Katerina Nash and Geoff Kabush won the inaugural Fat Tire Carson City Off-Road Criterium races Friday night, and their methods were as different as night and day.
In the women’s race, the Czech-born Nash, who at one time attended the University of Nevada, led just two laps, including the last one, when she pulled ahead of Rose Grant to grab the victory.
Nash seemed content to draft off others, including Luna teammate Maghalie Rochette, much of the race.
She took the lead on the eighth lap from Olivia Dillon, the eventual fourth-place finisher, but lost it to Grant on the next lap. Amy Beisel moved into second, but Nash was able to overtake both of them on the final lap.
“There was no plan (between Maghalie and I),” said Nash, who missed the first two Epic races because of World Cup events. “It was a strong field. There was a lot of wind. Every time we turned it was into a headwind. It was hard to do much.
“I can’t complain (about my season). I jumped back into World Cup this year. I decided to return to the area for the summer. I’m heading back to Europe next week.”
The wind, according to many riders, played a big role in the race. Riders were reluctant to expend the kind of energy it takes to make big moves. The front pack, save for some small jostling of places, was constant.
“It was hard to get separation,” Grant said. “I don’t regret anything I did. I didn’t run a very tactical race. A lot of the time, it (the criterium) comes down to a sprint, and the best sprinter is going to win. She (Nash) is strong all the way around.”
The two rivals figure to see a lot of each other in Sunday’s 50-mile race. Grant has a 16-minute 12-second lead over Rochette, and barring an accident or something mechanical, Grant seems a lock for the overall championship. Winning Sunday’s race, especially with Nash in the field, could be difficult.
The one advantage Nash has over much of the field is she has ridden in the Tahoe area before.
“They did a great job with the course,” Nash said. “It’s going to be awesome. I’ve ridden the Tahoe Rim Trail before. I think everybody is going to have a really good time.”
Rochette was third and Dillon, who didn’t race in the first two events, was fourth. Beisel, who was seventh in the first two criteriums, was fifth. Rochette had a sixth and fourth in the first two races of the series.
Kabush, meanwhile, led the fourth and fifth laps. He was second in laps six through nine before taking the lead with 1 1/2 laps to go to grab the victory over Russell Finsterwald.
Jeremy Martin was third, Benjamin Sonntag fourth and Kyle Trudeau fifth.
On the sixth lap, Kabush and Finsterwald began to pull away from the pack and open up a huge lead. They were never seen again by the second tier of racers. It was almost too easy.
“The wind discouraged some people from trying to make a move,” Kabush said. “You had to decide whether it was worth the risk. Russ and I traded half laps back and forth. I thought with a lap and a half left I might be able to open up a gap on him. I think he was surprised a little bit (when I took off). That’s when you want to do it.”
Kabush is no stranger to winning. His résumé is just as impressive as American Todd Wells.
Kabush is a 13-time Canadian champion, a five-time Canadian national cyclocross champion, and a four-time U.S. National Short Track Series champion .
The 38-year-old is also a three-time Olympian. He was eighth in London, ninth in Australia and 20th in Beijing.
Finsterwald admitted he was caught by surprise.
“It surprised me a little,” Finsterwald said. “I have to pay a little more attention.
“Geoff and I got out fast. We worked together pretty well. He had it at the end.”
Finsterwald, on his Twitter account, said he was impressed with the 50-mile course.
“Some of the trails are amazing,” he said.
Approximately 60 riders participated in the 15-mile Fun Race which kicked off the festivities.
Jose Ledezma clocked a 1-hour 41-minutes 32-seconds to win the race by 10 seconds over Steven Kubel. Darren Anderson was third in 1:44.24, while Sierra Lutheran track standout Jared Marchegger was fourth in 1:45.41. Minden’s Shawn Taylor was fifth in 1:56.52, Reno’s Jerad Mochel was sixth and Isaac Harrison took seventh. Another local track standout, Adam Flaten of Carson High, was eighth in 1:58.21.
The amateur 35 and 50-mile races are on tap today starting at 7:30 (50-miler) and 8:45 a.m. (35-miler).