Nash and Cooper win U.S. Cup round two at Fontana

Nash and Cooper claim wins in California, and with that they assume overall leads in the U.S. Cup mountain bike series

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Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and Anton Cooper (Cannondale) won round two of the USA Cycling U.S. Cup Pro Series in Fontana City, California on Saturday.

Nash took advantage of a fast start lap and a huge gap, caused by her teammate Catherine Pendrel. Nash and Georgia Gould (Luna), along with Emily Batty (Trek) rounded out the lead group ahead of Chloe Woodruff (Stan’s NoTubes-Niner) and Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance).

At the end of the fourth lap, Batty crashed on a dusty drop-off which gave Nash the chance to escape for good.

Gould took the sprint for second ahead of Batty and Pendrel, with Erin Huck (Scott 3 Rox) in fifth.

“I was unaware of what was going on. I was up front and I got a gap so I assumed there was a problem,” said Nash. “I fully expected Emily to come back, but once I got the gap, I pinned it all the way until the end. I used my downhill skills and made gravity work for me.”

“It was a total battle out there, trying to sit second wheel,” said Batty. “There were three of them [Luna team riders], so it would’ve been pretty disappointing if they didn’t get it.”

In the men’s race, Cannondale’s Kiwi Anton Cooper took the holeshot, and series leader Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) was close behind, along with Geoff Kabush (Scott 3 Rox).

The lead group included Gagne, Kabush, Cooper, Marco Fontana (Cannondale), Todd Wells (Specialized), Stephen Ettinger (Sho-Air/Cannondale), and Italian Andrea Tiberi (FRM Factory).

Despite bobbles by Fontana and Kabush, a lead group of six riders crystalized after one lap: Gagne, Cooper, Kabush, Wells, Ettinger, and Fontana.

Three laps later, Cooper and Gagne pulled away on a rolling rocky section. They held their lead for the remainder of the race, with Fontana and Fumic solidifying their top-five spots.

Cooper’s decisive attack came midway through the last lap as he distanced himself on the final time up the asphalt climb. Cooper held and then extended his lead through the rolling and twisty singletrack to win by 11 seconds over Gagne, with Fumic, Fontana, and Mantecon rounding out the top-five in that order.

“What a way to finish off this first part of the season,” said Cooper at the finish. “And after last week, it’s great to come away with the win. Having Manny and Marco on the podium with me makes it even better. Now, I head home and start ramping up for the World Cup.”

“Good job to Anton. He’s a super-tough guy,” said Gagne at the finish. “I felt stronger today than last week, so I’m real happy with my race. The course was great, I really liked it.”

After round two of the U.S. Cup, Cooper takes over the lead ahead of Gagne, while Nash leads the women’s series ahead of Batty.

The series will continue with round three, a UCI Category HC race, at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California on April 11.

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