Fiuggi, Italy (January 15th, 2017)
Perfectly positioned for the upcoming UCI World Championships, Katerina Nash took second place at the Fiuggi World Cup, on an ice embedded course in Fiuggi, near Rome, Italy. Newly crowned Italian National champ Eva Lechner led out the field on much of the first 2.7 km lap, but fell back after some crashes to finish in fifth place.
29-year old Dutch champ Marianne Vos managed the mud the best, and solo'd to take the win. After Nash, World Cup leader Sophie de Boer followed behind for the third podium spot, securing the overall title. Anne Marie Vorst snuck in front of Eva later in the game to finish fourth.
Ultimately, the event was a world class slip-fest, rewarding the riders who crashed the least on the frozen steeps and off camber corners.
Here's how it unfolded for the Clif athletes:
Proudly wearing her Italian colors before local fans, Eva Lechner attacked at the start and successfully avoided traffic, but then crashed later in the first lap (2.7km) on the awkward icy slopes.
Katerina started more conservatively, but methodically took advantage of the steady wreckage by dismounting and running the most technical sections. This strategy worked well, putting her in the sights of leader Marianne Vos.
But by mid-way through the race, Vos had built a 19 second lead on Katerina. Eva fell to 4th place in the tight group of chasers, which included World Cup overall leader Sophie De Boeur. then Anne Marie Vorst. Ellen Noble was quietly hunting down Eva but was never able to get past.
At the finish, Katerina high-fived the crowds toward another podium appearance, and Eva rolled in at fifth, content with another consistent result.
Katerina told Cyclingnews after the race, "“I always try. I tried to be smooth. It’s so hard because you kind of want to put a lot of pressure on the pedals but you can’t. I kept reminding myself to slow down.”
Eva Lechner explained her preparation for this race, "I wanted to go to training a bit this season earlier than usual. But then the weather changes (affected my progress), I accommodated the bad weather. and I even enjoyed the snow a bit."
The town of Fiuggi is known primarily for the local mineral water source. The water is said to have inspired Michelangelo. Residents fill it off directly to the municipal wells, swear by its healing power. But the racers used that water more for showering than drinking.
Next up is the Cross World Cup finals in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, where Eva Lechner won in 2015, Then the UCI World Championships are a week later in Luxembourg.
1 Marianne Vos (Ned) 0:41:26
2 Katerina Nash (Cze) 0:00:40
3 Sophie De Boer (Ned) 0:00:59
4 Annemarie Worst (Ned) 0:01:00
5 Eva Lechner (Ita) 0:01:34