Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) won the elite women’s race at the Manitoba Grand Prix of Cyclocross by slipping away from her rivals in the final minutes of racing. The UCI C2 race wrapped up the three-day Shimano Canadian Cyclocross Championships in Winnipeg.
The battle for UCI points and the win got started when Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) rode away with the holeshot for the second time of the weekend. Pendrel, who had claimed her second Canadian cyclocross championship the day before, slotted into the front group.
The course’s tricky off-camber turns claimed their first victim early in lap one when Rochette lost traction and put a foot down. The mishap sent her back to seventh in a twisty grass section and helped Gabby Durrin (Neon Velo) take charge of the group that began to distance the field.
Durrin gained some separation over Pendrel, Ellen Noble (JAM Fund Cycling Team), and Mical Dyck (Stan’s NoTubes). In the first pass through the sand pits, riders slowed, holding up Pendrel, allowing Durrin to peel away. Rochette and Natasha Elliott (Cycle-Smart) chased.
In the second lap, Pendrel escaped from her group to pursue Durrin alone. The Canadian nibbled away at Durrin’s 10-second lead and caught her with one lap to go. Rochette, who had moved up to third on course, trailed 20 seconds behind, riding alone ahead of Noble.
At the end of the back-to-back double sand pits, Pendrel got the jump on Durrin in the last lap. “At the concrete steps by the sand, she cut in a bit faster and was able to power away,” Durrin said. “I never quite got back on her, and then she was gone.”
Pendrel won her second race in two days with just a four-second advantage over Durrin. Rochette, the best U23 rider at the finish, arrived 30 seconds later. Noble held on for fourth ahead of Dyck.
In the end, Durrin felt content with her effort, saying, “It’s great to race with Catharine [Pendrel] because she’s a super champion. I felt good. I was thinking of what Mike [Garrigan] did to win yesterday and thought, ‘Maybe it will work, maybe I can stay away.’ But when you’ve got Catharine who is super strong coming up behind you, it’s tough.”
Pendrel said she fed off the energy from the crowds cheering for their Canadian riders.
“Definitely when I went to the front, the crowd got a lot louder so that was a really cool experience,” the Luna rider said. “It was fun to win the national championship and then race other nations and have Canada come out on top. That was a really neat aspect of today.”
Pendrel will compete at the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati next weekend.