Pam Schuster of Northridge pulled away from the pack early and held on despite a late challenge and sapping heat to win her first bicycling championship Saturday in the U.S. Elite National Road Race.
Schuster led for the final 44 miles of the hilly, 64-mile race through Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. A group of four riders finished a minute behind, with Kendra Wenzel--a Saeco-Timex teammate from McKenzie Bridge, Ore.--taking second.
Only 19 of the 67 starters finished the race, held in 90-degree temperatures with high humidity. At least two riders needed medical attention for dehydration.
Schuster wasn't bothered by the weather after she made her early move and opened a lead of more than two minutes.
"I grew up in Colorado and live in California," she said. "We don't know what humidity is. I didn't really think about it."
The race was held on an 8.7-mile loop that took riders on a bridge across the Ohio River to northern Kentucky, back across the river to a hilly park, then downtown once again.
Schuster pulled ahead of the field on the third of the eight climbs through Eden Park and gradually increased her lead.
A group of five riders cut the lead to 50 seconds on the last lap, but Schuster was strong enough to hold on with a time of 2:57:32.