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Sandpits are a cyclocross feature that require part power, part panache to excel at. Earlier this season at Jingle Cross, the famed Queen of the Sand Sanne Cant said they key to sand success is having the right feeling.

On Friday in the Masters 35-39 race, Stacey Richardson (Pedal Racing) of Colorado channeled Cant and found the right feeling in the Visit Carson sandpit.

Earlier in the race, Richardson and Alexandra Campbellforte broke from a group and traded blows at the front. In the third of four laps, Richardson was first to the sand and rode it will little problem. Behind her, Campbellforte struggled and had to dismount part way in. Her delay gave Richardson a gap the Coloradan she would not relinquish.

Stacey Richardson rode the sand and got the win on Friday. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Stacey Richardson rode the sand and got the win on Friday. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

“The sand and the hill were to my benefit,” Richardson said about her strengths on the course. “Those are some of the things I have been practicing this year and trying to get better at. Watching the pros and seeing what I can get better at.”

Richardson avoided any last lap calamities to take home her first national championship.

A Tough Early Climb

On a crisp, beautiful morning with nary hint of wind, the pace in the Women’s 35-39 race was fast from the opening whistle.

The field rips out onto the course. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

The field rips out onto the course. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Riders wasted little time forcing the establishment of a pecking order. Half a lap in, the four leaders were Richardson, Campbellforte, Amanda Schapp and Terra Kier (Rebel West CX).

A group of four quickly formed in the first lap. Masters Women 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

A group of four quickly formed in the first lap. Masters Women 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

While the racers early in the week featured some mud, the clear skies and warming temperatures have turned much of the course dry and dusty. The change has created a new set of traction issues on the course. One area where the changes are most evident is the technical climb in the back half of the lap.

Richardson led the way up the climb, and behind her, one of the riders lost traction and had to dismount and run. The hesitation turned the three other riders into chasers in an instant. The group brought Richardson back at the beginning of the second lap, but then half a lap later, Richardson and Campbellforte escaped off the front. The battle of four was down to two.

The big climb proved challenging during the first lap. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

The big climb proved challenging during the first lap. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

In the Pit

Earlier in the week, a solid riding line got packed into the wet sand, but as the week has progressed and it has dried out, the thick sand at the exit has become increasingly challenging to plow through. During the third lap, the thick sand played a key role in the race.

Richardson hit the pit first and powered through to the exit. Campbellforte was not as lucky. She struggled for traction and then had to dismount. The hesitation gave Richardson an eight-second lead. Campbellforte now had to work to get back to the front.

Whereas Richardson let her unexpected early lead come back, she was determined to make this one stick.

“I wanted to keep pushing myself,” she said about her second lead of the race. “I always tell myself, you know, everybody is hurting right now, so if I can just keep pushing myself a little bit harder and try to get that gap a little bit bigger, just keep it smooth.”

Richardson got her winning gap in the sand. Masters Women 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Richardson got her winning gap in the sand. Masters Women 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

She kept the lead at six seconds at the bell and then extended it to 15 seconds* through the first half of the course. (*actual timing with actual stopwatch).

The gap held. Richardson was the new Masters 35-39 National Champion.

Campbellforte held on for second and local hero Suzanne Snyder finished the race strong to take third.

The 35-39 women were willing to finish the race, no matter what it took. Masters Women 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

The 35-39 women were willing to finish the race, no matter what it took. Masters Women 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Women Masters 35-39 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals

PlaceBibLASTFirstTeamCity STTimeGap
1184RICHARDSONStaceypedal RACINGLakewood CO37:00
2177CAMPBELLFORTEAlexandraVKCXSperryville VA37:2525
3192SNYDERSuzanneNorthern California/Nevada CyclReno NV37:4343
4180BLATTRebeccaBicycle Racing Association of CLakewood CO38:291:29
5187SCHAAPAmandaJenison MI38:371:37
6175SCHAPERAmandaSanta Cruz Factory RacingSanta Cruz CA38:531:53
7176FOXLauraAnchorage AK39:132:13
8179KIERTerraRebel West CXSanta Monica CA39:322:32
9178STONEErinSan Francisco CA40:213:21
10181MILLERNeidiMatrix/RBMDallas TX41:104:10
11174WULFKUHLEKathleen717 Cycling clubLancaster PA41:344:34
12190VALLIANTSAUNDERSKarineLiquid VeloSeattle WA41:514:51
13186SUMMERSBrookeOakland CA42:175:17
14188ZUCKERMANWilhelminaTrabuco Canyon CA42:18s.t.
15182MCALLISTERLieselWeatherford TX42:305:30
16185WEIMARAshleeSpokane WA42:465:46
17171SJOLDianaShe Wolf Attack TeamUpland CA44:397:39
18191BYEAmandaNaked Women's RacingBoulder CO44:447:44
19189FLISAlexandraUtah Cycling AssociationPark City UT45:038:03
20183LOWBERSusannahShe Wolf Attack TeamLos Angeles CA45:208:20
21173EHRHEARTEliseFamily Cycling CenterSanta Cruz CA45:398:39
DNS172BIEHLEAudreyDirt BirdsPlymouth CA

For more from Reno, see our continuing coverage of the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals on our dedicated Nationals page.

Photos from the races and reports are available to license here, with more to be added throughout the next week.

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