Batty Again at the US Cup, Bonelli Park

There was a distinct, painful upward pitch in the trail here but, holey-moley, I don't remember it being this steep - Maghalie Rochette shows how to get it done.

Downhill and off-caber is never a good combination when you are trying to maintain speed. Everyone had to slow here, but Caroline Mani tamed the turn with a little extra body-english.

Before getting on with the race, and for something completely different [sorry but I am watching a little Monty Python while posting this up] lets all wish Al Garza a Happy Birthday - his family did it in style as he came through the feed zone, and approached the finish:

A month ago, when the US Cup last stopped in at Bonelli, Emily Batty made the decisive move away from her nearest competitors on the back side of the course, with about a half lap to go. This time the decision was not made until the final few yards. Once again Batty's nearest adversary was Catharine Pendrel, the two competitively matched throughout the race. Coming down the final descent and onto the grass the outcome was anyone's guess. The announcers seemed to think the more veteran, Pendrel, had the advantage in a sprint, that Batty's best chance for a second victory would have been to pull away from Catharine before the finish. All that guessing was moot though, as Emily Batty had just enough to out-sprint and out-throw the World Champion.

Of course those were the final few seconds only of a long and dusty race. There was much that happened in between that point, and the starters whistle which sent the riders into their first mad dash of the day. Early on, it was Jenny Rissveds, the multi-disciplined champion of Sweden who held the lead. Considering the strength of the chasers behind her as she flew past me on the second lap, I knew her few second advantage was tenuous. Whether Rissveds was simply overhauled on the next grueling lap, or suffered some other mishap unseen by me, when the leaders came past again, she was now in fourth spot, behind Pendrel, Batty, and Erin Huck. Katerina Nash, Georgia Gould, and Larissa Connors were next in procession, though the gap to each of them was growing. The time of another lap passed with riders further back grinding and finessing their way along the technical course. When the leaders came back into view there were three, Pendrel, seemingly ever in the lead, followed by Batty, and then Huck. It was right at this moment, though, that three became two; as I focused on taking a shot of Pendrel, a soft clatter, and small puff of dust indicated that Huck's wheels had slid out while approaching that off-camber turn (being finessed by Mani in the photo above). I didn't see it, but there it is in the background of one of the photos. As Erin, now covered in dust, picked up her bike and herself, you knew she faced a hard-pressed pursuit of Pendrel and Batty. And what a gritty and determined pursuit it was. When the leaders came back around again, they were a trio once more. It makes you wonder, or at least it does me, what would have happened if Huck had not slid out. A chase like that, on a course as challenging as this, had to have cost a great deal of energy. A two-up sprint at the end could very well have been contested by three instead, if not for that one most brief of moments. 

 Katlyn Dundas (Wolfpack Racing)

Pendrel ahead of Batty at this point.

Someone's big head got in the way, but I think you can see Emily (on the right) just ahead. It was a great finish.

The top ten: 1. Emily Batty, 2. Catherine Pendrel, 3. Jenny Rissveds, 4. Erin Huck, 5. Georgia Gould, 6. Chloe Woodruff, 7. Larissa Connors, 8. Lea Davison, 9. Katerina Nash, 10. Rebecca Henderson.

There are 127 photos in the Flickr album, all from the Women's Pro race, as well as a few incidental scenes.

The photos are not a complete catalog, but are representative of all the others taken during the day, so if you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know with a race number and I will see what I can find. 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.