LAS VEGAS – Once the sun set over Las Vegas, the World Cup racing began for the first time in the United States, with women from 15 different countries represented at the start line. The wind picked up as wicked as ever, cooling off the course for some Fall conditions in Nevada.
In the first lap, Sanne van Paassen of the Netherlands and Gabby Durrin of the United Kingdom had phenomenal starts, leading the pack until they both gave way to Eva Lechner of Italy, who proved in the World Cup in Hoogerheide last year that she could attack early and carry a furious pace until the end.
Unlike last year, where many of the top riders formed a large group within the first lap, in this year’s World Cup, a small group of five riders were able to break off early, which included Van Paassen, Lechner, Catharine Pendrel of Canada, Katerina Nash of the Czech Republic, and Sanne Cant of Belgium.
A large group of Americans, along with other big international riders, soon formed a chase group only seconds behind. Katie Compton, Meredith Miller, Crystal Anthony, Kaitlin Antonneau, Georgia Gould and Amanda Miller were some of the big domestic names who had a mind to reattach themselves to the front before the leaders pulled away.
Meanwhile, the lead group was able to shed Van Paassen and whittle themselves down to four riders, with Nash and Pendrel riding in the form they showed the year before as both of them had been in the lead group of four in 2014. The Canadian seemed to take the major pulls at the top of the course, while Lechner broke to the front down below in the bowl. Gould and Compton both were able to reconnect with the lead group momentarily, but only Gould was able to make her efforts stick.
However, no rider was equipped to handle the attack that Nash was preparing with two laps to go. On the sweeping climbs near the back, which were more serpentine than in the course designs for years past, Nash vaulted herself forward. Cant moved forward to lead the chasing group, but by the time she tried to react, Nash was already nine seconds ahead of the rest of the pack.
“At first I really didn’t want to keep punching it,” Nash told Cyclocross Magazine after the race, “but someone said that I had a gap and so I decided to go for it.”
Lechner recounted the attack: “Yeah, we were looking at each other, and nobody was going. And so then I tried to attack, and luckily the others were looking at each other and I was able to go.”
Nash had brought on a chain reaction of attacks and counter-attacks throughout the former lead group, and the Italian was the second to benefit from an early gamble. “I am pretty happy with the race today,” Lechner continued, “especially because I just came over from Europe yesterday. I didn’t know how it would go, but I had a good start today and I am really happy.”
Nash and Lechner were able to hold their sizable gaps over the chasers until the end, and only the battle for third was as filled with high-tense drama as expected at CrossVegas. The two Luna riders, Gould and Pendrel were leading Cant around the last lap, but in the end, the Belgian was able to get the best of the group, outkicking her rivals for the final place at the podium.
“This course is really heavy,” Cant said of CrossVegas. “This was my first race, so it was difficult but I am happy I was here… it looks hard, but you don’t roll so fast [on it]. I tried my best, the other two were stronger, so I’m happy with third place.” As for enjoying any time in America, the Belgian reported that she wants to go shopping and enjoy Las Vegas on Thursday.
And as for Nash? “I think I’m going down in the history books,” she laughed as the first winner of a World Cup hosted outside Europe. We asked her if she would be raising the expectation level of her season after this result, to which she replied, “No, I can quit now, I’ve done enough!”
Notes: The United States was granted 17 spots for the women’s race, but only started 16. It appears Elizabeth White may not have started. Amanda Naumann was the first alternate, but did not hear of an opening.
Stay tuned for a full Lasala Images photo gallery. Don’t miss our 2015 CrossVegas men’s report, won by youngster Wout van Aert.
2015 CrossVegas World Cup results - Elite Women
|6||Sanne VAN PAASSEN||NED||27||50:07:00||100|
|12||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||35||50:48:00||56|
|22||Aida NUNO PALACIO||ESP||32||52:20:00||38|
|25||Sophie DE BOER||NED||25||52:39:00||35|
|45||Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURG||DEN||27||15|