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National Mountain Bike Series #1 (NMBS) - 1
Fontana, California, USA, March 27 - 30, 2008
Race 6 - March 29: Elite Men Cross Country
Kabush's victory brings him one step closer to Tomac's winning record
By Dave McElwaine in Fontana, California
Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) convincingly won the elite men's cross country in 2:08:09. The Canadian finished solo 29 seconds ahead of American Adam Craig (Giant MTB Team). Fellow Canadian Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) finished third one minute and eight seconds after Kabush.
In recent years, the NMBS race in Fontana has been a real "throw-down" between Kabush, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Suburu) and Todd Wells (GT). This year proved somewhat different with Wells was off looking for UCI points in Puerto Rico and Jeremiah Bishop racing in the Cape Epic in South Africa. It was also rumored that regular NMBS favorite Ryan Trebon (Kona) had taken some down time after a long, hard cyclo-cross season during which he had suffered a few injuries that needed time to heal. He was not expected to be competitive this early in the mountain biking season.
Kabush chose to ride his hardtail with 285 gram Maxxlite tires. The Canadian has a history of gambling on tires, and it has often paid off as it did in Snowmass [NMBS finals - ed.] last season. Kabush said that one of his goals for this season is to surpass the record set by John Tomac of 14 total NMBS (then called "NORBA") wins. Going into Fontana, Kabush had 11 career NMBS wins.
Horgan-Kobelski chose to ride is 29-inch wheeled Gary Fisher Superfly. The bike felt incredibly light when lifted off the ground and was sporting fairly narrow tires.
Involved the Olympic chase this year are Horgan-Kobelski, Wells, Michael Broderick (absent from the Fontana race), Craig, Sam Schultz (Subaru / Gary Fisher), Bishop, and others. Several Canadians in the hunt for their team competed in Fontana, too. Race conditions were nearly perfect with temperatures were in the 70s and overcast skies. The crowds were much larger this year as amateur race registration set a new record.
How the race unfolded
Geoff Kabush got the hole shot but Barry Wicks (Kona) led the charge up the first steep, loose hill. He was closely followed by Kabush, Horgan-Kobelski, Craig, and Sam Jurekovic (U23 National Team). Trebon was forced to the right side of the climb and got stacked up with some other riders. He had to get off his bike and run the hill while the leaders rode away.
At the end of the first lap, Kabush and Wicks rode alone into the start/finish. Wicks had said before the race that he "came to win" and was riding very aggressively. They were followed by JHK, Craig and Jurekovic. During the second lap, Craig caught the leaders and attacked them. He had a gap at the end of the second lap over Canadian Ricky Federau, who also had moved to the front, and Kabush. Fourty seconds behind were chasers Wicks and Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain).
Most of Kabush's races at Fontana have been tactical, with him attacking only on the last lap in areas where he knew it would be difficult to be passed. This year, however, he not only caught Craig but then laid down a serious uphill attack that nobody could match. At the end of the third lap, he had opened a 30 second gap over Craig, who was then solidly in second place. By the end of the fourth lap, the gap grew to 1:05.
Kabush sailed on to victory, followed by Craig, Plaxton, Jurekovic, and Wicks. Plaxton had also looked very strong at the start of last season. While Jurekovic made a short track podium in Deer Valley last year, Fontana was his first-ever NMBS cross country podium appearance. The rising star credits some of his success to training on the track.
One of the most impressive performances of the day was by Kris Sneddon (Kona) who finished sixth. He literally seemed to have towed JHK around the course for a few laps before dispensing with him and then barely missing the podium himself.
Kabush got his 12th cross country career NMBS win at Fontana and will continue onto the next round with his sights firmly set on Tomac's longstanding record. After the race, he said that while last year he had been dropped on the climbs, this year his lighter tires had turned the tables on his competitors.
The NMBS series moves on to Fountain Hills, Arizona, next weekend.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Dave McElwaine / www.trailwatch.net
1 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis 2.08.09 2 Adam Craig (USA) Giant Mtb Team 0.29 3 Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mountain-Haywood 1.08 4 Sam Jurekovic (USA) U23 National Team 1.58 5 Barry Wicks (USA) Kona 2.28 6 Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona Les Gets 2.58 7 Ricky Federau (Can) 3.27 8 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 4.00 9 Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized Factory Team 4.52 10 Sam Schultz (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 6.46 11 Carl Decker (USA) Giant MTB Team 7.44 12 Cody Peterson (USA) Scott Bicycles 7.49 13 Andy Schultz (USA) Kenda Titus Hayes 8.45 14 Charles Pendry (USA) Inland - BTD 9.54 15 Manuel Prado (USA) Sho-Air/Rock N Road 10.03 16 Ross Schnell (USA) Trek/VW 10.03 17 Adam Morka (Can) 3 Rox Cycling 10.40 18 Troy Wells (USA) Tokyo Joes 10.57 19 Adam Snyder (USA) 3-D Racing 11.22 20 Peter Glassford (Can) Trek Bicycle Store Toronto 11.23 21 Mitchell Peterson (USA) Mona Vie/Cannondale 11.25 22 Jeff Schalk (USA) Trek VW- East 13.04 23 Martin Lazarski (Can) Rocky Mountain Different Bikes 13.20 24 Ignacio Torres (Mex) Turbo Bikes 13.43 25 Ryan Woodall (USA) Industrynine/Powerbar 13.45 26 Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona 14.43 27 Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing 14.49 28 Evan Plews (USA) ScottUSA/CSC 14.53 29 Colin Cares (USA) U23 National Team 14.58 30 Tim Olson (USA) Trek/VW Westcoast 15.01 31 Tim Allen (USA) Voodoo 15.08 32 Mike Phillips (USA) Alterra/Specialized 15.26 33 Emmanuel Valencia (Mex) Turbo 15.45 34 Aren Timmel (USA) Team Chico 15.59 35 Stefan Widmer (Can) Rocky Mountain/Different Bike 16.04 36 Travis Livermon (USA) Kobold Watch Comp 16.25 37 Matthew Hadley (Can) Xprezo 16.27 38 Miguel Valadez (Mex) Valle Congelado 16.35 39 Eric Salstrand (USA) Bicycle Haus/Oakley/Specialized 17.21 40 Dana Weber (USA) Jax Bicycle Center 17.29 41 Brian Astell (USA) Lost Coast Brewery 17.31 42 Pablo Voigt (Mex) Turbo 18.36 43 Charles Jenkins (USA) IE Bikes Racing 19.00 44 Aroussen Laflamme (Can) CBSF/Normandin/Faire 19.26 45 Daniel Sessford Blue Competiton Cycles 19.28 46 Paul Hanson (USA) Sobe Cannondale 19.28 47 Travis Woodruff (USA) Bmc/Momentumendurance 19.50 48 Nat Ross (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 20.02 49 Chris Peariso (USA) Adventure 212 /Titus 20.17 50 Kevin Smallman (USA) Sobe Cannondale 20.56 51 Bryan Fawley (USA) TX Tough/Hotel San Jose 21.06 52 Trevor Downing (USA) Devo 21.16 53 Kyle Douglas (Can) 3 Rox Racing 21.23 54 Eric Batty (Can) Trek Bicycles Store Team 21.23 55 Sean Donovan (USA) Cytomax/KHS 22.08 56 Mitch Hoke (USA) Tokyo Jos 22.40 57 Kenji Takeya (Jpn) Specialized Japan 23.34 58 Robert Marion (USA) Kenda Titus 24.00 59 Chad Wells (USA) 3D Racing 24.08 60 Jason First (USA) 25.04 Pulled 61 Lucas Livermon (USA) Inland Construction 62 Nigel Hill (USA) Trek/ VW west coast 63 Matt Rotroff (USA) BTD/Inland Construction 64 Mcconnell Franklin (USA) Middlebury College 65 Amon Pease (USA) Team Lost Coast Brewery 66 Alex Ryan (USA) Land Rover/Cannondale 67 Chanoch Redlich (Isr) City cycling club 68 Brian Bain (Can) Cmc/Bow Cycle 69 Robert Herber (USA) Intense 70 Yuki Saito (USA) Fuentes Design/Walt Works 71 Colin Osborn (USA) Team Bikeparts.Com 72 Andre Sutton (Can) Hardcore Racing Team 73 Ethan Gilmour (USA) U23 National MTB Team 74 Eric Ransom (USA) Team Tamarack Resort 75 Nate Whitman (USA) Hammer Nutrition 76 Steve Kinney (USA) Steven K Sports 77 Chris Peterson (USA) Devo 78 Michael Mooradian (USA) Spin Bike Shop 79 Michael Lee (USA) Trek/VW West Coast DNF Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis DNF Ken Burt (USA) Jamis Kenda Hayes DNF Bart Gillespie (USA) Monavie/Cannondale DNF Paul Freiwald (USA) Titus Cycles DNF Chance Noble (USA) Calif Giant Berry Farms DNF Mike Andres (USA) Trek/VW West Coast Team DNF Matthew Paziuk (Can) Norco DNF Shane Holliongshead (Can) Norco DNF Dylan Stucki (USA) Independent Fabrications` DNF Luke Pennington (USA) S & M Young Guns DNF Matt Freeman (USA) Cyclery USA/Gary Fisher