Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) won round 3 of the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group in Fontana, California, on Saturday afternoon. With three rounds done and one to go, Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) and Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) lead the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series.
Canadian Catharine Pendrel kept her Luna Pro Team’s USA Cycling US Cup winning streak alive on Saturday afternoon in Fontana. Pendrel won the race ahead of her teammate Katerina Nash, who had won the previous two rounds, and Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing).
The favorites quickly established themselves as the race’s leaders on lap 1 of the five-lap race around the 3.5-mile course. Nash, who is from the Czech Republic, set the early pace on a warm sunny day, along with Pendrel, Batty and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team). By the end of the first lap, the four were fairly clear of the rest of the field while Australian national champion Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) chased in fifth.
For the next few laps, the tenacious Gould would yo-yo on and off the back of the lead trio of Nash, Pendrel and Batty. It wasn’t until the fourth lap, when Pendrel made her move, that Gould was dropped for good by the leaders.
Pendrel had been biding her time among the leaders before launching her move on lap four. When she attacked, she quickly and decisively established a gap.
“I’ve been trying a different strategy every race,” said Pendrel. “Last weekend, I tried to drill it the whole time, and today I sat in a bit more and made a late race move to get away. Luckily I felt good.”
With no obligation to chase her teammate, Nash sat on and let Batty do all the work to try to close the gap.
Executing perfect tactics, the Luna ladies headed into the final lap with Pendrel comfortably in front. Then Nash took her turn and made her move on Batty. Riding solo for the duration ahead of the Canadian Batty, Nash did not catch Pendrel.
Pendrel rolled in for the win with plenty of time to celebrate. Nash claimed second ahead of Batty in third.
“It’s a super strong front end of the field,” said Pendrel. “Everyone has their moments and everyone gave their best. It’s been great to get Luna up in front at these races. Thanks to Sho-Air for making these happen and thanks to the fans for cheering us on.”
With its wide open, mostly treeless hillsides, the Fontana course provided good viewing of large portions of the course, making it especially spectator-friendly.
On the final few laps, Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com), an up and coming rider and also a podium finisher last week in Bonelli Park, moved her way up and into fifth. Impressively on the last lap, she bridged to fellow American Gould, who was then in fourth place; however, the experienced Gould proved stronger in the end and finished fourth ahead of Dong in fifth.
In the elite men’s race later in the afternoon, Australian national champion Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) won a three-up final sprint ahead of Manuel Fumic of Germany and Marco Aurelio Fontana of Italy (both Cannondale Factory Racing).
Emil Lindgren (Giant Pro XC), Fontana and Fumic set the pace on the first two laps of the six-lap race as they strung out the field and established a group of favorites that included McConnell, US cross country national champion Stephen Ettinger (BMC), Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Trek Factory Racing). US short track national champion Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) was among the top riders leading the chase.
Mantecon made a move near the end of lap three that only Fontana could follow at first. They were chased by Lindgren and Ettinger with Wells, Fumic and McConnell not far behind.
Going into the second half of the race, all the top riders came back together for a seven-man lead group including Mantecon, Fontana, Lindgren, Ettinger, Wells, McConnell and Fumic. It looked like the winner would come from this group.
Mantecon attacked again on lap four and Fontana went with him. Ettinger seemed to be riding well, too, but suddenly disappeared from the leaders on the downhill.
“We were off the front – Fontana, Gutierrez and me – at the top of the descent on the fourth lap when I blew a valve stem off my wheel. I didn’t have anyone in the back tech zone since I’m here by myself. It was a tough call, but I had to walk it in.” Ettinger abandoned the race.
Wells drove the chase to bring Mantecon and Fontana back while Lindgren seemed to hang on for dear life at times. McConnell rode steady and sat in.
On the penultimate lap, it was Fontana’s turn to surge, and he took Mantecon along with him for a bit of a gap. Wells chased in third ahead of McConnell, Fumic and Lindgren.
Unfortunately for Mantecon, he sprinted with one lap to go, thinking it was the end of the race, and then upon realizing his mistake, he had no choice but suffer through the last lap.
“Today I felt very good. The race was like a little World Cup. I tried to save my energy for the last lap, but I made a big mistake and with two to go, I thought it was the final lap and I sprinted,” said Mantecon. “Then I heard the bell, so in the last lap, I was in crisis. But I’m excited to be here with my new team and new teammate [eventual winner McConnell].”
Going into the final lap, Fontana led with a slight advantage. McConnell moved up a few spots to head the chase on the climb, just ahead of Fumic. Fontana started to look visibly tired near the top of the climb although it had at first seemed like he might hold off the chasers, but on an exciting final descent, McConnell and Fumic bridged up to him.
McConnell smartly took over the lead heading toward the last part of the lap, when passing was difficult, and he led out the sprint, holding off Fumic and a tired Fontana. It would not be Fontana’s day to win in Fontana.
Wells came across the line as the top American in fourth place, a performance that was good enough to bump him up one place in the series standings, into second overall.
Lindgren completed the podium for fifth while Mantecon limped home for sixth.
Second-year elite rider Anton Cooper (Cannondale Factory Racing), a former junior world champion, finished an impressive seventh.
Defending USA Cycling US Cup series leader Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) could not hold the pace of the top riders on the day, but as other favorites dropped out or fell further back, he rode consistently enough to finish ninth and keep his lead with 94 points to Wells’ 79 points.
Previous series runner-up Max Plaxton (Cannondale Factory Racing) did not finish the race.
USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group Series Standings
After round three of four in the USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series, Kabush leads the series ahead of Wells and Plaxton while Nash continues to lead the series ahead of Pendrel and Batty.
The USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series will continue with the final round, a UCI Category 1 race in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Saturday, June 28.
Fontana Cross Country Result Highlights
1 Catharine Pendrel (Canada) Luna Pro Team 1:29:06
2 Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) Luna Pro Team 1:29:36
3 Emily Batty (Canada) Trek Factory Racing 1:30:03
4 Georgia Gould (United States) Luna Pro Team 1:31:08
5 Evelyn Dong (United States) Backcountry.com 1:31:25
1 Dan McConnell (Australia) Trek Factory Racing 1:30:25
2 Manuel Fumic (Germany) Cannondale Factory Racing 1:30:36
3 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy) Cannondale Factory Racing 1:30:38
4 Todd Wells (United States) Specialized Racing 1:31:04
5 Emil Lindgren (Sweden) Giant Pro XC 1:31:18
USA Cycling US Cup Series Standings after Three Rounds
1 Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) Luna Pro Team 107 points
2 Catharine Pendrel (Canada) Luna Pro Team 94 points
3 Emily Batty (Canada) Trek Factory Racing 82 points
4 Georgia Gould (United States) Luna Pro Team 70 points
5 Evelyn Dong (United States) Backcountry.com 61 points
1 Geoffrey Kabush (Canada) Scott-3Rox Racing 94 points
2 Todd Wells (United States) Specialized Racing 79 points
3 Max Plaxton (Canada) Cannondale Factory Racing 69 points
4 Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain) Trek Factory Racing 57 points
5 Marco Fontana (Italy) Cannondale Factory Racing 53 points
6 Manuel Aurelio Fumic (Germany) Cannondale Factory Racing 53 points
Please see attached PDF and Excel files for full results from the Fontana cross country race. Full series standings will be distributed later.
Above Photo – Catharine Pendrel(Luna Pro Team) wins the elite women’s race in Fontana, round 3 of the USA Cycling US Cup Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group
Photo by Brian Hodes / VeloImages.com