Posted by Editoress on 03/22/14
McConnell and Pendrel win Fontana cross country race
Nash and Kabush lead USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series with one round remaining
Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) won round 3 of the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group in Fontana, California, on Saturday afternoon. With three rounds done and one to go, Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) and Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) lead the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series.
Canada's Catharine Pendrel kept her Luna Pro Team winning streak alive on Saturday afternoon in Fontana at the USA Cycling US Cup. Pendrel won the Elite Women's race ahead of her teammate Katerina Nash, who had won the previous two rounds, and another Canadian, Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing).
The favourites quickly established themselves as the race's leaders on Lap 1 of the five-lap race around the 5.6 km course. Nash set the early pace on the warm sunny day, along with Pendrel, Batty and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team). By the end of the first lap, the four were fairly clear of the rest of the field while Australian national champion Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing), in her first year at the Elite level, chased in fifth.
For the next few laps, the tenacious Gould would yo-yo on and off the back of the lead trio of Nash, Pendrel and Batty. It wasn't until the fourth lap, when Pendrel made her move, that Gould was dropped for good by the leaders.
Pendrel had been biding her time before launching her move on lap four. When she attacked, she quickly and decisively established a gap.
"I've been trying a different strategy every race," said Pendrel. "Last weekend, I tried to drill it the whole time, and today I sat in a bit more and made a late race move to get away. Luckily I felt good."
With no obligation to chase her teammate, Nash sat on and let Batty do all the work to try to close the gap.
Executing perfect tactics, the Luna ladies headed into the final lap with Pendrel comfortably in front. Then Nash took her turn and made her move on Batty. Riding solo for the duration ahead of Batty, Nash did not catch Pendrel.
Pendrel rolled in for the win with plenty of time to celebrate. Nash claimed second ahead of Batty, who finished in the the final podium spot.
"It's a super strong front end of the field," said Pendrel. "Everyone has their moments and everyone gave their best. It's been great to get Luna up in front at these races. Thanks to Sho-Air for making these [races] happen and thanks to the fans for cheering us on."
With its wide open, mostly treeless hillsides, the Fontana course provided good viewing of large portions of the course, making it especially spectator-friendly.
On the final few laps, Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com), an up and coming rider and also a podium finisher last week in Bonelli Park, moved her way up and into fifth. Impressively on the last lap, she bridged to fellow American Gould, who was then in fourth place; however, the experienced Gould proved stronger in the end and finished fourth ahead of Dong in fifth.
In the Elite Men's race later in the afternoon, Australian national champion Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) won a three-up final sprint ahead of Manuel Fumic of Germany and Marco Fontana of Italy (both Cannondale Factory Racing). Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Factory) was the top Canadian finisher in eighth, with Series leader Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) ninth. Kabush retains his overall lead.
Emil Lindgren (Giant Pro XC), Fontana and Fumic set the pace on the first two laps of the six-lap race as they strung out the field and established a group of favorites that included McConnell, US cross-country national champion Stephen Ettinger (BMC), Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Trek Factory Racing). US short track national champion Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) was among the top riders leading the chase.
Mantecon made a move near the end of lap three that only Fontana could follow at first. They were chased by Lindgren and Ettinger with Wells, Fumic and McConnell not far behind.
Going into the second half of the race, all the top riders came back together for a seven-man lead group including Mantecon, Fontana, Lindgren, Ettinger, Wells, McConnell and Fumic. It looked like the winner would come from this group.
Mantecon attacked again on lap four and Fontana went with him. Ettinger seemed to be riding well, too, but suddenly disappeared from the leaders on the downhill.
"We were off the front - Fontana, Gutierrez and me - at the top of the descent on the fourth lap when I blew a valve stem off my wheel. I didn't have anyone in the back tech zone since I'm here by myself. It was a tough call, but I had to walk it in." Ettinger abandoned the race.
Wells drove the chase to bring Mantecon and Fontana back while Lindgren seemed to hang on for dear life at times. McConnell rode steady and sat in.
On the penultimate lap, it was Fontana's turn to surge, and he took Mantecon along with him for a bit of a gap. Wells chased in third ahead of McConnell, Fumic and Lindgren.
Unfortunately for Mantecon, he sprinted with one lap to go, thinking it was the end of the race, and then upon realizing his mistake, he had no choice but suffer through the last lap.
"Today I felt very good. The race was like a little World Cup. I tried to save my energy for the last lap, but I made a big mistake and with two to go, I thought it was the final lap and I sprinted," said Mantecon. "Then I heard the bell, so in the last lap, I was in crisis. But I'm excited to be here with my new team and new teammate [eventual winner McConnell]."
Going into the final lap, Fontana led with a slight advantage. McConnell moved up a few spots to head the chase on the climb, just ahead of Fumic. Fontana started to look visibly tired near the top of the climb although it had at first seemed like he might hold off the chasers, but on an exciting final descent, McConnell and Fumic bridged up to him.
McConnell smartly took over the lead heading toward the last part of the lap, when passing was difficult, and he led out the sprint, holding off Fumic and a tired Fontana. It would not be Fontana's day to win in Fontana.
Wells came across the line as the top American in fourth place, a performance that was good enough to bump him up one place in the series standings, into second overall.
Lindgren completed the podium for fifth while Mantecon limped home for sixth.
Second-year elite rider Anton Cooper (Cannondale Factory Racing), a former Junior world champion, finished an impressive seventh.
Defending USA Cycling US Cup series leader Geoff Kabush could not hold the pace of the top riders on the day, but as other favourites dropped out or fell further back, he rode consistently enough to finish ninth and keep his lead with 94 points to Wells' 79 points.
Round 1 winner Max Plaxton (Cannondale Factory Racing) did not finish the race.
After round three of four in the USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series, Kabush leads the series ahead of Wells and Plaxton, while Nash continues to lead the series ahead of Pendrel and Batty.
The USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series will continue with the final round, a UCI Category 1 race in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Saturday, June 28th.
USA Cycling US Cup Series Standings after three rounds
1 Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team, 107 points
2 Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team, 94 points
3 Emily Batty (Can) Trek Factory Racing, 82 points
4 Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team, 70 points
5 Evelyn Dong (USA) Backcountry.com, 61 points
1 Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing, 94 points
2 Todd Wells (USA) Specialized Racing, 79 points
3 Max Plaxton (Can) Cannondale Factory Racing, 69 points
4 Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Esp) Trek Factory Racing, 57 points
5 Marco Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing, 53 points
6 Manuel Aurelio Fumic (Ger) Cannondale Factory Racing, 53 points
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