Posted by Editoress on 05/7/06
NORBA XC/DH #1 Fontana, CA
The opening round of the 2006 National Mountain Bike Series concluded on Sunday as Canadian riders swept the pro short track events and Cody Warren (Dub Racing) and South Africa's Joanna Petterson captured pro downhill titles.
Highlighted by a technically challenging course at Southridge Park, the day's competition produced a pair of highly decorated winners from north of the border as three-time world champion Alison Sydor and Saturday's cross country victor Geoff Kabush outpaced their respective fields to grab wins the women's and men's short track races.
Riding for the Rocky Mountain Business Objects squad, Sydor was one of several riders that dominated the pace in the women's race on a unique short track course that included an ascent up Saturday's mountain cross track. Early on in the 20-minute contest, Sue Haywood (Trek VW) was one of several riders to set a tone that quickly whittled the 56-rider field down to 14 contenders as she pushed the pace up the first series of climbs.
As riders continued to slowly fall off the pace, only Sydor, Haywood and Luna teammates Shonny Vanlandingham Georgia Gould and 2005 National Mountain Bike Series overall champion Katerina Nash (Cze) remained in contention. At a numerical disadvantage, Sydor relied on her form and power to exit the final ascent in the lead to assure herself the win on a course that left no room for error before the final corner.
"It was a very hard course today - physically and technically - and I thought it was best to be out in front," explained Sydor. "It felt like I had a little extra power. I felt so good going up that climb that I knew I could just slack off a little and attack a second time. I had to be first up that hill and leading into the finish. After that there's no realistic place to pass."
Nash held on to take second as Haywood was the top American finisher in third place. Saturday's cross country winner Vanlandingham was fourth and Gould rounded out the podium in fifth.
"It was an exciting race, but not as selective as I thought," commented Haywood. Just looking at the hill I thought it would really break up. "I wanted to be up that hill first on the last lap, but that didn't happen so I just kind of rolled in for third at that point because there's no passing after the descent."
In the men's event, last season's overall short track champion took his second victory of the weekend as Team Maxxis' Kabush bested a 73-rider field to take the win ahead of Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru Gary Fisher).
As in the women's race, the field was quickly pared down to a list of worthy contenders as Todd Wells (GT-Hyundai), Jeremiah Bishop (Trek VW), Carl Decker (Giant), Ryan Trebon (Kona-Les Gets) and Adam Craig (Giant) remained in the mix late in the race with Kabushand Horgan-Kobelski.
In the end, a tactically savvy Kabush gapped his contenders, proving he was the strongest rider on the day.
"It was me, Trebon and Todd in the end who were really pulling the pace," explained Kabush. I knew Todd was going to be strong after yesterday as long as his arm was okay. I knew he was a danger with three or so laps to go, so I was kind of keying off him."
After crashing in the race's final corner on Saturday, Horgan-Kobelski had to settle for silver for the second day in a row.
"I kind of knew there were going to be a lot of people in contention, but I wanted to stay near the front and I actually felt like I was way below my limit all day, kind of saving it for those last couple laps," said Horgan-Kobelski after the race. "Going into that last lap, I slid a little too far back and kind of ran out of room to make a move to win, which was what I was going to try and do, but Kabush rode a really strong final lap and a half."
Sam Schultz was the top competitor for USA Cycling's Under-23 National Team on Saturday with a solid 11th-place finish. Schultz spent most of the day dangling off the back of the leaders and wasn't quite able to bridge the gap from an earlier chase group.
"I'm at a position now where I'm always getting stuck between the lead group and the chase group so it's a wash when the chase is on," said Schultz. "I just need to learn to bridge that gap from the chase group."
Sam Jurekovic and Colin Cares also competed for the U23 National Team as Jerekovic placed 19th and Cares did not finish.
1. Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis
2. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru Gary Fisher
1. Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mountain Business Objects
2. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Women's MTB
In the pro downhill competition, pre-race favorites Warren and Petterson claimed the men's and women's titles respectively.
Warren ran the course first due to a disaster-ridden qualifying run that qualified the defending national champion last among the field of 48 riders. Warren, however, avenged that performance by completing the downhill course in 2 minutes, 14.6 seconds, just .4 seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Canadian Jeff Beatty.
"On the seeding run I flatted on the track about a third of the way down on the steeper section, fell, and I struggled quite a bit since I couldn't really pedal really great with a front flat," Warren explained. "I came back with a little bit of drive, wanted to do good, and ended up doing good. It was close, because Geritt's qualifying time was a second more than what I did and I was kind of hoping it would hold up, and it did."
Amiel Cavalier (Aus), Jared Rando (Aus) and Justin Havukainen (USA) rounded out the men's podium respectively.
On the women's side, top qualifier Petterson easily took the women's title in 2 minutes and 37.9 seconds, just shy of ten seconds ahead of April Lawyer (Maxxis) who finished second.
Wendy Reynolds, Kote Driscoll and Jackie Harmony grabbed the final three podium spots.
1. Cody Warren (USA) Dub Racing
2. Jeff Beatty (Can)
3. Amiel Cavalier (Aus)
4. Jared Rando (Aus)
5. Justin Havukainen (USA)
1. Joanna Petterson (RSA)
2. April Lawyer (USA) Maxxis
3. Wendy Reynolds (USA)
4. Kote Driscoll (USA)
5. Jackie Harmony (USA)
The 2006 National Mountain Bike Series continues at Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk, N.C. June 10-11.
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