Canadian Cyclist


October 27/08 1:44 am - Carter and Buhl take overall at Jeep 48STRAIGHT Finale

Posted by Editoress on 10/27/08

Jeep 48STRAIGHT Championships Final October 25th, The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California


The men's Championship Heat of Saturday's Jeep 48STRAIGHT Mountain Bike Series at The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, Calif., featured two of the most acclaimed racers in the history of the sport - Eric Carter of Temecula and Brian Lopes of Laguna Beach - with over 60 years of experience between them. Lopes, with four World Championships and nine National Championships ended up outlasting his friend and rival to win the individual event title, but Carter, with a World Championship, two National Championships and over 30 career victories under his belt, earned the season championship based on this race and previous stops in New Jersey and Utah.

In what was labeled one of the deepest fields in the history of Jeep mountain bike racing, Carter would need every ounce of experience accrued during his career to maneuver through a bracket loaded with the world's top-ranked riders. And as one of the longest tenured Jeep racers, having competed in just about every race over the past six years, Carter knew it would take clean runs, some good breaks and the ability to avoid injury to capture the prize that had eluded him for so long.

"It's funny because I didn't feel so good on the course, and never really felt I had my rhythm, but I guess I was riding a lot faster than I thought because I had some good runs and knocked off some great competitors," said Carter. "I had to bust tail to get this done and am kind of blown away that I was able to execute like I know how. I'm somewhat speechless because I've been trying to get this title for six years now."

The first two rounds saw him get past Open Qualifier Logan Binggeli of St. George, Utah, and the surprising Open Qualifier Mike Haderer of Concord, Calif., who pulled the day's biggest upset by taking down Alpine, Calif.'s Cody Warren, a National Champion and winner of the first Jeep race of the season in New Jersey. In the semi-finals, Carter would have to contend with three-time World Cup Champion Greg Minnaar of South Africa, who won the second Jeep race in Utah. After losing the first heat, Carter stormed back to top Minnaar and earn a spot in the finals. Lopes day was equally brilliant, with wins over Open Qualifier Joey Backus of Mesa, Ariz., National Champion Rich Houseman of Temecula and four-time Australian National Champion Jared Rando. With the season championship in hand, Carter fought off injury to give Lopes a run for his money, but couldn't get the win. In the consolation heat Minnaar outlasted Rando to capture the final spot on the podium.

"I felt really strong at practice on Friday and came in first in the qualifier, which gave me a lot of confidence heading into today's race," said Lopes, who was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame earlier this year and will soon be accepted into the BMX Hall of Fame. "I have really high expectations for myself, and was disappointed with how I did in the first race of the season. I wanted to redeem myself, and coming out here today against this caliber of athletes and getting the win feels really good."

In the women's competition, Chandler, Ariz.'s Melissa Buhl put an exclamation point on a brilliant Jeep season that saw her finish second in New Jersey and first in Utah, not to mention earning the U.S. National Championship and the World Championship. Her second place finish in San Luis Obispo earned her the season championship, and further solidified her standing as one of the most dominant racers in the sport. Buhl earned victories over Leslie Slagle of El Cajon, Calif., and Lisa Myklak of Boulder, Colo., before reaching the Championship Heat against Fionn Griffiths of Great Britain. Griffiths, a three-time World Cup winner who has never missed a Jeep race during the event's six year history, was dominant throughout the day, beginning with a win over Folsom, Calif.'s Joanna Peterson and a subsequent stunner over season points leader and National Champion Kathy Pruitt of Santa Cruz, Calif., to reach the finals. Griffiths pulled out the victory over Buhl to earn the individual event title. Pruitt topped Myklak in the consolation heat to earn third place.

"I felt confident today because I really liked the speed and layout of the course, which matches my race style," said Buhl. "This whole season has been amazing for me, and is by far the best I've ever ridden. I am having a great time, and I know that I'll now have a target on my back and I'll have to work harder and harder to stay at this level."

The title winner at San Luis Obispo received $5,000, with cash earnings for each finisher through 16th place. The season champion received additional sponsor bonuses from Paul Mitchell and the keys to a new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Overall, the prize purse for Jeep 48STRAIGHT topped $100,000, making it one of the highest cash payouts in the sport.

The Jeep 48STRAIGHT event from San Luis Obispo will air on CBS Sports on November 1.

1 Brian Lopes (USA) Oakley/Ibis100
2 Eric Carter (USA) Mongoose90
3 Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz80
4 Jared Rando (Aus) Giant70
5 Kyle Strait (USA) Specialized60
6 Rich Houseman (USA) Yeti50
7 J.D. Swanguen (USA)40
8 Mike Haderer (USA)30
9 Cody Warren (USA)20
10 Peter Hanak (USA)20
11 Mitch Ropelato (USA)20
12 Logan Binggeli (USA)20
13 Neko Mulally (USA)20
14 Amiel Cavalier (USA)20
15 Brad Oien (USA)20
16 Joey Backus (USA)20
1 Fionn Griffiths (GBr) Norco200
2 Melissa Buhl (USA) KHS180
3 Kathy Pruitt (USA) Jamis160
4 Lisa Myklak (USA) Black Market140
5 Michelle Rivera (USA) Steven K120
6 Stephanie Nychka (USA)100
7 Joanna Peterson (USA)80
8 Leslie Slagle (USA)60

Full ladders

Final Overall Standings

1 Eric Carter (USA) Mongoose

1 Melissa Buhl (USA) KHS


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