Oh, Canada! Green, Redden Take Mount Snow XC Final|
Thursday, August 30, 2001
WEST DOVER, Vt. (Aug. 17, 2001) - Roland Green (Trek/Volkswagen) and Chrissy Redden (Subaru/Gary Fisher) led a Canadian assault on the final cross-country race at the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championships Mountain Bike Series.
For Green, who crushed a world-class field with a three-minute solo lead over second place Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees), it confirmed his position as the world’s best cross country racer.
In the quest for the American titles, Ruthie Matthes (Trek/Volkswagen) rode solidly to finish seventh on the day, but good enough to claim her fifth national championships. Matthes, 36, confirmed her retirement from the sport at the end of the season.
And 29-year-old Kirk Molday (SunRace/Santa Cruz) came back from a slow start to finish eighth on the day, good enough to take the men’s national title.
Another Canadian from British Columbia, Ryder Hesjedal (Gary Fisher/Subaru) powered off the starting line. Green responded to his training partner’s move, pressed to the front and never looked back. On a wide-open course with far less single track than traditionally found at Mount Snow, groups formed, broke apart, and re-formed anew. During the second lap, a chase group of 20 riders developed. In that group both top Americans, Molday and Todd Wells (Mongoose/Hyundai), rode.
But nobody could match the power of Green.
"A lot of guys have been traveling, and I've stayed close and focused on training," said Green. "That work paid off today. I changed my bike at the last minute with the rain. I had a full suspension set up, but went with the hardtail at the last minute.
While Hesjedal faltered, Kashi Leuchs (Volvo/Cannondale) pressed ahead with McGrath.
"Kashi and I rode and worked together," said McGrath. "I figured that I needed to make my move in the last lap. Kashi and I were talking about how Roland was kicking our asses. He instantly rode away from us. I knew it was going to be a battle for second."
As the weather changed from a cool drizzle to a steamy heat, a number of younger rider broke down while the older diesels of the field pushed forward. Tinker Juarez (Volvo/Cannondale) proved himself worthy of a spot on the world’s team by passing Hesjedal and sitting in fourth.
"I think I made a good point today. I proved I could ride as good as any of these guys and ride really well at altitude after the 24 Hours race in Colorado."
Two other Americans notorious for slow starts, Molday (Sun Race/Santa Cruz) and Travis Brown (Trek/Volkswagen), pushed forward into the top 10. Younger Turks, including Wells, cracked.
As the five laps wore on, Green pulled away. Leuchs and McGrath dueled brilliantly for second, as did Juarez and Hesjedal for fourth. Molday rode with Brown, monitoring his position and keeping an eye in the rear-view mirror for Wells. The 20-year-old Wells clearly appeared disappointed with his 18th-place finish. Having started the season with a shop team and a full-time job, he appeared at the start with a new trade team sponsorship and an announcement he had given notice at work. Ironically, it would be Wells’ weakest performance this season in a NORBA national race.
The final results, with every podium result a solo finish, were Green in the winner’s circle, followed by McGrath and Leuchs. Hesjedal fought back to overtake Juarez on the last lap, but the 40-year-old Juarez held tough for fifth.
And Molday, with an eighth place finish, completed his redemptive season by taking the stars-and-stripes jersey.
"It feels great today because I reached my goal. It's a bit disappointing because I know I'm capable of doing more. I wanted a few more top three," said Molday. "No one else could do it this year, and I wanted to show the rest of the world that we're (American cross-country racers) not that out of the game."
Although Redden had won a NORBA national in Mammoth two seasons ago, her victory at last year’s Mount Snow finals elevated her into the elite ranks. Throughout the season, she has stayed there, albeit in the shadow of her teammate Mary Grigson, who won three of the series races.
In Mount Snow, however, the entire show belonged to Redden. She fired off the line, established a lead, and never looked back. "I just like this course," said Redden. "It's East Coast and sea level. Both the singletrack and climbs are good for me. The climbs are not too long and not too steep. They're real power climbs. I can just open up and go crazy."
During the first lap, Alison Dunlap (GT/Chevy Trucks) challenged for the lead early on but flatted on the third lap. After changing a tire in the rain, she fell out of the top 10 and, with creaking legs, started back to racing. This left an opportunity for the other Alison, Alison Sydor (Trek/Volkswagen).
"On the first lap, Alison Dunlap and I worked together on the climbs and went fast on the descents," said Sydor. "And then I guess Alison crashed or something and I just kept going. Once it started raining, I thought whoo-hoo!"
The Canadian, who struggled earlier in the season, demonstrated the gradual return of world-class fitness with a solid ride. But Grigson came up hard and surged into second.
In a reversal of roles, Redden had only to worry of her teammate catching. Grigson, content to use the race for preparation for worlds, made the rainy event into a popular parade in front of a huge crowd.
Matthes held in fourth for much of the race, ahead of Vermont’s Audrey Augustin (GT/Zeal), the third best American going into the event.
The second best American in the series was Shonny Vanlandingham (SoBe/Headshok) who punctured. Despite the use of tire levers, the tight bead of a new tire kept a frustrated Vanlandingham from making the change. She did not finish.
On the third of four laps, Dunlap made an amazing surge. "I just thought, this is stupid, I’m way back here," she said. "I’m just going to have a hot lap." Dunlap roared from 12th to fourth by the halfway spot in the final lap.
Redden finished alone with a huge gap on Grigson, who ended the race in second, but first in the series. Then came a satisfied Sydor, followed by a smiling Dunlap. And next to finish, all present expected the arrival of Matthes. Instead the Vermont crowd - massive for a Friday afternoon event - was treated to a surprise, Audrey Augustin finished a brilliant fifth.
"In the end, I was working with Ruthie (Matthes) to try to catch Jimena (Florit), so I put in a higher gear and just went," said Augustin. "The ending was epic. Vermont has the best fans and it was so inspiring. They were cheering so loud I couldn't hear myself breathe." After Jimena Florit (RLX/Polo Sport) finished in sixth, Matthes rolled in.
"Today, I really wanted to be on the podium for my last national cross-country, but I couldn't get enough liquid. Two days ago I felt great, but today didn't feel as good. It felt hard to go easy. The crowd was great. They were yelling 'Don't retire!’," said Matthes. "I'm not one to just rest on my laurels, but how many titles do I need to have? I want to explore living in another way outside of bike racing. I've been doing it for 19 years."
CHEVY TRUCKS NORBA NCS No. 5
Pro Men Cross Country
1.ROLAND GREEN (Trek/Volkswagen), Victoria, B.C. 2:01:20; 2. Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees) Millgrove, Ont. 3:34; 3. Kashi Leuchs (Volvo/Cannondale) New Zealand 4:22; 4. Ryder Hesjedal (Gary Fisher/Subaru) Victoria, B.C. 4:28; 5. Tinker Juarez (Volvo/Cannondale) Downey, Calif., 4:59.
Final Series Standings
1.ROLAND GREEN (Trek/Volkswagen) Victoria, B.C.; 2. Ryder Hesjedal(Subaru/Gary Fisher) Victoria, B.C.; 3. Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees) Millgrove, Ont.; 4. Kirk Molday (SunRace/Santa Cruz) Temecula, Calif.; 5. Pavel Cherkasov (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Russia
Pro Women Cross Country
1. CHRISSY REDDEN, (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Campbellville, Ont. 2:01.00.59; 2. Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher/Subaru) Australia 1:24; 3. Alison Sydor (Trek/Volkswagen) Victoria, B.C. 3:38; 4. Alison Dunlap (GT/Chevy Trucks) Colorado Springs, Colo. 5:54; 5. Audrey Augustin (GT/Zeal) Waitsfield, Vt., 6:08.
Final Series Standings
1. MARY GRIGSON (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Australia; 2. Chrissy Redden (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Campbellville, Ont.; 3. Ruthie Matthes (Trek/Volkswagen) Boulder, Colo.; 4. Jimena Florit (RLX/Polo Sport) Argentina; 5. Audrey Augustin (GT/Zeal) Williston, Vt.