Canadian Ruby West (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) sealed a second consecutive win in the elite women's race. The podium was the same as the previous day with Lily Williams second and Hannah Arensman third.
A second day of racing at Jackson Park in western N.C. provided a change in surroundings and in course conditions. Early races at the Hunter Subaru North Carolina Grand Prix (NCGP) turned the frozen tundra into rutty mud for the elite riders vying for final points on the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross (ProCX) calendar. The brown track provided a stark contrast to the white snow blanketing the trees and hills.
West was ranked 15th in the ProCX standings for elite women coming to NC, while top points would help her move into the top-12 for the year, or higher, she was focused on just beating Lily Williams (Pony Shop CX Team) to the line for a second day in a row.
"It was a really strong battle with Lily (Williams)," said 18-year-old West, who would pick up her fourth consecutive win on Sunday. "It was a hard race for sure. I know I got a bit of a gap with one lap to go, and then I had a bit of a bobble on the 'W' part. I was trying to ride it, and I really screwed that up. So she came back to me. And as soon as she saw the gap closing I think that was her motivation. It was a bit of a hunt on the last lap. I’m really glad I could pull it off."
West and Williams would ride in tandem around the course for a second day. Williams, who is from nearby Asheville, would finish second for a second day, five seconds behind West. Third place was taken by 19-year-old N.C. rider Hannah Arensman (.A. King P/B BR’c), 14 seconds behind Williams. Her older sister, Allison, would finish fourth.
"I think the course was a little bit different than yesterday for sure," West noted. "The conditions throughout the race were changing. So it was one of those days when as soon as you started to get comfortable with the line, it was changing all around you. It was hard to find a groove out there. I think it was thawing as the race went on, and people were sliding more and more. It was just deteriorating as the race went on, and got more slippery."
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North Carolina resident Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team) took the win for a second consecutive day in the elite men's race at Hunter Subaru North Carolina Grand Prix (NCGP).
The final podium was pretty much in place after the first lap, Werner followed by Eric Thompson (MSPEEDWAX.COM) and Tristan Cowie. It was Cowie who tried his hand at the front early by winning the hole shot.
"I wanted to get the hole shot and push hard in the first lap," said, the NC rider, who was the only pro to ride The Wall the entire race. “I wanted to try to get a gap on everybody so I could ride my own race, ride my own pace. It was a little slicker today than yesterday. Just trying to stay on your toes and find some new lines. I got out front for a little bit and made a few mistakes and got shuffled back."
Cowie lost his position on the second lap with a miscue in the pits, allowing Merwin Davis (Cycle-Smart Inc.) of Boone to pass. Two more laps in and Cowie caught Davis to chase down the two leaders. All riders were trying to find the right lines in the mud.
"In pre-ride, it was pretty obvious that everywhere you rode yesterday you didn’t ride today, just because of all the ruts from yesterday had frozen overnight,” said Werner. "It wasn’t so bad during our race because It thawed a little bit more. But it was interesting. It was about where you could pedal, and where you could maintain speed, and stay smooth all race."
By the bell lap there were no more wheels to follow to find the right lines, only gaps forming and the finish line getting closer. Werner was in charge, followed by Thompson and a charging Cowie.
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