Round #1 of the Cannondale Triple Crown presented by Muscle Milk, was host to stop number two on USA Cycling’s Pro XCT yesterday at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California.
Under clear blue Southern California skies, Xterra World Champion Lesley Paterson (Scott Bicycles) and Sho-Air/Cannondale’s Jeremiah Bishop grabbed big wins as both riders took convincing victories in their respective classes.
US Cup promoters changed up this year’s XCO course, adding in additional climbing and new off camber sections on the five kilometer circuit. Most of the pro riders commented that the new layout was challenging and had a nice world cup feel to it with its short punchy climbs and rhythm changes.
With Bishops win, he now takes control of the Pro XCT series lead with 450 points over Todd Wells 350, while Lesley Patterson put the women’s cross country world on notice with a surprise win. Paterson, who came into the race as somewhat of an “X” factor left cross country world cup Olympians Emily
Batty (Trek) Lea Davison (Specialized) and Annie Last (Trek) scratching their heads.
Chloe Woodruff (Crank Bros.) put in a solid ride and landed in 4th on a women’s podium that was loaded with credentials.
On the first lap, Batty, Davison and Last had managed to open up a gap over the field, and it looked like the race would be between these three cross country regulars. Meanwhile Patterson was buried mid pack after starting back row.
However the Scottish Patterson didn’t seem to get the memo that these were North America’s best women cross country racers, and the “Scottish rocket” bridged the gap to the lead trio on lap 2 of 5.
From there a game of mouse ensued and the four girls tested one another. Then going into lap 3 Patterson began to apply the pressure and drove the pace, with only Batty able to respond.
Patterson kept the pressure on and slowly put distance between herself and Batty, extending her lead to over twenty seconds by the time she came across the finish line on the fifth and final lap.
Next in was Emily Batty, followed by Lea Davison, Chloe Woodruff and finally Annie Last of Great Britain, nearly five minutes in the rear.
When the men’s field lined up, all eyes were on Sho-Air/Cannondale’s Jeremiah Bishop and Specialized’s Todd Wells who were two and three in the Pro XCT series standings coming into Bonelli. With the absence of first round winner, Aussie Dan McConnell, Bishop and Wells would look to take over the series lead while Trek’s Sam Schultz and Russell Finsterwald looked to pick up the slack after mediocre results at the first round.
Late in the first lap, Bishop, Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain) and Todd Wells had already separated themselves from the men’s group.
As the laps continued, Wells was the first to crack under the pressure being applied by Sho-Air/Cannondale’s Jeremiah Bishop, with Canadian Gagne the only one able to respond.
With two to go in the six lap affair, Bishop began to turn the screws on Gagne just a little bit more an opened up 20 seconds. Wells in the meantime had suffered a flat and was now in danger of losing third place and precious series points to Trek’s Sam Schultz who was still plugging away.
Meanwhile another Canadian, Antoine Caron (Specialized Canada) was quietly putting in a solid ride in 5th and was the first U23 rider in the group.
With a lap to go, Bishop had broken the rubber band and Gagne slipped even farther back. The technical Bonelli course and warm weather looked to have finally taken a toll on the Canadian, as it did with most other riders on the day.
At the end, Bishop crossed the line with over a minute to spare on Gagne, then Wells at over two minutes, followed by Schultz and the U23 Canadian rider Antoine Caron rounding out the top 5 with a solid ride.