Nadeau wins Hell of the Marianas

WINNING RUN: Laura Nadeau attacks the last hill in the Hell of the Marianas Saturday in Saipan. Photo courtesy of Kristen Mendiola

Trailing Japanese female professional elite rider and 2017’s Hell Of The Marianas female winner Yasue Nakahara for nearly 10 miles, Guam’s Laura Nadeau was able to take the lead to win the 12th annual HOM 100K (62.1 miles) race with a time of 3 hours, 27 minutes 55 seconds.

This year, pro cyclists from around the world were eager to participate in the Saturday event, largely because last year’s race was cancelled due to the wrath of Super Typhoon Yutu, which caused catastrophic destruction to Saipan.

Nadeau said she was impressed with the turnout for this year’s race, which included six pro elite female riders. In addition to Nakahara and Nadeau, the other pros were Livia Hasenova of Slovenia, Hiutun Tsang and Phobe Leung of Hong Kong and Kylie Jill Adair of Australia.

“This was the first time I raced in the Hell of the Marianas,” Nadeau said. “I had heard so many great things about it. I kinda consider this a local race, even though it’s not on Guam, but it’s … really close to home, and it was fun to compete against people from all over the world.”

After a flat course for nearly two miles, riders tackled a steep hill climb. Known for her climbing, Nadeau opted for a more cautious approach, conserving her energy on the first hill to battle the latter part of the race. The grueling race is known for its steep, long climbs that face directly into strong headwinds. This year, the winds may have been even stronger compared to the previous years races due to a storm that had just passed through the area.

“I took it easy on the downhill descents because the roads were really slippery from the recent rain. I trailed the Japanese rider (Nakahara),” she said.

From there, she caught up to Guam Olympian Peter Lombard after the first descent.

“He coached me and rode in front of me to lessen the head wind,” she said. “He really helped me out. I want to credit him with a lot and being strategic to help me get ahead of the Nakahara.”

Nadeau was able to drop Nakahara during a flat stretch after the second climb approximately 10 miles into the race.

“She (Nakahara) looked like she was struggling and I was feeling good, so I was confident when I got in the lead and I could maintain it,” Nadeau said.

Faced with heat and more climbing, Nadeau said it became a fight against mental and physical exhaustion.

“I put everything into this race and my legs felt like they were going to seize up at any moment, especially during the last climb (Kingfisher),” she said. “But, thankfully that didn’t happen, and I was able to cross the finish line.”

Japan’s Nakahara took second place (3:36:05) in the female pro elite division followed by Australia’s Kylie Adair (3:36:47)

Nadeau’s next race will be the Guam Cycling Federation’s Tour of Guam, slated for this Sunday, Dec. 15.

In the HOM Men’s division, Kevin Biddiger (Australia) crossed the finish line in 2:57:02, followed by Slovenian Marko Pavlic (3:01:43) and Japanese Cyclisy Toshiki Nagatsuka (3:15:45). Guam’s top male finisher was fifth place finisher Jake Gimoto (3:24:14).