June 21/03 5:09 am - NORBA #3 XC
Posted by Editoress on 06/21/03
NORBA #3 Mount Snow, Vermont
Courtesy USA Cycling
Todayâ€šs cross-country event at round three of the NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series in Mount Snow, Vermont featured already established superstars, and those in the making. Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, CA; Seven Cycles) put her stamp on the mountain bike scene today, besting top competition while World Champion, Roland Green held off rising stars for a hard fought win.
One of the mainstays on the NORBA NCS circuit, Mt. Snow never fails to attract a quality field, and this year was no different. Green (CAN; Trek-Volkswagen), World Cup Champion, Filip Meirhaeghe (BEL; Specialized), U.S. Champion, Jeremy Horgan Kobelski (Boulder, CO; RLX-Ralph Lauren), and current NORBA points leader, Ryder Hesjedal (CAN; Subaru-Gary Fisher) highlighted todayâ€šs field, their presence alone guaranteeing a fierce battle.
The menâ€šs race started off as fast as the quality of the field suggested it would. After the first lap of the 5.5 mile circuit throughout Mt. Snow resort, it was Seamus McGrath (CAN; Haro-Lee Dungarees) who led the charge, instigating a break of three riders which also included Green and Hesjedal. A chasing Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, VA; Trek-Volkswagen) put the pressure on the leaders from behind attempting to bridge the gap.
By the end of lap two, Hesjedal had fallen off the pace as Green and McGrath continued to motor up front. Bishop, continued his breakthrough ride, overtaking Hesjedal and sliding into the third position.
Shortly after the riders began the bell lap, Green opened up a slight gap on McGrath with Bishop and Hesjedal working to close the gap to the leaders. That slight gap was all that Green needed. Maintaining the slightest of margins throughout the last lap, Green held on for the victory a mere eight seconds ahead of McGrath, with Bishop staying away from Hesjedal for third place.
Explaining his ability to maintain his gap over McGrath in the last lap, Green said, â€žThere were lots of roots today, I had good tires and low pressure. â€žNo matter what, when it rains here, thereâ€šs no course harder. Itâ€šs treacherous when itâ€šs wet. Like last year, on the last lap, the gaps grew.â€°
Many wondered what happened to Hesjedal, who was not in his usual top spot on the podium. â€žYou canâ€št be super everydayâ€°, he said. â€žIâ€šm happy with fourth, obviously Iâ€šm riding with the overall series as the main agenda. When you lead races from start to finish, it takes a lot out of you. You canâ€št expect to always be in front with a fresh Roland and Seamus is always hungry.â€°
In the womenâ€šs event, McConneloug spent the first lap of the race making up ground lost to the three early leaders, Jimena Florit (ARG; RLX Ralph Lauren), Willow Koerber (Ashville, NC; RLX Ralph Lauren) and Alison Sydor (CAN; Trek Volkswagen), who quickly opened up a gap early in the race. After making contact with the leaders, McConneloug seized the opportunity and rolled the dice in an effort to then distance herself from the trio, using the climbs to her advantage.
News quickly came from the announcers that McConneloug maintained a solo lead on the back side of the course, but as the women made their way through the start/finish for the third and final lap, it was Sydor who had reclaimed the lead with McConneloug just 10 seconds back followed by Florit and Koerber.
With the crowd seemingly willing McConneloug to make her breakthrough, she didnâ€št disappoint. After Sydor used the descents to put some time into McConneloug, it was the latter who used the ascents late in the course to retake the lead for good, holding on all the way to the finish for her first NORBA NCS victory.
â€žI felt awesomeâ€°, McConneloug said during the post-race interview. â€žThat was incredible. I knew the course and the climbing really well, I felt great today, and this morning I thought to myself Å’Iâ€šm not going to be nervous, Iâ€šm really going to relish this experience and enjoy it as it is and stay calm.â€°
Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, CO; Luna Chix) unfortunately did not compete today after undergoing surgery on Thursday for a fourth degree separation of her shoulder suffered in last weekendâ€šs NORBA NCS race in Snowshoe, WV. Word from the Luna Chix team camp is that Dunlapâ€šs season is likely over while she recovers and looks ahead to 2004.
In yesterdayâ€šs mountain cross qualifying round, Eric Carter (Temecula, CA; Mongoose/Hyundai) and Sabrina Jonnier (FRA; Intesne) secured the number one seeds in the menâ€šs and womenâ€šs events respectively. Carter posted a time of 30.76 seconds, edging out Gary Houseman (Temecula, CA; Intense) for the honors, while Jonnier bested Katrina Miller (AUS; Jamis) with a time of 33.22. The mountain cross finals will be contested at 5:00pm EST this afternoon.