July 22/01 9:01 am - Mammoth Short Track Report
Posted by Editor on 07/22/01
Mammoth Norba #4 Short Track Report
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. (July 21, 2001) - Roland Green and Alison Dunlap overcame a strong wind to complete solo victories in their respective pro cross-country short track races today. After an eventful race, the lead in the men's short track series changed, with Boulder, Colo. resident Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (RLX-Polo Sport) taking over the top spot.
Racing in the half-hour format on a swerving and curving course that included a bridge over the home stretch, the women's field started into a bristling headwind. "The wind kind of helps because it slowed down the girls in the paceline. But when you did go off the front, it was pretty tough," said Dunlap.
Early in the race Dunlap, Jimena Florit, Argentina (RLX Polo Sport), Chrissy Redden, Canada (Gary Fisher/Subaru) and Mary Grigson, Australia (Gary Fisher/Subaru), each peppered the front with attacks and whittled the lead group down to 11.
With about 10 minutes left in the event, timed at 20 minutes plus three laps, Dunlap and Florit made a series of attacks that dispensed with Grigson. Dunlap surged again and reduced the leaders to Audrey Augustin, Williston, Vt. (Zeal/GT), Ruthie Matthes, Durango, Colo. (Trek Volkswagen) and Florit.
With danger-woman Redden gone, the leaders attacked again to keep it that way, and with only a lap and half to go, Matthes found the power to push to the front as the bell sounded for the final lap. Her move put everybody in the red zone as they pushed into the wind. Everybody except Dunlap, who counter-attacked hard, leaving the lead group strung out behind.
Dunlap carried a large lead into the home stretch. Florit snared second from Matthes, with Augustin in fourth. Shonny Vanlandingham (SoBe/Headshok), who fought to reach the lead group, rolled across the line in fifth place.
Having watched flags rip and the women's field shred in the wind, the men's race started in a similar vein: cautious pressure at the front early on with sporadic attacks. From the gun, Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, (Gary Fisher/Subaru) roared to the front with Carl Swenson, Boulder, Colo. (RLX Polo Sport).
In the windy conditions, nobody made a significant move until the halfway point of the race. Then two incidents - one positive and the other not - blew the race apart.
First, Roland Green, Canada (Trek Volkswagen) attacked hard. "It's important on a course like this to establish a lead. With all the tight corners it was good to be alone. Once you're out of sight of pack they get less motivated to chase," said Green, who took Hesjedal with him into a small lead.
Second, series leader Ryder Hesjedal, Canada (Gary Fisher/Subaru), crashed hard. "I was right behind him. It was right when we went from the pavement to the dirt and all of a sudden he was just down and hard. I don't know what caused it," said Green.
Visibly shaken, Hesjedal got up from the crash, remounted his bike, and then rolled off the course. Team officials said he was taken to a hospital just to check for any serious injury.
Meanwhile, Hesjedal's training parter and fellow Victorian, Roland Green, blew open a 20-second hole at the front of the field, which changed the nature of the race. Suddenly everybody else was racing for second. "He got that gap really fast," said Horgan-Kobelski. "We got to the corner on the pavement and we couldn't even see him. I think that it felt pretty evenly matched in the pack and nobody wanted to take a chance of towing the whole pack up to him."
Even for Green the ease with which he dispensed with his competition was a revelation. "I'm at a new level of fitness. I just feel like I've brought my game up 10 notches," he said only a day after crushing the field in the cross-country.
As the race boiled down to a final lap charge for second place, Green rolled in comfortably for the win. The crowd hung over the barricades to watch to tight final turn as a bunch of nearly 20 riders lined up for the elbows-out lunge for the line. Having grown up racing kermesses, 1996 Olympic champion, Bart Brentjens, The Netherlands (Giant) powered down the back straight to get a good position for the sprint. "I know a little about bike racing," he said. "You have to be at the front."
"I was in fifth place going into that last turn and I was going to try to get by everybody. And I managed to get by everybody except Bart (Brentjens)." said Horgan-Kobelski. Brentjens got second, Horgan-Kobelski third, and Pavel Cherkassov, Russia (Gary Fisher/Subaru) fought through the elbows for fourth. Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees), despite a poor start, powered through for fifth.
After the race, every racer in the place conceded that Green was the best guy in the house. But Green demurred on whether he was the best mountain bike racer in the world. "There's so many. You watch the World Cups and you see how tight it is. It's just 1 or 2 percent that
separate us. For the last three weeks I have had good form if not the results to show for it. This weekend is a good way to make up for the last few weekends." That seemed like a polite way of saying "maybe."
1. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, 634 points
2. Jose Adrian Bonilla, 620
3. Roland Green, 574
4. Carl Swenson, 570
5. Paul Rowney, 558
1. Jimena Florit, 756 points
2. Susan Haywood, 660
3. Chrissy Redden, 646
4. Shonny Vanlandingham, 608
5. Mary Grigson, 594