Pro Team Race Reports
LUNA Pros sweep Windham World Cup: Take overall title!
CATHARINE PENDREL WINS WORLD CUP EVENT AND TITLE!
Windham, NY (June 30, 2012) Winning her third world cup this season and sewing up the UCI overall world cup title, Catharine “Kika” Pendrel seized another victory from the desperate grasp of teammate Georgia Gould. Katerina Nash contested a sprint with Catharine at the finish line, moments after both LUNA riders dutifully passed Georgia, running beside her devastating, last-lap flat tire.
Catharine earned the LUNA Pro Team its third UCI cross country World Cup individual overall title in the program’s amazing 11-year history.
Located in the Catskill Mountains in New York State, USA, Windham was a superb venue for the sixth cross-country UCI Mountain Bike World Cup of 2012. Hurricane Irene destroyed the small town and course last year, so the trails were completely rebuilt to most competitors’ liking.
The race started with a short tarmac section, which lead to a long, exposed climb. There the riders reached a feed tech zone at top, a rock garden, and then a fast (non-technical) descent.
Riding in spectacular form, Gould was the dominant rider all day, initially attacking Helen Premont up the first lap climb on her Orbea 29-er.
Katerina Nash also has been very consistent and was quickly up in third place with Gun Rita Dahle and Katrin Leumann. Catharine, one of the few riders chose to ride a full suspension (Orbea) for the bumpy course, was a bit behind diligently working her way through the field.
The main challenges of the day included brutally hot temps, and dark tree sections that were tricky for constantly adjusting eyes.
Evidently, Georgia’s eyes were adjusting just fine. The American continued to build up a big advantage, attacking the course as well as a water bottle, avoiding the cramps that crushed her world cup dreams in Mt. St Anne last week.
Catharine and Katerina worked well together by fourth of five laps. Pendrel would climb slightly faster, but Nash would close on the downhills.
At this point, the LUNA Pros had controlled most of the race, now that powerhouses Gunn Rita Dahle and Marie-Helen Premont were relatively far behind. US Olympian Lea Davison also rode strong, hammering along just behind the leaders.
Gould’s lead seemed insurmountable.
But in the end, fans gasped as Georgia appeared from the trees with a rear-tire puncture on the last key downhill. A quick CO2-cartridge fill-up got her close to the finish line, but not quite… so she had to dismount and run up the last tiny riser just meters before the tape.
It was just then that Catharine and Katerina caught up, and reluctantly circled around their disabled teammate for the dramatic sprint finish.
Pendrel became the world cup champion.
The win for Catharine obviously came with mixed emotion. The Canadian admitted, “Georgia really deserved this win… But I couldn’t have won the title without the support of our staff, sponsors, and the owners’ commitment to our team. They keep it fun and in the family.”
As with every important race, equipment choice was a factor. Catharine ran a full suspension Orbea with Maxxis Ikon with EXO protection casing, and Katerina chose even heavier (and therefore safer) Maxxis Crossmark UST for her hard tail Orbea Alma. Georgia rode an Orbea 29-er with Maxxis Aspen 29er tubeless ready-bead plus EXO protection cased tires.
Catharine Pendrel 1st 1:37:53
Katerina Nash 2nd 00:01
Georgia Gould 3rd 00:10
Marie-Helen Premont 4th 01:03
Lea Davison 5th 01:50
Here is the link to excellent video coverage: http://www.redbull.com/en/bike/RedBullSpecialSeries/1331574850558
Next up for the Georgia and Teal Stetson Lee is the US National Champs this weekend in Sun Valley, ID. Katerina and Catharine will take a bit of time off!
Thank you Red bull and Shimano for the excellent footage: http://live.redbull.tv/events/63/uci-us-xco-women/
Katerina’s thoughts from the race:
“It was great to head to a familiar place for next round of world cup . We have raced at Windham 5 times now (2 for US cups and 3 world cups). I will be honest to say that I like the area and get excited about coming back, but my past here has been tough. I have suffered on this mountain a lot and never had the good ride I hoped for. Heat and long climbs were my enemies and every time I started to pre-ride this week my bad past experiences were with me. I was mentally prepared to suffer this time around, but I was also prepared to have a great ride here and that is what I got on hot Saturday. Good start, good wheels to follow, watching Georgia get away from the rest of the pack, sticking to Catharine's wheel for quite some time. Fighting for second while hanging out in third. Things were going well for me. Catharine showed me why she is the current world champ and got away on the last climb. I showed myself that going downhill is much more fun than up (I always knew that thought) and cough back to her on the last downhill. I was racing for second, but was most likely getting third. Until we came across Georgia at the very bottom of the course. There is only one short hill and the finnish line but Georgia had to get off her bike after getting a flat tire someplace along the way. She had to run to very disappointing 3rd place finish while Catharine and myself cost by her with our tires full of air. Georgia deserved to win. There is no question about it. She had an incredible ride and was the strongest women out there that day. Unfortunately, deserving something in sports doesn't work. I think sport is the ultimate reality show. It's dramatic, exciting, never decided until the end and that is why we have so many spectators that watch sport events all around the world. People never get tired of watching sports because of the unknown and unpredictable exciting show that athlete present to them. That is why I wouldn't stop and let Georgia win. I owe the drama and excitement to the people that follow our sport. This is a real reality show and not the TV directed one.
I know Georgia will use this experience to be even stronger next time. In fact I'm little intimidated to race against her the next time. It was pretty unique experience to share world cup podium with both my teammates and I'm excited to be part of this incredible group called LUNA.”
Excerpts from Catharine:
It was a good race. I had a crappy start again despite my best efforts and was playing catch up, trying to motivate myself to reach the front. By lap 2 I had caught the chase group and only Katerina could go with me into lap 3, but Gunn Rita and Marie-Helene were always close behind. After leading Katerina for 2 laps I started to pull away only to lose the precious seconds gained to a lapped rider on the final descent lap 4. Again I worked all lap to build a couple second buffer for the final descent. Georgia had been increasing her 20-second gap on lap 1 and was now up to 43 seconds on the final lap. Coming down the last descent I was smiling. It was going to be Luna 1,2,3 and Georgia had ridden the perfect race for the win and I had fought a hard race for 2nd if I could just hold it together till the finish.
As I came out of the final woods with only grassy corners to the finish, my heart sunk as I saw Georgia riding a flat tire in front of me. That was the last thing I wanted to see. It felt as crappy as leading a world cup and seeing no one feels amazing.
For the final climb she had to get off and run and I was left paralyzed with indecision. I actually pleaded with her to be able to do something, to somehow be able to jump back on her bike and kick my but to the finish, sitting up not wanting to take her win, but not knowing whether to stop. I looked back to Katerina to see what to do, but she was out of the saddle attacking the climb eyes on the finish. Indecision vanished and fight or flight kicked in and it was a wicked sprint to the line. That was my race, the sprint to the finish with Katerina that I had just spent the last 1h37 engaged in, but it should have been a sprint for 2nd with Georgia clearly having the better ride that day, just not the luck.
It was heart wrenching and easy to berate myself for doing the wrong thing. Georgia was crushed and I had won, but what had I really gained and did that matter? But who is prepared for that kind of situation where you have to make a split second decision to stop racing for a World Cup podium after being heavily invested in racing the last 1.5hrs, the last year, the last 6 years? When how you would race if it weren’t your teammate that flatted, but rather someone from another country or trade team would be a no brainer for both you and those watching no matter how much it sucked for the rider of the day?
On Luna we have always been proud of what we do as a team, but we have also faced each other as our stiffest competition domestically and internationally for years. The idea of giving up a win or being handed a win does not sit well with any of us. We are good because we are all strong, competitive women that want to earn our results and aren’t afraid to fight for them. The only possible exception is winning your first world cup at home and being caught by two teammates in the last seconds of racing … but I guess this scenario never came up in conversation.
On retrospect I would have loved to jump off my bike and have Katerina follow my lead and challenge the three to an even fielded running race. This would have showed the unity and competitiveness of our team and given Georgia a fair chance at maintaining the lead she had won, given Katerina a chance to score her first World Cup win, all with out us having to sit up and neutralize the race, all getting to feel we had the chance to give everything. But you only think of this afterwards while you punish yourself for being a competitor above a teammate.
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