Weekend Recap: Team USA Earns Six Medals at the Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships
The 2019 Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships took place this weekend in Aguascalientes, Mexico where Team USA competed, racking up six medals and three new Pan-American Champion jerseys. The event started Thursday with the Team Relay. The U.S. Team of Riley Amos (Bear Development Team; Durango, Colo.), Haley Batten (Park City, Utah; Clif Pro Team), Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.; Specialized Bicycles Factory Racing Team), Luke Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C.; lukeVcoaching.com p/b Violich Farms) and Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo.; CZ Racing) earned the Silver Medal.
The next day saw the Junior races where Riley Amos placed second, earning his second silver medal of the competition.
“Pan-Ams was such an eye opening experience into the impact mountain biking has on people all over the World,” said Amos about his first Pan-American Championship, “The venue and fans here were something special you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Saturday was a full day of racing in the U23 and Elite categories starting with the U23 Women’s race where Haley Batten won gold followed by the U23 Men’s race where World Championship Silver Medalist, Christopher Blevins also took home the gold medal.
“Becoming the U23 Pan-American Champion is really special,” said Batten, “There were a lot of elements that needed to go right for a win like this and when all the pieces fall into place for a smooth race, it’s an incredible feeling. The support from USA Cycling has made it all possible and watching our team perform so well is amazing to be a part of.”
In the Elite Women’s race, World Champion Kate Courtney (San Francisco, Calif.; Scott-SRAM) pulled away during the second lap of five and never looked back, earning the Gold Medal in her first Elite Pan American Championships with teammate Erin Huck coming in second.
“I had an incredible experience at my first Elite Pan-American Championships,” said Courtney, “The crowds in Mexico were unbelievable and the challenging, technical course kept the racing exciting. For me, being able to go 1-2 with Erin Huck and have such a strong showing for the U.S. was a very special feeling.”
Team USA also competed in UCI C1 races the following day, earning six more medals. Riley Amos took the Gold in the Junior Category, Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah; Stan's-Pivot Pro Team p/b Maxxis) and Christopher Blevins went 1-3 in the Elite Men’s Category and the dynamic duo of Kate Courtney and Erin Huck earned another gold and silver medal respectively in the Elite Women’s field.
The female finishes as well as the silver medal in the team relay at Pan-Ams gained Team USA valuable UCI Points towards the moving them into the second position for Nations Rankings, which will help secure spots for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (the top two nations are given three start spots, nations three through seven are given two start spots, and the rest have one).
"For me, being able to go 1-2 with Erin Huck and have such a strong showing for the U.S. was a very special feeling.” -Kate Courtney, 2019 Pan-American Champion
Back in the states as well as Europe, other Americans had top performances over the weekend.
USA Cycling National Team track athletes Jennifer Valente and Colby Lange took a page out of teammate, Ashton Lambie’s book and swapped the velodrome for gravel, winning the women’s and men’s Pro Races at American Road Calendar event, Boulder Roubaix
In Cary, N.C., Americans swarmed the podium at the N.C. BMX Series Stop II, a C1 UCI BMX Freestyle Event. On the men’s side, Ryan Nyquist took bronze, while U.S. riders swept the women’s podium with Hannah Roberts, Chelsea Wolfe, and Perris Benegas coming in 1-2-3 respectively.
In the second event of the ProGRT, the NW Cup in Port Angeles, Wash.,
Kiliani Hines took the gold in Pro Women’s Race while Charlie Harrison won gold for the men.
USA Cycling National Team Member and Individual Pursuit World Record Holder Chloe Dygert-Owen proved she was back in top form after taking nearly a year off due to a concussion at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayettville, Ark., racing with her trade team Sho-Air Twenty20 and winning stages 1 and 4 as well as the overall GC.
National Team Member, Brandon McNulty earned his first pro victory in Europe with trade team Rally-UHC Pro Cycling by soloing to a win in Stage 3 of the Giro di Sicilia to take a 59 second GC lead. During the final stage he finished fourth 14 seconds behind the stage winner keeping the overall GC and becoming the first American GC winner in the race’s 24-year history.
Megan Jastrab and the USA Cycling Junior Women Development Squad also made waves for a third weekend in a row. They continued their dominance on the European stage over the weekend by entering a small men’s kermesse in Belgium during their off-weekend in the middle of their spring Nation’s Cup campaign where they are currently ranked as the top nation. Jastrab placed third in a field of 82 men.
American Rider Robin Carpenter of Rally-UHC Pro Cycling placed second at la Roue Tourangelle in France.
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