Short Track Excitement Continues with 2001 Openner|
Thursday, June 07, 2001
BIG BEAR LAKE (Calif.), 2 June, 2001 - USA Olympian Alison Dunlap and Canada's Ryder Hesjedal emerged triumphant from thrilling races featuring the world's top competitors in the Short Track Cross Country discipline of the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championships Mountain Bike Series at Snow Summit Mountain Resort on 2 June, 2001. The Chevy Trucks NORBA series consists of five rounds, coast to coast, of mountain bike racing, and is the premier off-road cycle racing series in the USA.
The Short Track Cross Country was contested on a half-mile course, with the distance set at 20 minutes, plus three laps, amounting to 13 laps/6.5 miles for the women and 15 laps/7.5 miles for the men. Weather was sunny and windy, with temperatures in the 70s.
The winner of the 2000 Short Track Cross Country series, Argentina's Jimena Florit, San Diego, Calif (RLX Polo Sport), set a fast early pace, and Alison Dunlap, Colorado Springs (Team GT), was forced to chase hard after starting from the third rank in the grid.
Australia's Mary Grigson (Subaru Gary Fisher) shared some of the early pace setting with Florit, and of the 48 starters the list of contenders was soon reduced to these two, Dunlap, Rachel Lloyd, Fairfax, Calif. (Santa Cruz-SunRace), Susan Haywood, Davis, W.Va (Trek Volkswagen) and Shonny Vanlandingham, Pagosa Springs, Colo (SoBe Headshok).
Florit launched a series of attacks and after 15 minutes of racing broke free to ride in a solo lead for several laps. Dunlap jumped across the gap to join her, and Grigson made an attempt to do the same one lap later but was unable to make contact with the two leaders.
The race boiled down to a battle between Florit and Dunlap, and on the final lap Dunlap sprinted early to arrive first at the top of a key climb, some 400 yards from the finish. A winding descent with many sharp turns made passing impossible, and Dunlap was delighted to take the win, a full bike's length ahead of Florit. Grigson came in third, 13 seconds back.
For Dunlap, this win made up for a slightly disappointing ride in the Cross Country race on June 1, in which she finished second. "I had to make up for yesterday," she quipped in a post-race interview.
A powerful men's field of 52 remained intact only for only four laps until Ryder Hesjedal, Victoria, BC (Subaru Gary Fisher) sprinted clear of the strung-out group and embarked on what appeared to be a suicidal attack. With a strong breeze blowing it was more difficult for a solo rider than a bunch of cyclists.
Pavel Cherkasov, Russia (Subaru Gary Fisher) worked hard for four laps to control the chasing group of 13 riders, which included Cross Country Mountain Bike World Cup leader Roland Green, Victoria, BC (Trek Volkswagen). But it was inevitable that Hesjedal would be caught.
Costa Rican rider, Jose Adrian Bonilla (Café de Costa Rica) finally brought the chase group up to Hesjedal with eight laps completed, but almost immediately the spirited 20-year-old attacked again with a move that reduced the lead group from 13 to eight.
Then the attacks started coming in rapid succession. Cherkasov went to the front and drove the pace for a few laps, and Hesjedal did his best to contain the chase, but Seamus McGrath, Millgrove, Ontario (Haro Lee Dungarees) and Bonilla would not let the Subaru Gary Fisher riders control the pack.
On the last lap a group of five climbed the all-important final ascent, with Cherkasov in the lead. McGrath jumped past the Russian and almost surprised Hesjedal, who was late to respond but surged past his tiring team-mate to challenge McGrath. With Green just behind, Hesjedal and McGrath dived neck and neck into the hard right-hander at the top of the climb and there was a clash of elbows and handlebars.
Hesjedal emerged in front for the final descent, and although McGrath never gave up it would have been practically impossible to pass his compatriot. Roland Green took third, making it a Canadian 1-2-3.
Pro Women's Short Track Cross-Country: 13 laps/6.5 miles
1. ALISON DUNLAP, Colorado Springs (Team GT) 6.5 miles in 24:42.4;
2. Jimena Florit, San Diego, Calif (RLX Polo Sport), at +0:02;
3. Mary Grigson, Wheatridge, Australia (Subaru Gary Fisher) at +0:13;
4. Shonny Vanlandingham, Pagosa Springs, Colo. (SoBe Headshok) at +0:23;
5. Susan Haywood, Davis, W.Va (Trek Volkswagen) at +0:30;
Pro Men's Short Track Cross-Country: 15 laps/7.5 miles
1. RYDER HESJEDAL, Victoria, BC (Subaru Gary Fisher) 7.5 miles in 24:42.6;
2. Seamus McGrath, Millgrove, Ontario (Haro Lee Dungarees) at +0.4 of a second;
3. Roland Green, Victoria, BC (Trek Volkswagen) at +0:01;
4. Pavel Cherkasov, Russia (Subaru Gary Fisher) at +0:03.9;
5. Jose Adrian Bonilla, Costa Rica (Café de Costa Rica) at +0:04.3,