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Cycle-Smart International 1 - C2

Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, November 1, 2008

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Race 2 - November 1: Elite Women

Elliott soloes with a slim margin

By Kirsten Robbins in Northampton, Massachusetts

Elliot turns towards the downhill
Photo ©: Paul Weiss
(Click for larger image)

Natasha Elliott’s clean exit out of the final barriers gave her the edge needed to win the Cycle-Smart Invitational ahead of Laura van Gilder (C3-Sollay.com) and Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella-Kona).

"I had a very small gap going into the barriers so I was able to slow down just enough to take them properly," said the Stevens rider after her win. "I wanted to get over them cleanly rather than quickly. Last weekend in Kentucky, we were all together and so this weekend I knew I had to be ahead in the last part."

The first snowfall of the season melted just in time to start of the 18th annual Cycle Smart Invitational, the oldest existing UCI cyclo-cross race on American soil. Some 30 women lined up ready to capture the UCI points available on the finish line.

Winfield took the hole shot into the first lap quickly followed by Van Gilder and Elliott along with Maureen Bruno-Roy (Seven Cycles) and Sally Annis (NEBC Cycle).

Winfield assumed the front position, a spot typically uninterrupted when she is leading. However, Elliott contested the leading role on several occasions through sections that suited her power and skills. The three-kilometre circuit started on the upper deck, a highly technical section laden with roots, dirt tracks and barriers. After a long and paved start/finish section the course wound downhill through grass and trails, to the lower deck. The lower deck presented the riders with a grassy field, a sand pit and a second set of barriers. Two steep dirt run-ups and one off-camber descent provided the passageway between the two sections.

"I always tried to go through the sand first because the first few times I lost some time," said Elliott. "When I realized how to take the sand properly, I was first in and out and also on the steep run up. I was able to get gaps there and make them chase me."

The lead group dwindled to three when several crashes and mechanicals set back Annis and Bruno Roy with three laps to go. The race continued at the front as Elliott continuously gained small amounts of time over the run up forcing Van Gilder and Winfield to close the gaps. "We were really duking it out in the end and Natasha certainly rode a strong race, but I don’t give up; Deidre doesn’t give up and neither does Bruno Roy, who was breathing down our necks."

On the last lap, Van Gilder assumed second position behind Elliott, no doubt preparing for a sprint finish. The three leaders charged at the final barriers but Elliott was the only rider to make a clean exit gaining the slim gap needed for victory. "I had a bobble on the hill and a bobble on the barriers but when you really want to win the race sometimes you go a little too hard and that’s where the race counts," said Van Gilder in her debut ‘cross season. "I’m learning every step of the way. On the road, if you make a small mistake you can make up for it but in ‘cross sometimes you can’t make up for them."

The Cycle-Smart Invitational will continue with round two on Sunday November 2 with some slight course variations.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Paul Weiss/www.paulweiss.biz


1 Natasha Elliott (EMD Serono/Stevens)                         36.46
2 Laura Van Gilder (C3 Sollay)                                  0.04
3 Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella - Kona)                           0.10
4 Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles)                0.45
5 Rebecca Wellons (Ridley Factory Team)                         0.55
6 Sally Annis (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental)               1.16
7 Josie Jacques-Maynes (Specialized/KMC pb Cal Giant)           1.28
8 Anna Milkowski (Velo Bella-Kona)                              1.42
9 Cris Rothfuss (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire Dental)             1.57
10 Linnea Koons (International Bicycle/Global)                  2.20
11 Andrea Smith (Minuteman Road Club)                           2.29
12 Karen Potter (Zanconato)                                     2.47
13 Mackenzie Dickey (Colavita/Sutter Home/ PB Cooking Light)    3.02
14 Vicki Thomas (Ottawa Cross)                                  3.04
15 Perri Mertens (Embrocation Racing/Cambridge Bicycle)         3.12
17 Crystal Anthony                                              3.31
18 Marci Titus Hall (DeSalvo Custom Cycles)                     4.10
19 Hannah Kirshner (NBX/Narragansett Beer cyclocross team)      4.30
20 Michelle Kersbergen (Joe's Garage)                           4.35
21 Lauri Webber (Secret Henry's Team)                           4.43
22 Rebecca Blatt (Team Kenda Tire)                              5.09
23 Callie Mcdowell (Boston University / Scantily Plaid)         5.12
24 Kathryne Carr (Joe's Garage)                                 6.26
25 Alexandra Jospe (International Bicycle/Global)               6.27
One lap behind
26 Kerry Litka (Terry Precision)