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National Mountain Bike Series 7 (NMBS-AMBC) - 1
Snowmass, Colorado, USA, August 10-12, 2007
The National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) will wrap up with its seventh and final round on August 10-12 in Snowmass Village, Colorado.
Unlike the last round, held at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, July 26-29, where wet course conditions helped shake up the overall standings in several disciplines, Snowmass is likely to provide a different kind of advantage to some competitors: high altitude (8,140 feet / 2,428 m) and dry conditions.
The one discipline whose overall podium looks set going into the finals is the cross country, which will see a 13 mile (20.9 km) loop with 3,500 feet (1,067 m) of climbing per lap. The pros will complete 1.5 laps of the demanding course, covering roughly 20 miles (32.1 km) and 7,000 feet (2134 m) of climbing.
At Sugar Mountain, Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW) showed great form to hold of the powerful Canadian champion, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) and win the race. Last weekend, Bishop showed his form extends to long distances, too, by winning the Wilderness 101. At Snowmass, regardless of his result, Kabush is likely to emerge as the series champion with a commanding 718 points from his four best results. The 2005 US national champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) lies second in the series, with 681 points from his best four races, but that will not likely be enough to surpass Kabush. However, look for a strongly motivated Horgan Kobelski as he will be racing in his home state.
2006 women's national champion Georgia Gould (Luna) has reigned supreme in the 2007 National Mountain Bike Series, winning all five races she has entered so far. Gould's experienced team-mate, Shonny Van Landingham lies second in the series, while ex-pat Czech Katerina Nash, now living in California, completes a Luna Women's team domination of the top three spots. Expect to see VanLandingham and Nash, both with a history of strong high-altitude performances, make the most of the thin air of Snowmass.
The crowd pleasing short track will feature wide open pavement, off-camber grassy slopes and water crossings. Stagers will take about two minutes per lap. The battle for the short track series is a tight one between Kabush, Horgan-Kobelski, and Todd Wells (GT Bikes). With one result thrown out, these three are separated by only nine points. With 182 points going to the winner of the race, the entire series may come down to the final lap.
After closing the gap on Gould, Nash produced the win she needed at Sugar Mountain and now leads the women's short track series. The team-mates will do battle with themselves and third and fourth places Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Vanlandingham.
Downhillers will race a new course this year that features a mix of high-speed open sections and narrow, tree-lined singletrack. Australians Jared Rando (Giant/Michelin) and Amiel Cavalier (Giant), have dominated the downhill series, and in all likelihood it will come down to a two-man race. However, recently crowned US national champion, Cole Bangert (Morewood) took full points at Sugar Mountain and will be looking to rock and roll in his home state.
The consistent riding of Melissa Buhl (KHS) has left her with three wins and an almost unassailable position in the series lead. Second and third places are wide open. Lisa Myklak (Leelikesbikes.com) and last year's series champion, Joanna Petterson (Brodie) are separated by just 13 points separate these two entering the final round.
Dual Slalom / 4X
In the dual slalom / 4X, Eric Carter (Mongoose) retains the series lead despite missing the last round. The 37 year-old, who was the 2004 world champion, and 2006 national champion, should finish comfortably ahead in the series of Rando and Carver. 21 year-old Luke Strobel (Maxxis) recently won the Sugar Mountain round and currently lies third in the NMBS 4X series standings. They will race against recently crowned US national champion Chris Herndon (Specialized/Cane Creek).
Buhl, with three straight wins and a second place from the four 4X / dual slalom races she has entered, is looking to double up and win the overall, too. As in the downhill, Joanna Petterson is a contender for second place, with a reasonably comfortable 36 point cushion over her team-mate, Jackie Harmony (Brodie/Bike and Bean).
Former World Champion Alison Dunlap and Marla Streb will host cross country and downhill clinics that are free and open to the public. A kids race and a pro rider autograph signing session highlight the weekend.
All series' final results are calculated by throwing out the lowest scores.