Pro Team Race Reports
GEORGIA BRINGS HOME BRONZE!
photo: Casey B Gibson
Essex County, London, England (August 11, 2012) LUNA Pro star Georgia Gould brought the bronze medal home for her other team, USA. Medal hopeful Catharine Pendrel faded a bit and settled for 9th place. Katerina Nash also was disappointed pulling across the finish line in 14th.
Frenchwoman Julie Bresset convincingly won the gold, and Sabine Spitz earned silver for Germany.
Massive crowds covered the hills on Hadleigh Farm in Essex, not far from London. The dry, gentrified course consisted of 6 laps, amounting to 18.2 miles total. 30 women from 23 countries pulled up to the start line, for their race of a lifetime.
Several athletes noted that they had never seen so many people attend a mountain bike race, and the powerful energy at the venue was overwhelming.
In the race, British racer Annie Last set an early pace in front of hometown fans, pulling along Bresset, Spitz, and Russian Irina Kalentieva. Both Georgia and Katerina had a tough time of it, getting stuck in traffic along the slower side of the group and falling to mid-pack before the first critical downhill funnel.
Catharine was running near the front leaders early on, as far as third place, working hard to close constantly opening gaps.
Katerina Nash, who excels on a more technical and natural course, was still not found gaining much time on the front group. She had fallen over 25 seconds back by the second lap.
On the other hand, Georgia managed to fight her way through the field to within ten seconds of leader Bresset, who was now pulling along Spitz. Georgia passed teammate Catharine around through the grass, the latter admitting her legs were just not there for her on this day.
Towards the end of the race, Canadian patriots searched for Catharine, who was struggling to maintain contact with the front group on each climb.
During the vicious battle between Georgia and Spitz, the German flew spectacularly over her handlebars on a narrow rocky descent, blocking Gould and therefore allowing Bresset to open a huge gap on her way to the gold.
Georgia said, “I kind of hesitated (when Spitz crashed). I didn’t want to have to jump off and run down it, but there wasn’t enough room to ride around her, and that was that little bit Julie needed to just punch it.”
In the final race for second, Georgia promptly attached her Orbea Alma 29-er (outfitted with Maxxis 29-er Aspen tires) onto Spitz’s wheel while looking for a passing opportunity. But one more successful attack from Spitz sealed Georgia’s place in history. Gould took the bronze to become the first American to medal in mountain biking since Susan DeMattei in 1996.
Afterward the tearful Coloradan said, “I can’t even describe it…I’m still a little bit in shock.”
“It’s hugely emotional,” Gould said. “You put so much work into it…It’s a race everyone is shooting for and everyone is peaking for. You just hope that the preparation that you’ve done is enough to give you what it takes on the day. I’m just glad I could not just have the opportunity to represent my country, but to bring home a medal, too.”
“I could see up ahead that there was some cat-and-mouse going on, they weren’t just drilling it, and thought maybe I had chance to make it up to the front group. Once I made it up there, I was actually feeling pretty comfortable.”
Georgia went on, “I have had some races recently where I was having a good race and on the last lap ended up not winning. I had that in my mind a little bit. I didn’t want to take any risks on the last lap. I still can’t believe nothing (bad) happened to me on the last lap.”
Both Katerina and Catharine were relatively upbeat during post race interviews, obviously upset about their day but hopeful for a good recovery so they can move on.
Earlier in the week, Catharine and Georgia were happy to sign new contracts with LUNA for four more years. Now all three LUNA cross-country racers will focus on the world championships on September 8th, in Saalfeden, Austria.
1 Julie Bresset 1:30:52
2 Sabine Spitz 1:31:54
3 Georgia Gould 1:32:00
9 Catharine Pendrel 3:36
14 Katerina Nash 5:30
video interview of Georgia: http://www.cyclingdirt.org/video/652914
Katerina Nash warms up
Catharine flowed over the rocks
Georgia celebrates with manager Waldek Stepniowski
Team mechanic Chris Mathis deserves this!
Georgia's officially famous
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