by Pat Malach
BEND, OREGON – Katerina Nash powered away from the Elite Women’s field Saturday during Day 1 of the USGP Deschutes Brewery Cup in Bend, finishing solo and adding to her already significant series lead.
Nash (Luna) and Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) gained an early advantage on the first lap, while behind them, Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), Sue Butler (River City Bicycles-Ridley), Teal Stetson-Lee and Meredith Miller (both Cal Giant) and Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) contributed firepower to the chase.
A bobble by Nash with four to go gave Duke a slight advantage, but the series leader quickly remounted and closed the gap. It was probably the only time during the day that Nash showed any weakness, but it didn’t last long.
“I hit the nice powdery dust out there,” Nash said. “I think it looked worse than it actually was. Every time we crash and have to get back on the bike it takes a little bit out of you. But sometimes it just adds to the focus. I certainly slowed down through some of the corners, which is probably a pretty good thing in the long run.”
If Nash did indeed slow a bit, it wasn’t apparent. On the ensuing lap, she dropped Duke and began her march toward her fourth win of the series.
“I had to work on her a little bit,” Nash said. “And then I put in a little attack and pulled away.”
It would be the last time anyone else in the field would get close to the diminutive Czech. In the race behind, Stetson-Lee made contact with Duke and sat on with the Cannondale rider as her teammate Miller put in the hard effort to also join the first chase.
“Unfortunately, by the time I caught up to Nicole and Teal, Katerina was already gone,” Miller said of her slow start. “But luckily I was able to catch Nicole and Teal.”
Miller and Stetson-Lee benefited from more good luck when Duke crashed hard on the last lap and suffered a mechanical, forcing her to run in to the finish. Meanwhile, teammates Miller and Stetson-Lee battled one on one for the second podium spot, with Miller getting the advantage up the stairs near the paved finishing straight.
“I knew at that point that whoever came over the stairs first was going to be the one to get to the finish line first, because there just wasn’t that much room to pass after that,” Miller said. “I’ve probably sprinted on pavement a few more times than Teal has.”
Miller’s sprinting experience paid off with a comfortable win over Stetson-Lee, who earned her first-ever USGP podium finish. Stetson-Lee said her early season illness and the ensuing layoff, followed by some serious training, has her peaking at just the right time for some of the biggest races of the season.
“I had kind of a slow start to the season,” Stetson-Lee said. “And then I had an illness and had to take some time off. I’ve been in rebuild ever since then, and I think the combination of good training and good rest is really turning it around.”
Krasniak crossed the line next for fourth, followed by Butler and then Duke, whose face showed the pain of having to run most of the final loop.
Nash now goes into the final race of the series with an insurmountable lead, racking up 314 points so far. Meredith Miller is tied for second with Katie Compton (Rabobank), who is currently racing in Europe. Each has 190 points. Antonneau is next with 161 points, followed by Duke with 157.
Despite the sizable margin of her lead, Nash said she will be back out there Sunday gunning for her fifth win in the eight-race series.
“It’s what we come out here to do,” Nash said. “And when that works out it’s just great. You take it while it lasts.”
Results are below photos.
PHOTO GALLERY — Pat Malach/Oregon.CyclingAction.com
USGP Deschutes Breewery Cup, day 1
1 Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team 2 Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized 3 Teal Stetson-Lee (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized 4 Julie Krasniak (Fra) Rapha-Focus 5 Susan Butler (USA) River City Bicycles-Ridley 6 Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com 7 Nicole Duke (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com 8 Amanda Carey (USA) Kenda/Felt 9 Pepper Harlton (Can) Juventus Cycling Club 10 Andrea Smith (USA) Ladiesfirst Racing 11 Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob'S Red Mill/Seven Cycles 12 Alice Pennington (USA) Team S&M 13 Katherine Sherwin (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team 14 Kelsy Bingham (USA) Roosters/Bikers Edge 15 Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Exergy Twenty12 16 Sage Wilderman (USA) Unsponsored 17 Serena Bishop (USA) Silverado Jewelry Gallery P/B Sunnyside Sports 18 Heather Clark (USA) Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team 19 Courtenay Mcfadden (USA) Cycling Northwest 20 Sarah Maile (USA) Ventana Mountain Bikes 21 Devon Gorry (USA) Team Rambuski Law 22 Jessica Cutler (USA) Cucina Fresca 23 Kari Studley (USA) Team Redline 24 Beth Ann Orton (USA) Team S+M 25 Tina Brubaker (USA) Vanilla Bicycles/Speedvagen Racing 26 Rebecca Blatt (USA) Rebecca Blatt 27 Kristi Berg (USA) Cycle U-Popcap 28 Anna Dingman (USA) Cycleution 29 Melanie Lewis (USA) Cycle U-Popcap 30 Joele Guynup (USA) Condo Group/Shimano/Marin 31 Jenni Gaertner (USA) Raleigh America 32 Courtney Dimpel (USA) Team Rambuski Law 33 Shannon Gibson (USA) Stan'S Notubes Elite Cyclocross Team 34 Katrina Baumsteiger (USA) Team Rambuski Law 35 Marsa Daniel (USA) Team Group Health 36 Alexandra Burton (USA) Upper Echelon Fitness 37 Karen Oppenheimer (USA) Yard Sale Cyclocross 38 Patricia Dowd (USA) USA 39 Jadine Riley (GBr) GBR DNF Rebecca Gross (USA) Tough Girl DNF Marne Smiley (USA) Bob'S Red Mill Cyclocross