VERONA, WISCONSIN – As the ice began to thaw and turn parts of the course to slush, the Masters women 45-49 and 50-54 took to the field to contest for the national championship jersey. In the 45-49 category, Shannon Gibson (Stan’s NoTubes) established an early lead and held off a late surge by Antonia Leal (Planet Bike) to take the win. In the 50-54 category, 2012 Masters World Champion Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law) rode a similar race, establishing her lead early and then keeping Kris Walker (The Contender Club) at bay to secure her win.
In the 45-49 race, Gibson took the holeshot on the long straight, but when Antonia Leal contested the line as the course transitioned to snow-covered dirt the two rubbed shoulders and Leal lost traction, riding into the tape and being forced to dismount. Leal spent the rest of the lap getting back up to lead chasers Stacey Barbossa (Colavita Racing Inc.) and Jeanne Fleck, but by then Gibson was on her own. Though Leal was able to move past the two chasers, she was never quite able to bridge up to the leader, and Gibson crossed the line, hands raised high. Leal came in for second, with Stacey Barbossa snagging third, just ahead of the 50-54 winner.
In the 50-54 race, Lori Cooke took an early lead but a tangle with some course tape set her back, while Karen Brems seized the opportunity to open up a gap. “I don’t know what pressure I was running,” Brems admitted to Cyclocross Magazine. “I just put in what felt right.” She elected to run a Dugast on the back and a Challenge Fango on the front, and despite her California roots, she clearly had handling in icy and snowy conditions dialed. For a while during the race, it seemed like Kris Walker (The Contender Club) was going to shut down the gap to the World Champion, but Brems was able to keep pulling away from the rest of the field and took the win unopposed.
Stay tuned for interviews, photos and full results.