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by Pat Malach
BEND, OREGON – Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) capped a dominant 2011 USGP performance with her fifth win of the series Sunday, adding another jewel to the overall crown that she secured several races earlier. But the big move on the final day of the Deschutes Brewery Cup came from Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), who finished second on the day and jumped up several places into second overall.
The temperatures in Central Oregon’s high desert dipped a bit from the day before, but the skies remained dry over the former national championship course sandwiched between the Deschutes Brewery and the Old Mill shopping district.
After a disappointing last-lap crash that knocked her off the podium the day before, Duke stormed out of the gate Sunday with extra motivation, pocketing the cash for the Avid Shorty Ultimate Holeshot and lighting up the start.
Rapha-Focus rider Julie Krasniak picked up the torch next, taking the lead and driving the pace hard with Duke, Nash and Teal Stetson-Lee (Cal Giant) in tow, followed not far behind by Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Sue Butler (River City Bicycles-Ridley). Conspicuously missing from the action up front was Meredith Miller, who came into the day sitting second overall. Unfortunately Miller had punctured very early in the first lap and was forced to noodle her bike into the faraway pits. It effectively ended her race, although she pushed on to the finish 24th.
“I have to admit it was hard to make it all the way back to the pit and see riders already coming through the finish line pretty much and then be able to stay mentally tough and get a bike and keep going,” Miller said. “But I just kept pushing harder. I had no idea really where I was and what place I was in or what was going to happen with the overall. It was just a matter of making it to the finish and finishing off. I didn’t want to finish the series with a DNF, so that’s what it was about really.
Back at the front, Duke and Nash eventually separated from the lead group, pushing each over through the grass sections, over the rocky side of the course and then again through the woods. Nash stayed on the gas, dropping the Cannondale rider and then powering away to take another solo win.
While Nash went off on her own, Stetson-Lee moved up to battle Duke for third. But Duke wanted redemption for the day before and was determined not to repeat her closing-lap mistake. Although the pair once again started the last lap together, Duke felt she add an advantage this time and applied some pressure.
“The last lap I realized I had a little more in me than I had thought,” Duke said. “So I put the move on Teal and kind of just relaxed a little more in the corners so I didn’t make any mistakes.”
The combination of power and caution worked as Duke slowly pulled away from the Cal Giant rider and secured the second step of the day’s podium, while also leapfrogging Miller and Katie Compton (Rabobank) on her way to second overall.
Stetson-Lee held on to third for the second time in two days, saying later that her good friend Duke just plain old out-rode her over the final circuit.
“She’s a super good technical rider and rode some super smooth corners,” Stetson-Lee said. “I made just the smallest mistakes in my lines, and that was enough for her to get a gap and just keep opening it up. I am still very happy with the weekend. Absolutely.”
Krasniak’s early aggressiveness paid off with fourth place, while Antonneau rounded out the day’s top five.
Nash’s fifth win of the eighth-race series came with enough time for a lengthy victory salute, but afterward she said that despite appearances, winning a USGP race is never easy.
“I try to keep my serious game on until I cross the finish line,” Nash said. “You’re probably never going to see me walking across the finish line with my bike or anything cool like that. I just like to get across the finish line and then go and have something warm to drink.”
Nash will now take the rest of the year off from racing before returning to Europe in January for several World Cup races and then the World Championships, but she said her season priority has always been the USGP.
“Last year with the schedule, I missed a couple of the races,” she said. “So this year I came back and made USGP my priority. I wanted to be at all the races. I wanted to support the effort of those in the USGP and the great work those guys do. And I wanted to race every single one of them, which has been an awesome awesome year for me.”
Nash added that the USGP’s equal prize payouts for men and women was another big draw this year.
“The level of competition is great,” Nash said. “But what’s even better for us, the USGP riders, is the prize money; it’s the equal prize money we get here. The Europeans can’t believe it. They can’t believe we’re actually making the same money as the men. It’s such an awesome thing that those guys are doing. It’s helping the sporting world tremendously, and we as riders have to support that.”
PHOTO GALLERY — Pat Malach/Oregon.CyclingAction.com[Gallery not found]
USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup day 2
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||37:24|
|2||Nicole Duke (USA) Cannondale Pb Cyclocrossworld.Com||@ :09|
|3||Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized||@ :12|
|4||Julie Krasniak (Fra) Rapha-Focus||@ :35|
|5||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale Pb Cyclocrossworld.Com||@ :54|
|6||Susan Butler (USA) River City-Ridley||@ 1:03|
|7||Amanda Carey (USA) Kenda/Felt||@ 1:08|
|8||Andrea Smith (USA) Ladiesfirst Racing||@ 1:11|
|9||Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob'S Red Mill Pb Seven Cycles||@ 1:15|
|10||Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Exergy Twenty12||@ 1:30|
|11||Alice Pennington (USA) Team S&M||@ 1:39|
|12||Kelsy Bingham (USA) Roosters/Bikers Edge||@ 2:12|
|13||Katherine Sherwin (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team||@ 2:23|
|14||Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club|
|15||Devon Gorry (USA) Team Rambuski Law||@ 2:27|
|16||Sage Wilderman (USA) Unsponsored||@ 2:48|
|17||Kari Studley (USA) Team Redline||@ 3:13|
|18||Heather Clark (USA) Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing||@ 3:15|
|19||Jenni Gaertner (USA) Raleigh America|
|20||Rebecca Blatt (USA) Rebecca Blatt|
|21||Courtenay McFadden (USA) Cycling Northwest||@ 3:32|
|22||Beth Ann Orton (USA) Team S+M||@ 3:41|
|23||Kristi Berg (USA) Cycle U-Popcap||@ 3:56|
|24||Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Cycling||@ 4:06|
|25||Melanie Lewis (USA) Cycle U-Popcap||@ 4:13|
|26||Courtney Dimpel (USA) Team Rambuski Law||@ 4:27|
|27||Anna Dingman (USA) Cycleution||@ 4:55|
|28||Shannon Gibson (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team||@ 5:32|
|29||Katrina Baumsteiger (USA) Team Rambuski Law||@ 5:36|
|30||Serena Bishop (USA) Silverado Jewelry Gallery P/B Sunnyside||@ 6:03|
|31||Alexandra Burton (USA) Upper Echelon Fitness||@ 6:44|
|32||Patricia Dowd (USA)||@ 7:24|
|DNF||Sarah Maile (USA) Ventana Mountain Bikes|
|DNF||Joele Guynup (USA) Condo Group/Shimano/Marin|
|DNF||Jessica Cutler (USA) Cucina Fresca|
|DNS||Marne Smiley (USA) Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross|
|DNS||Karen Oppenheimer (USA) Yard Sale Cyclocross|
|DNS||Rebecca Gross (USA) Tough Girl|
2011 USGP Women’s Overall
|1||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||364|
|2||Nicole Duke (USA) Cannondale Pb Cyclocrossworld.Com||197|
|3||Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Cycling||190|
|4||Katherine Compton (USA) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||190|
|5||Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale Pb Cyclocrossworld.Com||187|
|6||Susan Butler (USA) Hudz Subaru||148|
|7||Caroline Mani (Fra) CC Etupes||138|
|8||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||132|
|9||Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized||123|
|10||Chloe Forsman (USA) Race Club 11||97|