The battle for the holeshot. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

The battle for the holeshot. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Women’s championship racing at the 2017 U.S. Cyclocross Nationals kicked off on Wednesday afternoon with the Women’s Collegiate Club race. With the sun peeking through the clouds, some of the mud started to dry up, but the women still faced a tough cyclocross test on the Hartford course. Emily Shields (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) withstood a fast start by Lily Williams (Northwestern University) and eventually took over the race to take home the National Champion’s jersey.

Katherine Shields grabbed the holeshot and relinquished the lead to her sister. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Katherine Shields grabbed the holeshot and relinquished the lead to her sister. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Katherine Shields (Emily’s sister) grabbed the holeshot, but Lily Williams was also a fast starter. Williams led the charge up the embankment. Shields and several others were able to keep with her fast pace, and a lead five of Heidi Franz (Seattle University), Julie Vanderhoop (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Jennifer Malik (Ohio State University), Williams, and Shields marched in line through the muddy woods.

Northwestern's Lily Wiliams powered her way through the mud, into the lead, suffered a mechanical and finished on a pit bike to earn second. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Northwestern’s Lily Wiliams powered her way through the mud, into the lead, suffered a mechanical and finished on a pit bike to earn second. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Williams took early control of the race in the second half of the course that is riddled with off-cambers and sections rendered deceptively tough by the mud. When she pulled through the start/finish straight after the first lap she held a strong 20 second lead over a chase group of three.

During the second lap, Williams learned the importance of frequent bike changes during gnarly conditions, “A bunch of gunk got stuck and I dropped my chain. And then I picked it up and was just running. I tried to get back on and it still wasn’t on. So I had a couple of issues.”

Emily Shields made a splash in winning the 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Masters Collegiate Club Women. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Emily Shields made a splash in winning the 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Masters Collegiate Club Women. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

After Williams’ mechanical, Shields jumped on the opportunity to take control of the race. She took over first place and opened up a 20-second lead by the end of the second lap. Shields would continue to ride strong at the front and took a 45 second lead into the last trip up the embankment before winning the gold medal by 1:06.

Emily Shields of UNC Greensboro finds sloppy conditions to her liking on her way to winning the 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Emily Shields of UNC Greensboro finds sloppy conditions to her liking on her way to winning the 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

After the race, Shields talked about racing at the front in such wicked conditions: “I just tried to stay calm and not make any mistakes. Run when I needed to, and go hard when I could.”

After Williams’ mechanical she managed to recover and enter a tough battle with Jennifer Malik for third. With two to go the two Big Ten riders headed out onto the course together. Williams had enough gas left in the tank to open up a gap and did not suffer any gunkchanicals during the bell lap en route to the silver medal. Malik took third, Julie Vanderhoop engineered a fourth place finish, and Heidi Franz finished fifth.

Julie Vanderhoop leads the chase of the top three and would finish fourth. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Julie Vanderhoop leads the chase of the top three and would finish fourth. 2017 Cyclocross National Championships, Collegiate Club Women. © D. Mable / Cyclocross Magazine

Shields will take the rest of the week to rest, shower, and get ready for the Women’s Elite race on Sunday. Third-place finisher Malik will also be joining her at the start line with Katie Compton and company.

 

2017 CX National Championships Hartford Day 2 Results Collegiate Women Club

PlaceBibLastFirstTeamTimeGap
119SHIELDSEmilyUniversity of North Carolina at42:01:00
214WILLIAMSLilyNorthwestern University43:07:001:06
310MALIKJenniferOhio State University43:57:001:56
41VANDERHOOPJulieMassachusetts Institute of Tech44:41:002:40
552FRANZHeidiSeattle University45:02:003:01
64MORSHEADDanielleBrown University45:48:003:47
720OWENSMeghanUniversity of Vermont46:36:004:35
812LUPIENLeslieDartmouth College47:01:005:00
917SHIELDSKatherineWake Forest University47:49:005:48
103CHRISTOFALOSAlexAppalachian State University48:26:006:25
1124RUSSENBERGERSophieBard College48:45:006:44
1215WILLIAMSPaigeMassachusetts College of Libera48:56:006:55
1323GINSBACHKateUniversity of Notre Dame50:58:008:57
1416DEHORNEYTizianaUniversity of New Mexico51:06:009:05
1518LEATONLauraUniversity of Virginia40:21:00@1Lap
16138MILLSTEINJoannaDartmouth College41:47:00@1Lap
176FERROShaneColumbia University-NYC42:47:00@1Lap
189WINTZMaryOhio State University43:01:00@1Lap
1911DREYEREmilyOhio State University45:29:00@1Lap
2022HOMonteUS Military Academy46:20:00@1Lap
2121CYRValerieUniversity of Vermont47:34:00@1Lap
2227BANPamelaHarvard University52:49:00@1Lap
DNF88O'NEILKathleenVirginia Polytechnic University
DNF7CLARKDanielleFurman University
DNS5HONSINGERClaraUniversity of Portland