SAN DIMAS, California — Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) and three-time world mountain bike champion Nino Schurter (Scott-ODLO) claimed round three of the USA Cycling US Cup at Bonelli Park in Southern California on Saturday.
“I’ve worked so hard leading up to this,“ Batty said. “Hats off to Catharine [Pendrel] for not making it easy. I really just had fun with it, throwing the rhythm off and dictating how I wanted it to go. I threw an attack in the corner and left it all out there,” she said of the finish sprint.
“It was a super tough course out there,“ said Schurter at the finish. “You have to be really careful in cornering. One mistake and you’re crashing. I like the shorter climbs, so it was a perfect course for me.”
Luna’s Georgia Gould got holeshot in the women’s race, with Specialized’s Lea Davison charging hard behind.
Scott-ODLO’s Swedish national champion Jenny Rissveds was first to attack and establish a commanding lead over the chasing group which contained the Luna contingent of Gould, Katerina Nash, and Katharine Pendrel, along with Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing), Erin Huck (Scott-3 Rox), and Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance).
By the second lap, with Rissveds still out front, the chase group began to come apart as Pendrel continued to apply pressure on the climbs. At this point, the chasers were reduced to just Pendrel, Batty, Nash, and Huck. Pendrel and Batty continued attacking, and at the end of lap two, Pendrel put in another effort which brought back Rissveds at the start of lap three of six.
Midway through the race, the front group was whittled down to Pendrel, Batty, and Huck. Then, Pendrel and Batty dispatched Huck on the climbs, building up a commanding lead that would last until lap five. The leaders sat up, which enabled Huck to come close to rejoining, followed by a resurgent Rissveds.
Just as they were about to make contact, Pendrel, the reigning world champion, put in another hard effort, and the gap went out again.
The two leaders, Pendrel and Batty, seemed content to face off in a finish line sprint, where Batty made a crafty move just past the final left-hand turn to come around Pendrel in a tight sprint for the win. Rissveds finished third, followed by Gould and Huck in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Cannondale Factory Racing’s Henrique Avancini continued the team’s record of fast starts by taking the early lead into the first full lap.
Three-time world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-ODLO Mtb Racing Team) soon took over, standing up and attacking on the first pass of the steep gravel climb.
Stephen Ettinger (Sho-Air-Cannondale), Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), and Sergio Mantecon (Trek Factory Racing) made up the early chase group. The race settled for the next few laps, with Schurter maintaining and even extending his lead up to a maximum of 30 seconds.
By the end of the fourth lap of seven, Mantecon and Gagne began to slowly pull back Schurter’s lead. The chase worked and they made contact on lap five after Schurter changed a rear flat. Unfortunately for Mantecon and Gagne, Schurter capitalized on the extra effort spent in the chase and pulled away with ease toward the start of the penultimate lap.
Mantecon and Gagne fought hard to keep the Swiss champion in their sights, only to see Schurter convincingly take the win.
After round three of the USA Cycling US Cup, Gagne takes over the men’s lead, while Batty retakes the lead in the women’s series ahead of Pendrel.
The USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series will continue with round four, a UCI Category C3 race, at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterrey, California on Saturday, April 18.