Final day of NMBS#2
Sugar Mountain, N.C. (June 11, 2006) – The final day of round two of the 2006 National Mountain Bike Series began Sunday as Australians Sam Hill and Tracey Hannah took the pro men’s and women’s titles in the downhill competition.
Hill rode last as the top qualifier in the field of 49 in a blistering time of 3 minutes and 28.7 seconds down a challenging course that included 2,500 feet of technical and rocky terrain. Hill’s time was more than 12 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s Justin Leov. Duncan Riffle (Santa Barbara, Calif. / Honda Ironhorse) was the top American finisher in third. Cole Bangert (Twin Lakes, Colo. / Morewood Bikes) and Justin Havukainen (Castro Valley, Calif. / Monster Energy) placed fourth and fifth respectively.
Eighteen-year old Hannah picked up her first-ever NMBS national title Sunday with her winning time of 4:28.6 – nearly ten seconds under pre-race favorite France’s Sabrina Jonnier who placed second. Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif. / Jamis) was the top American finisher in third. Joanna Petterson (Folson, Calif. / Morewood Bikes) and Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz. / KHS Bicycles) placed fourth and fifth to fill out the podium.
In the short track competition, Katerina Nash (CZE) and Geoff Kabush (CAN) claimed the women’s and men’s professional titles.
In a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Luna women’s team, Nash, along with teammates Jimena Florit (ARG), Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho) and Saturday’s cross country winner Shonny Vanlandingham took all but the final spot on the podium which went to Subaru-Gary Fisher’s Willow Koerber (Pisgah Forest, N.C.).
From left to right: Koerber, Florit, Nash, Gould and Vanlandingham
In her second lap into the 20-minute contest, Florit rode to a 20-second lead ahead of a chase pack that included her teammates, as well as Koerber and Sue Haywood (Harrisonburg, Va. / Trek/VW). Florit continued to hold the gap for seven more laps, but when time expired, the field of 48 had been whittled down to 15 and the rest of the Luna team had formed a chase group ten seconds behind Florit for the final three laps.
“When people hesitate to chase, you have to take advantage,” Florit said. “Even if you have to dig deeper than you want to and build a bigger gap to make people work, I hoped to get my teammates up the road later on. Once I knew it was all four of us, of course you want to finish as high as possible, but it didn’t matter at that point.”
At the top of the final lap, Nash – who Florit called the team’s “short-track star” - was able to catch Florit and pull ahead in the final section for the win.
“I just pushed it really hard on the last lap and I was hoping that I could catch Jimena, and I did at the very top. I knew that once you were first into the downhill, your chances are pretty good to keep it that way.”
On the men’s side, a much tighter crew of Saturday’s cross country champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo. / Subaru-Gary Fisher), Kabush, Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore. / Kona/LesGets) and Barry Wicks (Santa Cruz, Calif. / Kona/Les Gets) pulled away early from the pack of 65 riders and from stayed together for most of the race. After the initial 20-minutes and two laps into the final four, Trebon and Horgan-Kobelski had pulled away, but almost out of nowhere, Kabush pushed ahead for the win.
Kabush picked up a record tenth win Sunday.
“I was just kind of dangling in there because there were a lot of accelerations that were pretty hard, but I was just trying to save a bit of horsepower and let them open up the gaps,” Kabush said. “Kept clawing back and kept trying to save my legs for the effort on the last climb, but it doesn’t get much more exciting than that last lap.”
“We passed each other like three times on that last lap; we were pretty evenly matched,” Horgan-Kobelski said. “We were going neck-and-neck just the whole way up on that double track standing up in the big ring, but he snuck into the single track first and I buried it over the top and got him again on the downhill, but he got me on that last little pitch into the last corner.”
Kabush’s win Sunday gives him the most career short-track wins (10) for a men’s pro rider. Behind Kabush, Horgan-Kobelski, Trebon, Bishop and Wells rolled in to round out the podium.
The top finisher for the USA Cycling Under-23 team was Sam Schultz who finished 11th. Sam Jurekovic finished 16th and Colin Cares finished in 22nd.
The final eight of the men’s pro dual slalom continued their competition Sunday as the race was postponed Saturday due to a thunderstorm. Top-seeded Australian Jared Graves placed first on the men’s side and third-seeded Pruitt was the top finisher for the women.
“I was pretty disappointed with my results in the downhill today so I went back up to the house and sat there for awhile and thought ‘I’m going to go win the slalom, that will make me feel better,’” Pruitt said. “Each round I went though, I just remembered what I wanted to do, what was my goal, and just made sure I got down the hill first every time.”
The 2006 National Mountain Bike Series continues at Mt. Snow in West Dover, Vt. June 17-18.
For complete results and standings, visit www.norbanationals.com. A gallery with photos of the event will be online soon.
This Article Published June 11, 2006 For more information contact: