2015 Kenda Cup West, Bonelli Park: Canadians Came, Canadians Conquered

Every year teams from Canada come down into Southern California for the US Cup / Kenda Cup West races that are held here. Ostensibly, you might be led to believe it is to ride some fitness into their legs, what with winter still clenching their more northern homeland. Every year they put in a strong showing. This year, they transformed a merely strong showing, into a stellar one.

Pendrel, Woodruff, Batty, Gould, Nash, Connors descend before the rock garden on lap two

The women professionals were the second race on tap today, Category 1's having run the course first thing in the morning. It didn't take long for a select group to form ahead of the rest of the field. I found myself a comfy (NOT) spot in the rock garden and waited for their arrival. The television helicopter overhead gave good warning of their approach, and as they came into view around an off-camber turn it was defending champion, Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team), leading through. Following, in rapid procession, was Nash's teammate (and World Champion) Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team), Chloe Woodruff (Stans Notubes - Niner), Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing), Mahalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team), Larissa Connors (RideBiker Alliance), and Andrea Waldis (Luna Pro Team).

 A lap later it was Pendrel out front, with Woodruff, Batty, Gould, Nash, and Connors hot after Catharine's charging wheels. At this early point in the race everyone outside this front group of riders were quickly being ridden out of contention - the demanding course, and relentless pace exacting a heavy toll. Keep in mind, the remainder of the field was in no way composed of slackers and race fodder; it contained such accomplished racers as National Champion Lea Davison, Erin Huck, last years' revelation Evelyn Dong, Caroline Mani, Teal Stetson-Lee, Lesley Paterson, and many more - some sixty-five racers total.

The next time through, the lead group had refined itself even further, now numbering four - Pendrel, Batty, Gould, and Connors. Nash and Woodruff were in hot pursuit, but the gap to the lead four was telling. The fourth lap saw the same quartet out front with no one showing weakness, nor giving ground. The fifth time through the rock garden, though, cracks were beginning to show; Pendrel, Batty, and Gould were all tightly packed, but a slight, if clear, gap had opened to Connors. With her perpetual smile still gracing her face you couldn't tell, but her top three chances were slipping beyond reach. Still riding strongly in pursuit came, first Woodruff, and then Nash, both riding solo at this time. Among the rest of the racers, Paterson, Huck, Dong, Davison, and Sandra Walter (Liv-Giant CoFactory Team) in that order, were closest to the leaders.

It was on the final lap, as expected, that the decisive move was made. That move was made by Batty, who charged down through the rock garden and over the bridges with, perhaps, a few seconds gap over Pendrel. Likewise, Pendrel had pulled clear of Gould who, in her turn, was further ahead of Connors. And that is how they finished - with some considerable climbing yet to do, I was able to make my way around the hills to the finish in time to see them come in. Each woman had been able to extend their lead over their nearest chaser, and each of those gaps was surprisingly quite equal. Final tally - Canada 1st and 2nd. USA 3rd (good to see Georgia Gould racing so strongly so early in the year).

the four leaders (Pendrel, Batty, Gould, Connors) have just topped this hill; now you see what i mean when i say the perpetual smile of Connors.

As you know I go to a lot of these races and believe we have some strong local talent. But it is always a humbling experience to witness the exceptional riding when the international-calibre racers come into the southland. Special thanks to Catharine Pendrel for the smile as I snapped a final photo then applauded her effort as she came into the finish. It made my day; I'm easy that way.

Alright then, a lot of photos to go through this evening. The only report from today will be the one above, for the women, but there will be photos from the Cat 1s and some pro men as well. See you again out there tomorrow.

i could lighten this one up, but quite frankly i thing the shadowing highlights the intensity and focus. Erik Kristiansen on his way to 4th place, Cat 1 Men (25-29)

Yet another win for this man. Tinker Juarez in the Cat 1 Men (50-54)
finishing about two and a half minutes up on second placed Johnny O'Mara

So here is the link to the Flickr album. All the photos that are going to be in the album are there - 136 of them in this case. As usual, I took something like six times as many photos so if you don't see what, or who, you were looking for, let me know with a race number and I will see what I can find. As usual, if you see a photo you like feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image.

Want more? Go ahead and order your own copy of the CLR Effect racing annual. There are two editions available right now (2013 and 2014), and you can preview them by clicking the 2014 Seasons in the Sun Book Preview button near the top of the right hand column, or under the title banner at the top of the page.