BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Georgia Gould came into Saturday's Iceman Cometh the undisputed favorite in the women's 30-mile race from Kalkaska to Traverse City.
The Olympic bronze medalist did not disappoint.
Gould took charge at Anita's Hill — about five miles from the finish — to capture the title in 1:53:12. Emily Batty, who was on the Canadian Olympic team, placed second in 1:55:03. Defending champion Heather Irmiger edged McKenzie Woodring for third, although both were clocked in 1:55:09.
"I tried to be patient before (Anita's Hill)," Gould said. "I like riding hard the whole time. But you can tow everyone around and get out-sprinted at the end. I'm trying to be smarter in my races. So I waited until that hill and I attacked. I got a gap and I just took it all the way in."
Gould, who also took third in the world championships this year, called it a tactical ride. The four top finishers broke away into a pack, but no one tried to pull away until Anita's Hill.
"Once I got a gap I just started to ride my own pace," Gould said. "I kept the tempo high. The course is so fast that it's really hard to close down gaps. I knew based on how everybody was riding that if I got a gap they would just let me go."
Batty said she got caught taking the wrong line on Anita's Hill.
"She (Gould) made an attack on the steepest, longest sandy climb," Batty said. "If you're not right in the exact hard-packed line, if you're off to the right by two inches, it's twice as hard. That's where it shattered and Georgia got a nice gap on us."
Batty and Irmiger, teammates for Subaru/Trek, were then battling for second when they collided and took a spill.
"It was right hand corner," Batty said. "She (Irmiger) was going wide and I was coming inside and we hooked bars."
Woodring took advantage and moved into second. Once Batty and Irmiger regrouped, they made a late charge and barely caught Woodring.
"We put ourselves into a bit of a disadvantage," Irmiger said. "McKenzie got a pretty good gap on us.
"It was an intense last 3K as always."
Batty had not raced in 12 weeks.
"You definitely need a few races before doing something with this hard of an effort, just to break the legs and lungs back in," she said.
Batty broke her collarbone in a crash just days before the Olympics, but still raced.
"Two weeks before the Olympics I was fourth in our last World Cup (race)," she said. "I felt I had podium potential (at the Olympics). A medal wasn't out of the question. Then three days before the Olympics I had a silly crash and unfortunately broke my collarbone.
"I'm only 24. I plan on being in two more Olympics. I was meant to be there. At that point, though, I was just in survival mode, just trying to race, do well and really take in everything I could so I know what to expect for the next Olympics."
Irmiger was pleased to finish third, given the late collision.
"I was hoping for a top three today," she said. "To squeeze it out by a half bike length, that will work."
It was Gould's first Iceman — and probably not her last.
"Oh my gosh, so impressed," the Colorado resident said of the event. "Just the all the people out here, the course. It was super fun. Coming through the finish area was literally was one of the most awesome finishes ever in my life.
"I'm so glad I came. I'll definitely be back."