The weekend kicked off with an exciting one-mile circuit crit through the streets of downtown Bentonville, an all-out drag race where the pro women would race for 20 minutes plus three laps. Kaysee Armstrong and Crystal Anthony both rode strong, surging ahead and pulling a gap on the rest of the field for a period of the race before being reeled back in and finishing 9th and 10th, respectively.
Sunday’s pro backcountry XC race showcased some of the best singletrack in the Ozark Mountains, with 48 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing over undulating, rocky and rooty terrain. The race began Sunday with temperatures barely creeping above 40 degrees, adding another layer of difficulty to the demanding route on tap. After torrential downpours earlier in the week, the dirt had become tacky and fast despite a few leftover puddles. Early in the race, a pack of 15 riders formed. But, as the miles ticked on, riders began to fall off the pace or succumb to flat tires, leaving a group of five at the front with a comfortable gap on the remainder of the field. In that lead group, Anthony rode consistently and found strength to rally against any small gaps that formed. Coming into the final stretch, Anthony sprinted aboard her Pique Advanced Pro 29 to finish 4th, just two seconds back after almost four hours of racing.
“Coming into the final turns of the Epic Rides Oz Trails Off-Road in the lead group of four in my new hometown was incredible,” said Anthony, who made Bentonville home this year, after moving from Newbury Park, California. “Hearing all the local cheers was a huge boost as well.”
Armstrong finished the day in 9th with a time of 4:04:31.
Though the 2019 mountain bike season may be over, Anthony has already begun her cyclocross season, finishing 4th at FayetteCross in Fayetteville, Arkansas just one week ago.