Maghalie Rochette has made no secret that she is a big fan of Rochester Cyclocross, and on Saturday, they may very well need to rename the city Rochettechester after she dominated the UCI C1 for the second straight year.
After a fast start from Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX), Rochette, Caroline Mani (Pactimo Women’s CX-Gravel Project), Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX) and Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) joined the Trek rider at the front to form an early group of five.
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Rochette led the group into the famed Double Trouble feature, and when she cleared the second descent with a small gap, she decided to test her legs a bit. The result was nothing short of a bomb dropped on the Elite Women’s field in a race that had many of the top domestic riders on the start list.
By the time Rochette rolled through the start/finish straight, she already had a 15-second lead on her chasers. She would not relinquish it for the rest of the afternoon.
After years of attending the Rochester race, Rochette is now on a roll with three-straight wins on a course she loves to not just race but also go out and rip.
“I think it is [special] because it’s the first one, but also because [Rochester] is great,” Rochette said. “The course is super fun, there’s a bit of everything, there’s people cheering, it’s well-organized. It’s a lot of fun. Just thinking about the course makes me smile. It’s a nice place for me.”
With the two U.S. World Cups looming in the next two weeks, the Elite Women’s field for Saturday’s Rochester Cyclocross UCI C1 featured many of the top riders in North America, save maybe Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight), who is still recovering from the effects of a crit crash last month.
On a nearly perfect September afternoon at Genesee Valley Park, the Elite Women responded by getting off to a fast start on a course that dried out after some Friday afternoon rain. As she often does, Ellen Noble took the holeshot and led the field out onto the course, while Rochette slotted in at second wheel. One of last weekend’s hot racers Caroline Mani then took over the lead spot and led the women into the technical section on the far side of the course.
Led by Noble and Mani’s aggression, the field quickly broke apart, with Noble, Mani, Rochette, Kaitie Keough and Clara Honsinger forming a group at the front.
“The Jungle” section on the far side of the course featured a technical off-camber, series of ups and downs and a steep run-up that would seemingly favor a mountain biker or rider with top-level technical skills. Not surprisingly, it was two riders with extensive mountain biking experience who led the way.
When the riders hit the Double Trouble feature, Rochette and Noble were at the front—just like 2018—while Keough plunged down the descent a few seconds behind.
Once through the section, Rochette found herself with some space on Noble. Although Rochette’s most recent racing experience was the e-mountain bike World Championships, she was still up for seeing how it would go.
“I kind of got a tiny gap in the technical section after half a lap, and I thought I would just test it out and it worked out. I mean, I tested it out for real. I really went for it. I didn’t know if anyone would follow, but since I had a gap, I kept going,” Rochette said after the race.
Rochette’s test of her legs blew apart the front of Saturday’s Elite Women’s race. When she finished the first lap, she already had nearly 15 seconds on the others in the lead group, who already appeared they might be fighting for 2nd less than 10 minutes into the race.
In the second lap, Rochette made sure that was the case. She extended her lead and crossed the line nearly 35 seconds ahead of the chase group of Mani, Keough, Fahringer, Honsinger, Jenn Jackson (Easton – Giant p/b Transitions LifeCare) and Sammi Runnels (Squid Squad).
From there, Rochette stayed smooth and perfect to take a C1 win at Rochester for the second straight year. With the Upstate New York setting, she had a solid fan crew from Canada to cheer her to victory.
“I think there are a lot of Canadians out here,” Rochette said after the race. “It’s close to the border, and I think it’s great that the sport is growing in Canada and everyone’s coming out here. It was awesome.”
An Intense Battle for Second
While Rochette was blasting away at the front, an intense battle for second raged well into the race.
After a slow start, last weekend’s Day 1 winner Fahringer moved up to the lead group, while fast starter Noble faded off the pace. Honsinger and Runnels, who were dangling behind the leaders early in the race, pressed forward as well.
In the third of six laps, Keough attacked coming out of Double Trouble, and only Fahringer, Mani and Honsinger could answer Keough’s increased pace, while Jackson and Runnels faded a bit.
Early in the fourth lap, Mani dropped off the pace, and then in The Jungle technical section, Honsinger took advantage of the reduced group to put in an attack of her own. At the end of the lap, she held a 5-second advantage on Keough and Fahringer.
“Becca [Fahringer] had been at the front putting down a lot of power, and I had been able to match that,” Honsinger said. “I felt her sit up and take a break, so I decided it was time to go. With two laps to go I put it all in on the backside of the course, and it was all about not letting those accelerations die.”
Honsinger had a gap on her two rivals, but she still had two laps to go. Keough dangled close behind within eyesight every time Honsinger took a peek over her shoulder for the first half of the lap, but Honsinger had the last part of the course near the Belgian staircase dialed, and she picked up several seconds on Keough at the bell.
In the last lap, Honsinger held her advantage on Keough to take silver in her first UCI race as an Elite rider.
“Attacking out of every corner,” Honsinger said about keeping Keough at bay. “She’s so good through the technical bits, and she never bobbles where you think a little bit too hard and clip a pedal. She’s just so smooth, so it’s just about trying to extend it out of those corners as much as possible.”
Keough broke free from Fahringer in the bell lap to take a solid third.
UCI racing returns to Rochester on Sunday with a UCI C2 race. Full results are below.
Elite Women Results: 2019 Rochester Cyclocross Day 1
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