In a tactical cyclocross race which saw the elite women take advantage of the wide, grassy course at the 2012 CrossVegas, Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank-Giant) bided her time in a lead pack of roughly nine riders. The Cinderella story of the race, however, was Lea Davison (Specialized). Davison took an inspiring flier, and for a moment looked to have the race in hand. It was not to be, however, as her catch with half a lap to go allowed van Paassen to make her move, launching a solo counter-attack that held to the finish.
A few bike lengths later, Lea Davison managed to dig deep and finish in second ahead of Alison Powers (Now And Novartis For MS) and Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus).
“For sure, it was pretty hard,” said van Paassen. “It was like a road race. I waited, waited, waited because it was so hard , but it (the course) looked easy. My legs were burning. It was unbelievable. There were so many attacks, and they were so hard. I was waiting, and I hoped someone would get [Lea Davison] back, and it worked. It’s beautiful, the crowds are wonderful. It’s almost like Belgium!”
Sanne van Paassen CrossVegas 2012 Video Interview:
“This is such a fun race!” said second place Lea Davison. “So many spectators. The energy is so high. I was planning on this being my only [cyclocross] race as it’s the end of the mountain bike season. And we had the Olympics and World Championships, but who knows now.”
“It was so surge-y, like a road race,” said third place, Alison Powers. “It was fast and then came back together again, and then slow and then everyone would jockey for position. There was no settling in. It was solid and steady. I wasn’t going to chase [the last lap attacks] down. I didn’t have what that was.”
The Season Begins
It was an exciting race under the Vegas lights, as the women set fire to the 2012 season in the 90 degree heat. With no racer clearly stronger than the rest, and pre-race favorite Sanne van Paassen playing a tactical race on the wide open terrain, the women fought their battles in a large pack, surging and attacking, though rarely distancing themselves from a strong group of riders. Georgia Gould (Luna), Teal Stetson Lee (Luna), Alison Powers , Amy Dombroski, Meridith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms), Lea Davison, Kelli Emmett (Giant), and Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Race Club) were all present.
Amy Dombroski, racing in her new Telenet-Fidea colors, looked fit and eager for the win. Throughout the race, Dombroski rode intelligently, sitting second or third wheel and minimizing her time at the front. However, a few strong efforts to reel riders in perhaps burned up too many matches, and when the final selection was made, the American didn’t have a response.
Taking the Luna torch from 2-time winner Katerina Nash was Georgia Gould, fresh off her Olympic bronze in mountain biking. Gould looked strong throughout, and at two to go dug deep in an attempt to ride everyone off her wheel in a bold display of power that lasted nearly a full lap.
But it was Lea Davison who finally managed to break the race open, attacking on the runup by hopping the barriers and gaining a significant gap. Immediately, she was out of the saddle, pushing hard and looking a possibility for the win.Van Paassen and Dombroski both gave chase, but with one to go, Davison still had an 11 second lead and was refusing to yield.
It took an impressive effort by Alison Powers to finally bring Davison back into the fold with a pull that saw Dombroski start to crack. The catch was all Sanne van Paassen needed, and with a brutal counter attack, she was gone.