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NBX Grand Prix of Cross #1 - C2
Warwick, Rhode Island, USA, December 6, 2008
Race 1 - December 6: Elite women
Van Gilder outwits Elliot
By Dave McElwaine in Warwick, Rhode Island
Laura Van Gilder (C-3 Solay) used her years of racing experience on the road to win a hard fought battle with Natasha Elliot (EMD Sorono/Stevens). On a course perfectly suited to her considerable road skills, Van Gilder got the better of her breakaway companion with a powerful display near the finish.
Sally Annis (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental) continued her best season ever by soloing in for third, while Anna Milkowski (Vello Bella) seemed to struggle while running, but took fourth, and series leader Rebecca Wellons (Ridley) finished in fifth.
The course at Goddard State Park was very fast and dry this year, featuring some running on a beach, a rather long section of pavement and hard packed trails under tree cover. The 30 degree temperature and cloudy skies had some riders wishing they had worn extra clothing.
Amy Wallace (Richard Sachs/RGM) got the hole shot but then quickly suffered a derailleur problem followed by a poor bike exchange. A flat tyre later in the race ruined any chance she had at a top finish.
Within a half lap, Natasha Elliot and Laura Van Gilder opened a gap on the field that grew throughout the race. While they traded pulls, it appeared as though Elliot was determined to be on the front as much as possible.
Behind them the race for third was contested by Annis, Wellons, Milkowski, and Rothfuss. Within a couple of laps the whole chase group blew apart as Annis looked particularly fast on the pavement and managed to increase her lead and lock up third position.
With less than a half lap to go, Van Gilder went around Elliot to set herself up for the finish. "I took a couple turns at the front but Natasha would attack me so I decided I would save my moment til the end," said the woman better known as a fast finisher on the road.
She added that, "It was pretty tricky leading into the finish so with the downhill sprint I felt I needed to come out of that last corner first." The two sprinted to the line but Elliot had little chance at that point to win.
Series leader Rebecca Wellons was hoping for a good race but had a poor start and never really appeared to have the legs to bridge up to the leaders. While Annis narrowed Wellon's lead in the series, she would have to beat Wellons by a large margin on Sunday to win the series.
When asked what she planned for Sunday's race, Wellons said, "I think I need to get a better start tomorrow and some weather would be a lot of fun." A storm is moving into the Providence area that may dump an inch or two of snow on the course for Sunday's finale.
The NBX Verge series concludes tomorrow at Goddard State Park. It is expected that the race organisers will change the course overnight. With snow on the way, it could be an epic day of racing in New England.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Paul Weiss/www.paulweiss.biz
Images by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net
1 Laura Van Gilder (C3 Sollay) 37.46 2 Natasha Elliott (Emd Serono/Stevens) 3 Sally Annis (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental) 0.50 4 Anna Milkowski (Velo Bella-Kona) 1.11 5 Rebecca Wellons (Ridley Factory Team) 1.26 6 Cris Rothfuss (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental) 1.39 7 Crystal Anthony 2.04 8 Vicki Thomas (Ottawa Cross) 2.07 9 Amy Wallace (RGM Watches - Richard Sachs - Boathouse Inc) 2.19 10 Linnea Coons (International Bicycles/Global) 2.24 11 Andrea Smith (Minuteman Road Club) 2.54 12 Anna Mcloon (Harvard University Cycling Association) 3.30 13 Perri Mertens (Embrolation) 3.54 14 Callie Mcdowell (Boston University) 4.13 15 Rebecca Blatt (Team Kenda Tire) 5.20 16 Sarah Coney (Ride With Rendall) 5.45 17 Susan Maclean (Gear Works/Spin Arts Cycling Team) 6.25 One lap behind 18 Beth Mason (C3-Sollay.Com)