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MONTEREY, California (VN) — After winning the Cape Epic stage race earlier this spring, Specialized teammates Annika Langvad and Kate Courtney took the top two spots in the Sea Otter Classic. Evie Richards (Trek) finished third Saturday in the UCI pro cross-country event.
“This course is really, really hard. It’s so exposed and very fast.” said Langvad. “I kind of sat in and tried to save some energy. Tried at times to just hang on to fast girls, Kate [Courtney] and Evie [Richards].”
Just two laps into the six-lap race, the U.S. champion Courtney whittled the front group down to eight riders.
At around the race’s halfway point, climbing up a portion of the Laguna Seca racetrack, the selection was made. Erin Huck (Scott) led a chase group of three riders, about 10 seconds behind. However, they wouldn’t be able to close the gap.
Richards tried her luck at the front of the group, but Courtney was quick to move back into the lead. She put on the pressure in a sandy section of the course, just after the finish.
The trio stretched out but ultimately stayed together until the final lap. Then, Langvad, the former world champion, made her winning move.
“We were all hanging pretty hard on those climbs. I went a little early on the first climb on the last lap, on the paved climb, and it wasn’t enough to make separation,” said Courtney. “Annika pulled through. … On those short kickers she has more power than anyone. She really hit it, and it was very cool to watch.”
Courtney was gapped for a bit but she chased back and overtook Richards.
The Danish champ came home alone, and her American teammate Courtney held off the Brit for second.
“Hats off to Kate and Evie,” Langvad added. “They were so strong and really made it a tough tough race. I really had to grind my teeth to hang in there.”