Posted by Editoress on 08/8/04
NORBA #7 Snowmass, Colorado
Courtesy USA Cycling
Three Olympians used today's cross-country event as final preparation for Athens
Round seven of the NORBA National Championship Series continued Saturday afternoon with the cross-country race that served as the final preparation for three Olympic athletes before heading to Athens.
Todd Wells reigned supreme in the men's contest, and was awarded with his first career cross-country crown. Jimena Florit took the honor in the women's race for the first time since last season.
The men lined up first for two laps of the 13 mile course. With 3000 feet of climbing per lap, the field was spread out by the end of lap one.
About half way through the first lap, Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) and U.S. Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) broke off the front and worked together sharing the lead. The second member on the men's Olympic mountain bike squad, Todd Wells, rode about 30 seconds behind.
As lap one came to a close, the chasers included Aussie Trent Lowe, Adam Craig (Corinth, Maine), Carl Swenson (Gunnison, Colo.), Jimi Mortenson (Eagle, Colo.), Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.), Travis Brown (Boulder, Colo.), Geoff Kabush (CAN) and Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.).
Lap two saw Todd Wells power to the front and take over the lead, showing great strength going into this month's Olympic Games. Kabush, Lowe, and Craig lessened their distance to the race leaders.
As Wells came into sight, the crowd cheered him on to his first career cross-country victory. JHK followed in second, and Kabush in third. The top three all finished in under two hours. Trent Lowe and Adam Craig rounded out the podium in 4th and 5th respectively.
The women toed the line next for a similar course. In lap one, Argentine Olympian Jimena Florit led after the initial climb, a position she never relinquished. Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), the series leader going into the seventh round, was the only one able to maintain the pace, as Florit only kept a 15 second gap on Vanlandingham.
Willow Koerber broke off from the chase group and tried to bridge the gap to the series leader and her teammate. She never caught them, but was able to maintain a respectable distance behind the two.
As the women rounded out their final lap on the brutal course, the crowd wondered if Florit had been able to sustain her position. Sure enough, she crossed through the start/finish in first place, taking her first win since last year.
Vanlandingham, who had chased for the entire race, powered across the line next. Her effort, though impressive, was not enough to maintain her lead in the overall standings. Florit now holds that distinction.
Koerber, who has become an outright contender for wins this season, came in by herself in third. Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Gretchen Reeves (Boulder, Colo.) claimed the final spots on the podium in fourth and fifth respectively.
After the winners were recognized on the podium, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells, and Jimena Florit gathered on stage as the crowd cheered and sent them off to Athens with best wishes.
1. Todd Wells (USA) GT-Hyundai
2. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) RLX Ralph Lauren
3. Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis
4. Trent Lowe (Aus) Yeti
5. Adam Craig (USA) Giant- Pearlizumi
1. Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis
2. Travis Brown (USA) Trek VW
3. Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona Clarks
4. Chris Sheppard (Can) Haro-adidas
5. Jay Henry (USA) Specialized
1. Jimena Florit (Arg) RLX Ralph Lauren
2. Shonny Vanlandingham (USA)
3. Willow Koerber (USA) Luna Women's MTB
4. Alison Dunlap (USA) Luna Women's MTB
5. Gretchen Reeves (USA) Rocky Mountain Business Objects
1. Jimena Florit (Arg) RLX Ralph Lauren
2. Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) Luna Women's MTB
2. Alison Dunlap (USA) Luna Women's MTB
4. Willow Koerber (USA) RLX Ralph Lauren
5. Kelli Emmett (USA) Specialized
A large crowd gathered for the afternoon's final event - the pro men's and women's mountain cross finals. Leana Gerrard (Sumner, Wash.) put her stamp on the weekend by taking her very first win in the women's contest, while Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.) continued his success and claimed his second consecutive victory this year.
In the women's race, the final riders left after elimination rounds were Leana Gerrard, Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.), and Jill Kintner (Murrieta, Calif.).
The technical course claimed the usual favorite, Jill Kintner, in the second turn, leaving the first place distinction up to Gerrard, Llanes, or Buhl. The three stayed shoulder-to-shoulder, through the last half of the course. Gerrard took a decisive lead on the home stretch and made the final jump to post her first career mountain cross win.
The consolation round saw Marla Streb (Los Osos, Calif.) make the winning effort for the final spot on the podium, edging out teammate Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.).
In the men's final, Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.) lined up against Brian Lopes (Murrieta, Calif.), Rich Houseman (Pasadena, Calif.), and Brian Schmith (Lancaster, Calif.). Carter took a slight lead coming out of the second turn and the group of four stayed together going into the third. When Houseman got tangled up, Carter's lead increased while Lopes and Schmith chased him down.
Carter was followed across the finish line by Lopes and then Schmith. Houseman, who had already secured a podium spot, took it easy the rest of the way down. Mike King (San Diego, Calif.) bested his competitors in the consolation round to claim fifth place.
Action wraps up tomorrow with the short track, downhill, and Super D events. The Shimano Kid's Race will take place between the men's and women's short track races. After tomorrow, NORBA fans and riders will wait three weeks for the Series finals in Durango, Colo., where Series winners will be crowned.
1. Eric Carter (USA) Mongoose-Hyundai
2. Brian Lopes (USA)
3. Brian Schmith (USA)
4. Rich Houseman (USA)
5. Mike King (USA) Haro-adidas
1. Leana Gerrard (USA) Cannondale
2. Tara Llanes (USA) Giant-Pearl Izumi
3. Melissa Buhl (USA) KHS Bicycles
4. Jill Kintner (USA) Yeti
5. Marla Streb (USA) Luna Women's MTB
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