Green, Redden Score Doubles with Short Track Victories |
Thursday, August 30, 2001
Haywood, Horgan-Kobelski Win National Titles
WEST DOVER, Vt. (Aug. 18, 2001) - The same two Canadians who won the pro cross country races Friday repeated with short track cross country victories today at the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championship Mountain Bike finals today.
Chrissy Redden (Subaru/Gary Fisher) out sprinted six other all-star breakaway companions to win her second race in as many days.
Like the women’s race, the men’s race boiled down to an elite lead group, with each rider trading attacks. Having launched an early probe of the front, Green settled in and rode defensively, content to watch others. He then fired his cannon with two laps to go, cutting the group down to three, and fired again with just over a lap to go. Despite a ferocious charge from his countryman Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru/Gary Fisher), Green held on for the victory in front of the largest crowd assembled to date for 2001 national championship series.
More than 7,000 spectators had assembled along the barricades for the crowd-friendly short track race, a half-hour timed event on a course tightly woven through the Mount Snow ski area’s lodges and lots. Laid out like the letter ‘W’ on the side of the mountain, the course had two challenging hills. But the descents allowed riders to recover, too.
Hence, both races started the same way: a wild game of crack-the-whip that steadily snapped riders off the pace.
In the women’s race, Sue Haywood applied the pressure early to force a selection. After three laps, it had boiled down to seven of the best: Haywood, Redden, series leader Jimena Florit (RLX Polo Sport), Alison Dunlap (GT/Chevy Trucks), Alison Sydor (Trek/Volkswagen), Shonny Vanlandingham (SoBe/Headshock) and Vermont’s Audrey Augustin (Zeal/GT).
The early pressure sent a who’s who of women’s racing off the back: Mary Grigson (Subaru/Gary Fisher) and Ruthie Matthes (Trek/Volkswagen) were two of the casualties.
The seven leaders took turns pressing, but not attacking. The crowd roared each time the ladies crowded through corners, throwing elbows or hips to hold position.
"On a course like this there was a lot of tire rubbing and some elbowing," said Haywood. "It’s just defensive moves."
Then with the bell sounding the final lap, Dunlap - who had won every short track she had finished this season - attacked with fury. As she climbed the first hill, however, Redden and Sydor responded and retrieved Dunlap on the descent. "Alison put out an elbow, and, I was nice about it. I was like ‘Excuse me, but I’m going through’," said Redden. Florit and Haywood, seeking a national title, held the gap but could not close; Augustin and Vanlandingham faltered.
Having clawed her way back to Dunlap, Redden pounced on the opportunity. She lit up a ferocious sprint to take the win from Dunlap. Sydor, finding her lost form, finished third. Four seconds later, Florit came in ahead of Haywood to round out the podium.
Haywood, having scored the podium in all but one race in the series, secured her first national title. With a fourth place finish in the finals, three seconds, and a victory at Deer Valley, Utah, Florit repeated as the series winner.
Having studied the women’s race, the men followed the same script. The lone difference was the presence of one dominant rider, Roland Green (Trek/Volkswagen).
Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru/Gary Fisher) used his patented style of attacking at the gun. He strung out the line and started to take a regular damage report. Green pressed once and snapped off the front, only to sit up, look back to his British Columbian training partners, Hesjedal, Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees), Chris Sheppard (Kona/Ford Focus) and Geoff Kabush (Kona/Ford Focus), at the front of the group. He slowed a bit, waved them up, and settled in. Farther back, a massive string of riders pressed ahead and connected. This allowed for something unusual in short track: a massive break of more than 20 super-talented riders roaring about on a single line.
From this group sprung Sheppard alone. The leaders opted to bet on Green instead of Sheppard and allowed him to open a massive gap that he held for five brilliant laps. But with the hounds approaching, he thought better of such heroics and retreated back to the field.
When he returned, however, he discovered the group of 20 riders had been reduced to just nine. The main field had been snapped in two when Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (RLX Polo Sport) and Todd Wells (Mongoose/Hyundai) crashed in a turn.
With 15 minutes of racing to go, the race had become Roland Green versus eight powerful riders.
Hesjedal chose to play his brawn card instead of his brains card by pushing at the front. Green sat tight. Coming off Hesjedal’s efforts, Pavel Cherkasov (Subaru/Gary Fisher) plowed forward, hoping to retire on top. Green sat tight.
Paul Rowney (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) pressed ahead twice, but could not snap clear. Green sat tight.
Carl Swenson (RLX Polo Sport) attacked hard and opened a small gap that Hesjedal fought to close. Green sat tight.
"I was hurting out there, too," said Green. "These guys were all racing real hard. I just saved it." Indeed he did. With two laps to go, Green exploded off the front. The group responded as best they could. "We all know that he can go at any moment," said Swenson. "So you try your best and race as hard as you can. But everybody knows how strong Roland is."
Hesjedal chased in vain, with Rowney struggling to advance. Their efforts would pay off with second and third, but Green controlled the day, the weekend, and the world of mountain bike racing. Cherkasov and Cadel Evans (Volvo/Cannondale) rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth respectively.
Green took the series, too. Despite his crash, Horgan-Kobelski scored the U.S. title, finishing 15th on the day and fourth overall.
CHEVY TRUCKS NORBA NCS No. 5, SERIES FINALS, MOUNT SNOW, Vt.
Short Track Cross Country
1.ROLAND GREEN (Trek/Volkswagen) Victoria, B.C.; 2. Ryder Hesjedal, (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Victoria, B.C; 3. Paul Rowney (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) Australia; 4. Pavel Cherkasov (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Russia; 5. Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees) Millville, Ont.
1. ROLAND GREEN, 2. Ryder Hesjedal, 3. Pavel Cherkasov, 4. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, 5. Paul Rowney.
1. Chrissy Redden (Subaru/Gary Fisher) Campbellville, Ont.; 2. Alison Dunlap (GT/Chevy Trucks) Colorado Springs, Colo.; 3. Alison Sydor (Trek/Volkswagen) Victoria, B.C.; 4. Jimena Florit (RLX Polo Sport) Argentina; 5. Sue Haywood (Trek/VW) Davis, W.Va.
1. JIMENA FLORIT, 2. Chrissy Redden, 3. Susan Haywood, 4. Shonny Vanlandingham, 5. Alison Dunlap.