIME||4|
|36||Abby Strigel (USA) Team Abyssa||4|
|37||Arley Kemmerer (USA) C3-Athletes Serving Athletes||3|
|38||Ashley James (USA) KCCX/Fuji p/b Challenge Tires||2|
|39||Linda Sone (USA) Crossniacs p/b Wesley||2|
|40||Lara Kroepsch (USA) BOO bicycles||1|
|41||Amber Markey (USA) My Wife, Inc||1|
|42||Sarah Huang (USA) Exergy TWENTY12||1|
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