US Cup at Bonelli Park: Sweat and Smiles Among the Women...

Can I be excused for not being quite sure what to call today's XC race at Bonelli Park? Sometimes mountain bike races can have such convoluted titles, and this one seemed to be a combine of three separate series - the US Cup Pro XCT #2, the Kenda Cup West #2, and the US Cup Pro Triple Crown West #1. Hopefully someone in an official capacity understands it all; it didn't really matter all that much to me, as I was just there to watch some racing. It turned out to be an excellent day for it too, nice and sunny, but cooler than the past couple days. Of course that didn't make the tight turns, steep climbs, and fast descents any easier. I only had time to take in one race, but was able to choose which one it would be - the pro women.

Though the difficult nature of the course naturally caused gaps to quickly open between the front and back of the race field, the competition between the first few racers remained rather tight until the final lap. Eventual winner, Lesley Paterson, started at the back of the field but progressively made up ground during the early laps, then moved to the front on one of those middle laps, and never left that spot. Canadian Emily Batty, was set to make a race of it, and in fact along with teammate, Anne Last, rode 1st and 2nd for the earliest laps, but a mechanical at the bottom of one of the courses steep hills cost her any chance.

Chloe Woodruff (CrankBrothers Racing) takes advantage of the Trek Factory Team umbrella handler during the call to the line

the two Trek Factory ladies, Anne Last & Emily Batty, lead the field near the end of the first full lap

with another full lap to go, eventual victor, Lesley Paterson leads Emily Batty and Lea Davison

i would say Larissa Fitchett (Lost Coast Brewery) had the best smile of the day, but I swear, lap after lap it never left her face. so, was it a smile, or a grimace?

Emily Batty had the wheel of Lesley Paterson for exactly one more second of this final lap, when a mis-shift cost her any chance to contest the race

Judy Freeman (CrankBrothers Racing) would end the day in 7th

no mistake - that is a smile on the face of Lesley Paterson

Even though I only had time for this one race, I did overhear the announcing of awards for some earlier action including the "old guys", where Tinker Juarez took another in a long list of victories. There was a lot of action throughout the day, and it will be going on again tomorrow. Forty-nine more photos from the women's pro race are here.