Posted by Editoress on 06/13/04
NORBA #4, West Virginia
Courtesy Andy Lee, USA Cycling
The 2004 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series resumed this weekend in rural West Virginia where several world-class athletes were on hand to contest the fourth round of the eight-race series. The results on the day offered a diverse combination of a first-time NORBA National winner in the men's race, and a seasoned veteran putting in yet another solid performance on American soil for a convincing victory in the women's race. Geoff Kabush, the steadily improving Canadian Olympic hopeful who took the overall win at the series opener in Waco, rode to his first ever win in a cross country event using a calculated last lap attack to take the win ahead of fellow Canadian Chris Sheppard and Adam Craig (Bangor, Maine). Shortly afterwards, Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) rode to her third NORBA cross country win of the season after wins in Waco and Sonoma, Calif. Dunlap and her Luna Chix teammates, Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) and Katerina Hanusova (CZE) swept the top three spots on the podium.
After heavy rains greeted riders during Friday's practice sessions, the threat of rain again loomed throughout the day, but held off making an already technical course manageable for the pro field. As the men set out for three laps of the seven-mile loop, a quick pace at the onset created a lead group of five riders that established themselves as the early favorites after the first descent. Overall series leader, Travis Brown (Durango, Colo.), U.S. Olympic hopeful, Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.), Paul Rowney (AUS), Craig and Sheppard formed a strong break that worked together throughout the first lap. Near the end of lap one, Kabush dangled about 20 seconds back from the leaders and slowly gained time up the final ascent that led to the finish line at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort. Throughout the next lap, Kabush held his position and the next time up the climb he latched on to the lead group and went to the front where he pushed the pace down the ensuing descent that began the third and final lap. After keeping the pressure on throughout the entirety of the final lap, Kabush gave it one final effort up the final ascent and pulled away from his competition securing his first-ever win in a NORBA National cross country race.
"I remember this race from last year," Kabush explained after the race. "People were so tired at the end because it's such a technical a demanding course, so I just rode a steady pace and kept bridging up to the lead group on the climbs. I had the plan all along of making my way to the front on the last lap. I kept it smooth on the final descent and held my lead at the bottom and then just turned it on."
Near the end of the final lap, pre-race favorite Bishop suffered a mechanical after a stick lodged in his wheel dismantling his rear derailleur. "I was right there 15 seconds behind Travis and was making an effort to close the gap when all of a sudden my rear wheel locked up. I looked down and a stick had completely taken out my derailleur."
In another great performance, Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.) of the U23 National team rode to a ninth place finish in front of a supportive hometown crowd. The top-ten finish in the pro race marks another successful moment for the team in its inaugural year.
In the women's race, Dunlap was hoping to erase the memory of last year's Snowshoe experience and replace it with a more favorable one. It was one year ago at this event where Dunlap suffered a season ending shoulder injury after a crash on the rain-slicked downhill section. The crash put a damper on her Olympic aspirations, but she has already put in a solid first half to the 2004 season as she tries to regain her position as the top mountain biker in the U.S.
From the gun, there was no doubt as to who was the strongest on the day. Returning to the U.S. after three weeks in Europe contesting the first three rounds of the World Cup series, both Dunlap and Vanlandingham quickly made their way to the front of race. And just behind was their teammate Hanusova. As the first lap came to a close, the Luna Chix trio led the next group of challengers, Dara Marks-Marino (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kerry Barnholt (Boulder, Colo.) and Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.).
The power up front only continued to pull away as Dunlap easily cruised home through the second and final lap ahead of Vanlandingham and Hanusova. Emmet and Marks-Marino held on for the final two podium spots placing fourth and fifth respectively.
In Dunlap's ongoing chase to secure UCI points necessary for Olympic selection, 20 points were gained for her victory today in the UCI E2 classified event.
On tap for Sunday is the short track race, a 20-minute timed event that starts fast and ends fast. Dunlap will look to add another 20 UCI points and Bishop will surely be out to redeem himself from today's mishap.
1. Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis
2. Chris Sheppard (Can) Haro-adidas
3. Adam Craig (USA)
4. Travis Brown (USA)
5. Ryan Trebon (USA)
1. Alison Dunlap (USA)
2. Shonny Vanlandingham, (USA)
3. Katerina Hanusova (Cze)
4. Kelli Emmett (USA)
5. Dara Marks-Marino (USA)
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