TRAVERSE CITY — The drama of the Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh women’s pro race ended in the last five miles.
It was at that point that Catharine Pendrel pulled away from Chloe Woodruff and cruised to an easy victory to claim her first Iceman title in her second try.
Up to that point it had been a two-woman race as Pendrel and Woodruff separated themselves from the pack relatively early. Pendrel, a member of the Canadian Olympic team, was able to create a wide gap between the top two and came in with a time of 1:53:15, more than a minute ahead of Woodruff (1:54:52).
“With about 7K to go,” Pendrel said, when asked when she became the solitary rider at the head of the field. “I felt good but I was kind of worried because I know (Woodruff) has an amazing sprint and I wasn’t opening it up on the climb.”
The victory was Pendrel’s first in her second attempt at the Iceman. She took third last time.
“I came here two years ago and I definitely learned a lot about the course,” she said. “I was in the top three until the last 5K, then got out-tacticed at the end there. This year I played a good race and things just came together. I was feeling really good and I had fun. Coming into the crowd here at the end, that was pretty much unbeatable. That was so unreal, so loud, so much fun, so much good energy.”
Pendrel got into the early lead due to her work on the early single-track sections of the trail. She slowly lost each member of the leading pack until she was left alone with Woodruff for a good part of the race.
“There was four of us, myself, Emily Batty, Chloe Woodruff and Mackenzie (Woodring). They’re all really strong,” Pendrel said.
Woodring ended up in third in a time of 1:55:15, while Batty took fifth (1:57:55). Sara Kylander-Johnson ended up squeezing into fourth in a time of 1:57:48.
Pendrel and Woodruff left the others behind near the midpoint of the race.
“It was earlier than I expected it to come apart,” Pendrel said. “I’m happy because my sprint’s not the best. I just wanted to wear it down rather than sprint it out.”
Woodruff, who also came in second in 2011, said she was simply worn down by Pendrel and could only keep pace with the winner for so long.
“She made me work really hard,” said Woodruff. “I had a good race out there. I confess, I was a complete wheel sucker. I was just trying to hang on Catharine’s wheel. It was a good opportunity to race on her wheel. The last 5K was just attrition, trying to hang on.”