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July 18/05 10:41 am - Norba Idaho: Short Track and DH reports and results (brief)


Posted by Editoress on 07/18/05
 

NORBA #4 Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho
Courtesy USA Cycling

Round four of the 2005 Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series concluded on Sunday as Sue Haywood and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski rode to wins in the short track cross country events and Andrew Neethling and Bernardita Pizarro Lazo descended to downhill victories.

Haywood earned a well-deserved victory after putting forth an all-out effort from the outset of the 20-minute timed event. From the gun, Haywood played the role of aggressor as she dangled off the front of the field, setting the high pace characteristic of a short track event. With the field stretched out behind her in pursuit, several pre-race favorites remained within striking distance including Willow Koerber, Dara Marks-Marino, Heather Irmiger and current series leader Katerina Hanusova.

At mid-race, Haywood's 10-second gap on the small group of chasers held steady and eventually Marks-Marino started to close the gap on her own. With each passing lap, Marks-Marino managed to make up a second or two on Haywood as it appeared as though Haywood's ultra-aggressive style would give way to the perpetual pace of her unremitting pursuer. The race proved to be one lap too short for Marks-Marino however as Haywood held her off by just two seconds at the finish line.

Despite Haywood's win, she remains in second place in the overall short track points standings thanks to a solid third-place effort from Hanusova on the day. Currently, the point standings favor Hanusova over Haywood 689 to 665.

In an equally exciting men's short track race, Horgan-Kobelski moved into the overall series lead with his win on Sunday after the series leader entering the event, Todd Wells, fell victim to a flat tire and did not finish.

Shortly after the 20-minute event began, a group of six riders clearly established themselves as the race leaders. Horgan-Kobelski was joined by Geoff Kabush, Adam Craig, Chris Sheppard, Ryan Trebon and Saturday's cross country winner Liam Killeen as the group pedaled away from the remainder of the starters.

As the race reached the halfway point, it was clear the victor would come from this group, and as each rider looked strong and took his turn at the front, there was no clear-cut favorite amongst them.

In the closing laps, the pace was pushed first by Trebon - an effort that put Craig and Sheppard on the rivet. Kabush then took over the pacemaking and only Horgan-Kobleksi and Killeen were able to hold the wheel of the Canadian as the trio entered the final lap.

Destined for a sprint, Horgan-Kobelski took the lead and a chaotic backstretch littered with lapped riders caused enough of a slight encumbrance to affect the positioning of the podium contenders as they set themselves up for the final hairpin turn. Horgan-Kobelski was first around the turn and held off Killeen to take the win while Kabush placed third.

Horgan-Kobelski held a one-point advantage on Kabush prior to Sunday's event, but after its conclusion Horgan-Kobelski now sits atop the short track standings with a 610-590 lead over his Canadian rival.

While endurance riders hit the halfway mark in the series, gravity riders competed in just their second NORBA National of the year. In Sunday's downhill competition, the men's category saw a first time winner as South African rider Andrew Neethling edged his countryman and former world champion Greg Minnaar (RSA) by one tenth of a second for the win.

Neethling clocked a time of 4 minutes 19.83 seconds.

Minnaar was on pace to claim the lead as the penultimate rider down the mountain, but a late-run crash dashed his hopes and ensured a win for Neethling.

Cody Warren earned his first-ever NORBA downhill podium with a fifth-place effort as the top American finisher. Warren's fifth-place effort on Sunday, along with his fourth-place finish in Saturday's mountain cross event and his victory in the dual slalom last month, puts him on the map as the next in a long-line of talented American gravity riders.

In the women's downhill, Lazo nearly cracked the five-minute barrier with a winning time of 5:00.75 to best runner-up Kathy Pruitt by seven seconds.

In the ultra-endurance category, Jay Henry beat Chris Eatough in the men's marathon with a winning time of 3 hours, 30 minutes and 32 seconds.

Monique Sawicki won the women's marathon.


Short Track

Men

1. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher
2. Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized
3. Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis

Women

1. Sue Haywood (USA) Trek-VW
2. Dara Marks-Marino (USA) Ford
3. Katerina Hanusova (Cze) Luna

DH

1. Andrew Neethling (RSA) Turner Honda, 4:19.83
2. Greg Minnaar (RSA) Team G Cross Honda, 4:19.90
3. Jared Graves (Aus) Team Yeti, 4:20.10
4. Joel Panozzo (Aus) WTB/Fox Shox/Intense, 4:20.50
5. Warren Cody (USA) Haro Bicycles, 4:21.00
6. Jared Rando (Aus) Team Giant/Michelin, 4:21.00
7. Mick Hannah (Aus) Haro Bicycles, 4:22.40
8. Chris Van Dine (USA) Team Go Ride, 4:22.50
9. Justin Havukainen (Aus) Madcatz Iron Horse, 4:24.50
10. Curtis Keene (USA) WTB/Fox Shox, 4:27.60

Women

1. Bernardita Pizarro Lazo (Chi), 5:00.75
2. Kathy Pruitt (USA)

Standings

Men

1 Greg Minnaar (RSA) Team G Cross Honda, 381 pts
2 Jared Graves (Aus) Team Yeti, 379
3 Joel Panozzo (Aus) WTB/Fox Shox/Intense, 330
4 Andrew Neethling (USA) Turner Honda, 324
5 Jared Rando (Aus) Team Giant/Michelin, 319


Report courtesy 23 Degrees Sport

2005 World Cup Champion Greg Minnaar (RSA) of Team G-Cross Honda has taken the Men's Downhill series lead after finishing 2nd today at round 2 of the NORBA Series in the USA. This week the NORBA schedule visited Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho, and its notoriously long, rocky and usually dusty four and half minute course. Despite only winning once before on this course, Greg was keen to finish this leg the team's travel with a win, but it wasn't to be.

Greg's teammate Matti Lehikoinen re-injured his shoulder injury from Austria during training, but not through having an accident. The course features a large drop off and Matti's shoulder just wasn't strong enough yet to handle the impact. On his first attempt Matti felt a lot of pain in the shoulder, more than he'd felt for some time, and realized there was no way he could make the drop off. Matti was therefore unable to participate in this weekend's event.

Training went well for Greg except for the last session this morning, when he crashed on course after it had become slippery following some evening rain. The rain made the powdery course slick and not its usually dusty self. This crash in training left Greg with a badly bruised calf and made him a little wary for the qualifier. For the qualifying race, Greg chose to ride conservatively and take care of the calf muscle. The run had him in 2nd place knowing that the course still had a good 8 to 10 seconds in it. Danger man Jared Graves (AUS) of Team Yeti, who won the first round of the NORBA series, and pushed Greg to the limit in Angel Fire Resort for last weekend's World Cup, came in with a broken derailleur and therefore didn't post a time for the team to assess, and he also lost valuable points. Fastest qualifier was American Chris Van Dine.

In the final Greg was having a super fast run, with a strong top section and getting all of his lines in the woods as clean as possible. All was on target until the last corner in the last woods section when his front tire slipped on a tree root, and then grabbed traction suddenly throwing Greg over the handlebars. After collecting his bike and remounting, all that was left to do was to get to the line. His time was just 1/10th slower than eventual race winner, compatriot Andrew Neethling of Turner Honda, (who was fastest qualifier at Round 1, but suffered a mechanical in the final). The result was enough for Greg to take the Series lead by just 2 points.
Quotes:

Greg Minnaar (2nd Place)
„After winning here last year I really wanted to end this stint of racing on a high note before heading back to South Africa for my mid season break. I was having an awesome run, but I guess the course changed from the qualifiers as it was still drying out and the tree root caught me out. That's racing really, and full credit to Andrew, it's great to see another South African right up there.‰

Team Director Martin Whiteley
„Greg was unlucky today. I know how much he wanted to win in Idaho and his race run was going really well until he slipped on the tree root. That's the nature of our sport when you're on the limit and this time the luck went against us. Both riders now get a well earned break before the next series of races, which we are looking forward to in mid August.‰

In the Mountain Cross Greg qualified 17th after drifting wide on one corner and losing time to end up mid-field in the 32 man final. In his first heat Greg won easily over Rich Houseman (USA) and Andrew Neethling (RSA) and in the 2nd round he was once again untroubled winning after leading from the start. In the semi final, Greg got squeezed out at the start into 3rd position then in a patient ride made a brilliant move on the 3rd last corner to pass Mick Hannah and take his GM 4X bike into the final. Here he was beaten out of the gate by Cody Warren (USA) and Jared Graves, but Greg and 2004 World Champion Eric Carter (back from a broken wrist) were dicing it out for 3rd, when Cody Warren washed out on the 2nd last corner, enabling Jared Graves to win, Carter 2nd, and Greg taking 3rd place, his first NORBA Mountain Cross podium since 2003.

The team now takes a well earned mid season break in preparation for their next major event, the 7th Round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pila, Italy, August 20 and 21.

 


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