Posted by Editor on 06/15/03
Norba National Short Track #2 - Snowshoe, West Virginia
Snowshoe, WV (June 15, 2003) American National Champion, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, CO; RLX-Ralph Lauren) and Canadian Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) each took home short track gold this afternoon on a rain ravaged course in the final day of competition at round two of the NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike Series in Snowshoe, WV.
A steady drizzle that began in the morning lasted throughout the event, adding another challenging element onto an already demanding course. The philosophy in both the men's and women's races was simple, stay at the front and away from any potential trouble that might arise from the sloppy conditions.
With that in mind, the women's race opened at a rapid pace, and it wasn't long until the slick course claimed its first victim. A lap one crash hindered the efforts of defending champ and yesterday's winner, Jimena Florit (ARG; RLX Ralph Lauren) who got caught behind, creating an impossible gap to close in such a short distance. With Florit at the back of the pack, and Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, CO; Luna Chix) not starting due to injury, the race was animated by Melanie McQuaid (CAN; Ford Outfitters), Sue Haywood (Davis, WV; Trek-Volkswagen), and Redden, who managed to put themselves in the lead of group of ten riders. Also in the mix were Luna Chix teammates, Katerina Hanusova (CZE) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, CO) making up for the absence of Dunlap.
As the pace in the break maintained its intensity, attacks out of the group failed until Haywood attacked on the slight climb just after the start-finish area with two laps remaining. Only Redden could match Haywood's effort as she gave chase and tacked on. As the duo reached the last corner 100 meters from the finish, Haywood appeared to have the victory wrapped up until a slight slip on the pavement and a surge by Redden dashed Haywood's hopes. Redden took full advantage of the mishap and out-sprinted Haywood to the line for the top spot on the podium.
A humble Haywood explained the last corner after the race. "I was over-geared, in way too big of a gear. And I went to shift like I did every other time [in the corner] and my hand slipped off the shifter. I couldn't get up out of the corner."
Redden, emphasizing the difficulty to make a pass, benefited from an opportunistic move. "In the last two laps Sue and I knew that I couldn't get around her. She had made a mistake in the last corner a couple of times before, so I took a different line than her, thinking it's my only opportunity, and she fumbled there and left the door wide open and I was ready for it."
Missing from today's competition was Dunlap, who suffered a crash on a downhill section of yesterday's cross country event. Dunlap's crash resulted in a third degree separation of her shoulder. The 2001 World Champion is hoping to be back in action for the fourth round of the NORBA NCMBS at Schweitzer Mountain, ID, July 24-28.
The men's event would once again mirror the women's in terms of strategy as 58 men lined up in the rain for the start. As expected, the pace was high, and after ten minutes of racing, eight riders made the front selection led by Seamus McGrath (CAN; Haro-Lee Dungarees) who spent much of the race off the front of the group which included yesterday's winner, Ryder Hesjedal (CAN; Subaru-Gary Fisher), Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells (Durango, CO; Mongoose-Hyundai), Chris Sheppard (CAN; Haro-Lee Dungarees), Geoff Kabush (CAN; Kona-Clark), Paul Rowney (AUS; Sobe-Cannondale), and Travis Brown (Boulder, CO; Trek-Volkswagen).
McGrath stayed away from his chasers until Kabush led the group back, only to see McGrath and Kabush create a break of their own. On the short climb, with four laps remaining, Hesjedal put in a fierce attack bringing the original group back together. As time dwindled, Brown tried his hand at an attack, but it was Horgan-Kobelski's effort with two laps to go that stuck. Creating an insurmountable gap, Horgan-Kobelski held on for the win as he soloed across the line for his first ever NORBA NCMBS short track victory.
"Seamus was off for a bit and the pace never let up. Travis attacked when I went by him. I put in hard surge and got a small gap, then I heard three laps to go and I decided I would go for broke from there to the finish. I just kept my head down and held about a five second gap, I surprised myself because I was dead at the end", Horgan-Kobelski explained of his late race move that resulted in victory."
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