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 (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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
|1||19||SHIELDS||Emily||University of North Carolina at||42:01:00|
|3||10||MALIK||Jennifer||Ohio State University||43:57:00||1:56|
|4||1||VANDERHOOP||Julie||Massachusetts Institute of Tech||44:41:00||2:40|
|7||20||OWENS||Meghan||University of Vermont||46:36:00||4:35|
|9||17||SHIELDS||Katherine||Wake Forest University||47:49:00||5:48|
|10||3||CHRISTOFALOS||Alex||Appalachian State University||48:26:00||6:25|
|12||15||WILLIAMS||Paige||Massachusetts College of Libera||48:56:00||6:55|
|13||23||GINSBACH||Kate||University of Notre Dame||50:58:00||8:57|
|14||16||DEHORNEY||Tiziana||University of New Mexico||51:06:00||9:05|
|15||18||LEATON||Laura||University of Virginia||40:21:00||@1Lap|
|18||9||WINTZ||Mary||Ohio State University||43:01:00||@1Lap|
|19||11||DREYER||Emily||Ohio State University||45:29:00||@1Lap|
|20||22||HO||Monte||US Military Academy||46:20:00||@1Lap|
|21||21||CYR||Valerie||University of Vermont||47:34:00||@1Lap|
|DNF||88||O'NEIL||Kathleen||Virginia Polytechnic University|
|DNS||5||HONSINGER||Clara||University of Portland|