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BEND, Oregon (VN) — What do you get for a 35-year-old bike racer on her birthday? Same thing you get everyone else — a cake and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Unlike regular folks, Katerina Nash (Luna) got her gifts just after crossing the finish line first at the final race of the Deschutes Brewery Cup.
“That’s definitely a first,” said Nash, whose Sunday triumph completed a sweep of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series finale. “I was even getting some cupcakes out on course. It was fun.”
Just as fun for Nash was her domination of the 33-rider field. After initially getting balled up at the start, the Czech rider took off like a shot, jumping out to a nine-second lead on the first lap, and then padding her advantage with each ensuing go-round on the tacky, fast course.
Just like the day before, Nash’s Luna teammate Georgia Gould took the runner-up spot, finishing 24 seconds back. The back-to-back second-place efforts were enough to thrust Gould past an absent Katie Compton and into the top spot of the final overall standings. Compton ended up second overall.
“It was always a big goal for me,” said Gould of a run to the series title that included eight podium finishes, but no race wins. “I just wish I had won a race. But that’s racing. Now it’s just time to focus on nationals and world’s.”
Gould said Sunday’s race basically ended in the very first corner.
“I was on the outside and it was sketchy, so I eased up a little so I didn’t crash because people were being so aggressive,” she said. “After that, I started moving up a spot here or there.
“But just as we were getting into the one of the technical sections, Katerina got around to the front and I knew that was the move. I just didn’t have enough room to get around. Then I’m behind people that mess up here or there. That slows you down and by the time I got through the traffic she was gone.”
Caroline Mani (Raleigh-Clement) told a similar tale and got the exact same result as Saturday, third place.
“My start was a disaster,” said the Frenchwoman. “It was a big mess in the first corner. I should have been closer to the front, but I was pretty far back. At that point I didn’t think the podium was possible, but I didn’t give up and just did my own race.”
The other most significant result of the day was a seventh place for Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), which was just enough to keep her in third place overall in the final series standings. Krasniak was 11th the day before.
She blamed her bad legs in part on her recent nuptials, which were last Tuesday in Portland.
“I feel so bad this weekend,” said Krasniak. “But I had my wedding just a few days ago, which is not the best way to be in shape for this weekend. I was so tired and my legs were so bad, so it was my worst weekend of USGP.
“But of course it was still fun even if I have bad legs. All my friends were here from Portland to cheer me.”