Hendersonville, North Carolina was again the location for day 2 of the UCI Grand Prix of cyclocross. Sunday’s course was altered slightly from yesterday – a few more 180 degree turns were thrown into the mix and thankfully the crowd favorite, “The Wall” – a steep section of only 25 yards, was still included.
Saturday’s women’s race showed who the contenders were. Yesterday’s winner Ashley James (Team Kenda) was once again in the starting grid. Deidre Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Atletes), with her freshly re-glued front tire was also on the line. Two other riders that showed their strength the previous day – Carolyn Popovic (PA Valley) and Nicole Thiemann (Team CF), were hoping to move up a couple of podium positions from Saturday.
These four ladies pulled away and put an insurmountable gap between themselves and the fragmented groups. With three laps to go Winfield hit her front wheel on the run-up and fumbled. Sensing that this was the moment to gap out her competitors James attacked. Winfield and Popovic were able to drag themselves back up to the U-23 national champion. Thiemann was unable to make the junction and was left behind.
The group continued to ride this time with Winfield pushing the pace. The speed was fast enough to prevent anyone from the trio going solo but not enough to drop anyone.
Coming out of the forest for the last time, Winfield was in the drops with Popovic and James glued to her rear wheel. Up “The Wall” they were bunched up and trying to secure their favored spot for what was looking to be a sprint finish. After “The Wall” the riders faced a 180 degree turn and a final straight 300 meters to the line. Popovic dove hard into the last turn and clipped Winfield, washing out. Winfield was at the front leading out the sprint for the line and James just behind. With just meters to the line James pulled along side Winfield and threw her bike across the line beating the C3 Athletes Serving Athletes rider across the line.
“I sprinted at the end and I wasn’t sure I caught her,” said James after the race.
James said her sprint victory didn’t come easy.
“I was on the outside and I un-clipped out and was over-geared – a dumb mistake.”
“I was excited to pull it off,” continued James.
It was all the usual suspects back for day 2 of the Hendersonville ‘cross race. And just like Saturday the field was strung out with a lead group of 10 setting the pace. Yesterday’s winner Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) described the course as fast and punchy. “There’s a lot of descents and with every descent you have a hill.”
Throughout the race no one rider took control of the field. Knapp, Frattini and Matter all took a turn at the front. The only serious attack out of the group came from the Hudz/Subaru rider Frattini with 3 laps remaining. As he roared through the second pit area the Italian had five seconds on the chase group. A danger man like Frattini can not be given much of a lead so Knapp and Matter reeled him back in.
Eleven riders came through the finishing stretch in the bell lap and once again the race was going to end in a sprint. Out of the forest and into the chicanes Travis Livermon (Mock Orange Racing) was in the lead. However in the final tight turn Matter and Frattini bombed the inside turn and overtook Livermon. Matter was now leading with Frattini glued to his knobbies. The other nine riders were strung out in single file desperately trying to improve their positions before “The Wall.” Matter blasted up the steep incline with still no change in positions: Frattini and Knapp behind him. Around the 180 degree turn to the finish line Matter still leading out the sprint. Frattini tried to come around the Gear Grinder rider but couldn’t, running out of gas just meters before the line. Ryan Knapp once again crossed the finish in third.
Matter described his race winning strategy, “Frattini’s back tire looked a little low and was folding over, especially in the the last off-camber corner before the “Wall” so I wanted to be ahead of him going into that corner.”
“Yesterday he lead out the sprint so today was my turn,” continued the back to back winner.
With two UCI wins Matter was happy that he’d made the long drive from Wisconsin. “I got some money to pay for the gas and now I’m back to Wisconsin and Jingle ‘Cross.”
Women’s results here.
Men’s results here.