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NORBA US national series #1 - 2
Fontana, CA, USA, May 5-7, 2006
Race 3 - May 6: Cross-country
Kabush and Vanlandingham finish together
By Harlan Price
Surrounded by manicured lawns and kids playing basketball in the park, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix) rolled across the finish line together as winners of the 2006 season opening NORBA National men's and women's Pro XC race on Saturday. Each racer made it to the finish line first in their own style; Kabush played a game of patience, avoiding a last-corner crash between Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Gary Fisher) and Todd Wells (GT/Hyundai) while Valandingham set a pace at the start that put her just off the front early in the race.
The small town of Fontana, CA hosted the season opener with near perfect weather, and a festival atmosphere. The shaded and grassy Southridge community park provided an oasis for riders to escape to after spending hours racing, in the bordering foothills. The technical 7 mile XC race course crossed concrete drainage ditches, paralleled new housing developments and provided heavy equipment operators the chance to watch spandex-clad racers go around in circles for hours.
Geoff Kabush's inner ear infection and three weeks of vertigo, that took him out of contention in the Melbourne Commonwealth games and in the first World Cup in Curacao has passed. Back in form, he has made good on the speculation that placed him as an early season favorite. At the start of the 28 mile race, Kabush's plan was to "keep the pressure on early to avoid the dust".
The field stretched out in the first lap with a group of six off the front consisting of Kabush, Todd Wells, Kobelski, Barry Wicks (Kona/ Les Gets), Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain-Krystal Decisions) and Jeremiah Bishop (Trek VW). Showing themselves to be the strongest riders of the day Kabush, Wells and Kobelski pulled away from the other three.
For almost three full laps the dynamic consisted of Wells and Kobelski battling each other for hole shots while Kabush was content to yo-yo off the back letting the other two battle on the climbs on their hardtails, then rolling up from behind on the decents letting his Turner dually do the work. "After the 1st half of the race I started watching them (Wells, JHK). There was a lot of wind and I was willing to watch them fight for the single track, because I knew I could close on the decents."
Barry Wicks (Kona/ Les Gets) could do nothing more than sit about 20 seconds back and watch the action ahead of him. Aware that his season was just starting and worried about burning his legs an ecstatic Wicks explained he "tried to keep a nice steady pace and never tired to give it the gas. I just wanted to race smart." That might have been the best strategy on a course that could swallow a front tire in soft sand sending a tired rider into rattlesnack territory.
One rider who had every right to feel a little tired was Jeremiah Bishop, coming out of Harrisonburg Virginia. He had just spent the last week doing The Tour of Shenandoah, a six day stage race and was"feeling a little blown out." and ranked himself physically as an "8 out of 10." Bishop dangled off of Wicks by about minute. After the men began to lap the Junior XC and women riders "there was not much point in attacking because in five seconds you were behind in someone else." He got over this annoyance by imagining it to be a local race where passing riders could "be your tactical friend." The attitude adjustment couldn't have come at a better time because Carl Decker (Giant) was closing in fast.
As the final mile of the race came into view, Wells, Kobelski and Kabush had to start positioning themselves before the final piece of single track. Without consulting each other first, Wells and Kobelski attacked at the same time looking for the ribbon. As JHK came around they tangled bars and both riders went down. Kabush took the opportunity, made the pass and cruised in for a win. With a quick response, Kobelski was up and crossed the line 33 seconds back. Barry Wicks' patience paid off as he picked up a career best 3rd by passing a half pushing, half riding Wells, who crossed the line in fourth and went straight to the medical tent.
13 seconds later Jeremiah Bishop rounded off the top five only 21 seconds up on Decker.
The women's race
The women's race ended with less drama, but had its own share of podium shuffling behind Vanlandingham who was, like Kabush, coming out of a poor World Cup finish due to illness. Pushing the pace in the second lap behind Vanlandingham, who sat off the front from the start, was her teammate Katarina Nash and Subaru-Gary Fisher rider Willow Koerber. Jimena Florit (Luna) and Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain) were marking the 4th and 5th position while Dara Marks Marina (Titus-Kenda), Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Kathy Sherwin (Ford Cycling) and Sue Haywood sat at positions 6th-9th, in that order.
With a dominant Vanlandingham out of reach, the ladies behind got down to work fighting for what was left of the podium. Half way through the second lap riders met the card dealer, and after he did a little reshuffling, Jimena Florit found herself moving closer to the top of the deck.
She passed her teammate Katarina Nash on the flats around the construction site on the second lap. Florit might have had an advantage on a course that "felt like home [Spain]." With trails of similar style, the comfort factor might have given her the initiative to come back from mid pack. Hot on her heals were Sydor and Koerber who were riding about 3 seconds back, as Florit caught Nash. Koerber had been running third after having a start in which she "felt strong, and happy." She was caught by the fast charging Jimena and Sydor on the second lap and held on till third-lap leg cramps put her on damage control.
Koerber's teammate, Heather Irmiger, had no problem jumping around the field after a start in which she "didn't feel great, but eventually calmed down and rode my own pace." From a 10th place start she began picking people off who she felt had "burned" at the fast pace.
Not burned by the fast pace, but definitely a victim of circumstances was Nash who suffered chain problems and a lap without anything to drink. Kathy Sherwin also had her share of problems in the last lap when she double flatted. Fortunately it was right at the tech zone, so she had a quick change of wheels and was off to make up some lost time.
Coming into the finish, Sydor rolled across the line, in first, with fellow countryman Kabush. Sydor kept her eye on Florit and made the last piece of single track first to get a 2 sec advantage over her. Heather Irmiger continued picking off riders and moved into fourth just 46 sec ahead of Koerber.
With a week to go till the first of three World Cups, (Spain, Belgium, and Scotland), Fontana is a last chance for many riders to get a feel for their fitness. The chase for UCI points and a bid for 2008 Olympic slots is now the main focus of the top American and Canadian riders. Watch for their performance in the next three World Cups all happening this month.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Harlan Price
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Harlan Price
1 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis 2.02.58 2 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 0.33 3 Barry Wicks (USA) Kona/Les Gets 1.08 4 Todd Wells (USA) GT/Hyundai 1.42 5 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek/VW 1.54 6 Carl Decker (USA) Giant 2.16 7 Adam Craig (USA) Giant 3.25 8 Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mtn Business Objects 4.04 9 Emanuel Valencia (Mex) Turbo 4.52 10 Ricky Federau (Can) Teamrace.Com 5.59 11 Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona/Les Gets 6.21 12 Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona/Lesgets 6.38 13 Walker Ferguson (USA) Scott USA/Spinner 7.13 14 Burry Stander (RSA) GT Bikes 7.43 15 Sam Schultz (USA) U23 National Team 8.34 16 Matt Kelly (USA) Subaru/Gary Fisher 9.03 17 Troy Misseghers (Can) Mountain Bike City 9.08 18 Ignacio Acosta (USA) 9.54 19 Tristan Schouten (USA) Trek/VW Regional 10.17 20 Juan Carlos Hainandez (Mex) Turbo 10.38 21 Jay Henry (USA) 3D/Hillenbrand Racing 11.25 22 Brent Miller (Aus) WTB/Fox Shox/Santa Cruz 12.02 23 Jeff Hall (USA) Salsa Cycles 12.25 24 Eric Jones (USA) Raleigh Facotry 12.46 25 Jeff Schalk (USA) Trek VW- East 13.12 26 Andy Johnston (USA) Kenda/KHS/Cycleyouth 13.31 27 Raita Suzuki (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor 13.38 28 Tim Olson (USA) Trek/VW 13.40 29 Sam Jurekovic (USA) U23 National Team 14.38 30 Cody Peterson (USA) 3D Racing/Sram/Lfp&Co 14.50 31 Colin Cares (USA) U23 National Team 15.42 32 Bart Gillespie (USA) Raliegh Factory Team 15.45 33 Miguel Valadez (Mex) Tecate Mex 15.52 34 Douglas Ryden (USA) Pro Cycling 16.03 35 Michael Lee (USA) Trek/VW/JBL 16.05 36 Thomas Spannring (Aut) Cole Sport 16.09 37 Leonardo Sandoval (USA) Bicycle John's/Kenda/MGTec 16.12 38 Evan Plews (USA) Santiam Bicycles 16.25 39 Adam Snyder (USA) Balance Bar/Devo 16.40 40 Michael Janelle (USA) Tokyo Joes/Go Lite 16.41 41 Nick Martin (USA) Trek-VW 16.42 42 Charles Jenkins (USA) Cytomax/KHS 16.50 43 Andy Schultz (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale 16.57 44 Jason Sager (USA) Hotel San Jose/Cannondale 17.03 45 Ben Thompson (USA) Santiam Bicycles/ Breakaway 17.10 46 Nick Ranno (USA) Trek/VW 17.33 47 Dana Weber (USA) Jax Bicycle Center 18.06 48 Clint Muhlfeld (USA) Sportsman Ski Hau-Cannondale 18.43 49 Ross Schnell (USA) Trek VW 18.55 50 Mike Andres (USA) TM Chico 20.23 51 Aren Timmel (USA) Soul Craft 20.59 52 Sean Donovan (USA) Cytomax/KHS 22.19 53 Troy Wells (USA) TIAA-CREF 23.12 54 Gordon Yanota (USA) Flat Tire Bike Shop 23.13 55 Brig Brandt (USA) Bend Elite 23.51 56 Carlos Mayoral (Mex) Turbo 23.53 57 Patrick Bush (USA) Clif Bar 24.22 58 Noah Singer (USA) Bearnaked/Cannondale 24.26 59 Ryan Artale (USA) 24.30 60 Mike Joos (USA) FLC 27.21 61 Nicholas Stevens (GBr) Fuentes Design/Waltworks 27.35 62 Andrew Freye (USA) Bikeman.Com/Salsa Cycles 28.00 63 Steve Kinney (USA) Steven K Sports 28.08 64 Lance Runyan (USA) Titus Cycles 28.39 65 Charles Pendry (USA) Inland - Btd 29.23 66 Austin Carroll (USA) Team Devo 29.32 67 Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor 30.59 68 Kamden Reedy (USA) Titus Cycles 31.23 69 Paul Freiwald (USA) Titus Cycles 31.27 70 Daniel Corum (USA) Inland/Rtd 32.43 71 Lucas Livermon (USA) Cylcing Spoken Here 37.19 72 Shannon Boffeli (USA) Revolution Mtn Sports/Crank Bros 37.37 73 Matt Freeman (USA) Team Redlands/Trek 39.28 74 Mitchell Peterson (USA) Devo 43.36 75 Noah Holcomb (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale DNF Patrick Brown (USA) Trek/VW DNF Kyle Dixon (USA) Bicycle Warehouse DNF Paul Hanson (USA) DNF Rick Wetherald (USA) Tamarack Resort DNF Ariel Lindsley (USA) Maverick DNF Bear Perrin (USA) Kenda/Jamis DNF Roddi Lega (Can) Norco Factory Team DNF Gordon Yanota (USA) Wheelsinmotion/Giant DNF Christian Favata (USA) OverlookMTB/Hutchinson/Spy DNF Cale Redpath (USA) 3D Racing DNF Mike West (USA) Maverick DNF Travis Woodruff (USA) Litespeed/Pcw DNF Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis DNF Perry Paolini (USA) Amgen Cycling DNF Hal Helbock (USA) Cytomax/KHS Pro women 1 Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) Luna Womens MTB Team 1.47.59 2 Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mtn Business Objects 0.57 3 Jimena Florit (Arg) Luna Womens MTB 0.58 4 Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 2.36 5 Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 3.12 6 Dara Marks-Marino (USA) Titus/Kenda 3.47 7 Susan Haywood (USA) Trek-Volkswagen 4.16 8 Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Womens MTB Team 4.48 9 Wendy Simms (Can) Velo Bella/Kona 5.11 10 Kathy Sherwin (USA) Ford Cycling 6.48 11 Mical Dyck (Can) Terrascape Racing 6.52 12 Jamie Whitmore (USA) Felt Racing 7.51 13 Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Womens MTB 8.01 14 Jennifer Smith (NZl) Trek/VW 9.05 15 Lea Davison (USA) Trek/VW 10.09 16 Tomarra Muhlfeld (USA) Trek/VW 10.42 17 Nina Baum (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale 10.54 18 Jenna Zander (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale 12.33 19 Zephanie Blasi (USA) Kenda/Gu/Reno Wheelman 14.38 20 Chloe Forsman (USA) Tokyo Joes 15.32 21 Kelli Emmett (USA) Ford Cycling 15.41 22 Heather Svahn (USA) Reno Whhelmen/Backcountry 16.03 23 Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (USA) Ford Cycling 17.04 24 Chris Costa (USA) Tamarack 17.35 25 Kyia Malenkovich (USA) Headmethod.Com 18.16 26 Carolyn Popovic (USA) MTBikechicks.Com/Cannondale 18.27 27 Stacey Scanlan (USA) Tamarack 19.16 28 Paula Burks (USA) Vantaggio/Specialized 22.05 29 Cassandra Perkins (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale 22.26 30 Jennifer Wilson (USA) 22.43 31 Christine Misseghers (Can) Mountain Bike City 22.58 32 Laura Anderson (USA) 23.13 33 Shannon Gibson (USA) Crazy Cat Cyclery/Yeti Grassroots 23.48 34 Sue Abbene (USA) Raleigh Facotry 23.53 35 Leah Guloien (USA) TM Sugoi/Giant 23.54 36 Kristy Lanier-Mantz (USA) Dirtbean 24.44 37 Christie Pleiss (USA) TM K&N Performance 24.55 38 Jean Ann McKirdy (Can) Rocky Mtn/Business Objects 26.38 39 Hilary Wright (USA) Devo 27.03 40 Jennifer Hanks (USA) Revolution Mtn Sports 27.26 41 Becca Blay (USA) Team Dean 27.36 42 Kimberly Flynn (USA) Vantaggio/ Specialized 28.25 43 Theresa Richardson (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale 28.35 44 Teri Strayer (USA) TM K&N Perfomance 29.08 45 Rebecca Gross (USA) Armed Forces 29.43 46 Meggan Flaherty (USA) Bicylce Johns/Serious Cycling 30.15 47 Shannon Holden (USA) Velo Bella/Kona 30.27 48 Kim Passafiume (USA) Velo Bella 32.22 49 Christina Smith (USA) Orthopedic Store.Com 32.51 50 Krista Park (USA) Colavita/Addictive Cycles 33.53 51 Kristi Lewis (USA) Orbea 35.39 52 Mary-Ellen Ash (USA) 3 Rox Racing 36.15 53 Jennifer Tilley (USA) Kona/Velo Bella 43.14 54 Chrissy Bono (USA) Bicycle Johns Serious Cycling 43.31 55 Sami Fournier (USA) Velo Bella/Kona 47.50 56 Susan Grandjean (USA) 59.55 DNF Ann Fitzsimmons (USA) Schwalbe Tires DNF Patricia Sinclair (Can) Scott USA/Kenda DNF Abigail Hippely (USA) Maverick DNF Susie Fiore (USA) Colavita DNF Catherine Pendrel (Can) Norco DNF Kristina Andrus (USA)