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US ProXCT #4and Kenda Cup West #6 - Sand Creek International - 3

Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, June 12-13, 2009

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Race 3 - June 13: Cross Country: Elite men & women

Max Plaxton wins his first US cross country race

By Dave McElwaine in Colorado Springs

Max Plaxton (Sho-Air/Specialized) won his first Pro XCT race Saturday at Cheyenne Mountain Park in a heated battle with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski who finished second. He also solidified his lead in the series. Todd Wells (Specialized) rode in no-man's land much of the race to take third. Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) was fourth, and Derek Zandstra fifth.

The course was fast and challenging. The weather was perfect for the 90 Elite men who raced today. "The course was awesome," said Todd Wells. "It was a good combination of flat, smooth, fast sections and rocky, technical sections up top. It was a real mountain bike course."

The racers did four 5.2-mile laps with 1070 feet of climbing per lap at an altitude over 6,000 feet. On the back side of the course there were some challenging uphill switchbacks. The descent was twisty, rocky, and extremely fast. The run into the finish was on pavement.

As usual, Todd Wells won the start on the pavement and led the racers onto the dirt. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski then went to the front and drilled the pace. "I had to try to blow it apart at the beginning. I was feeling really strong," said Horgan-Kobelski. "I didn't want to have to race all three Sho-Air guys at the end. But, Max bridged a huge gap on the descent. He was descending really well. I was trying to be a little conservative and not get a flat."

By the end of the first lap, Horgan-Kobelski had nearly a 10-second lead on Wells, Plaxton, Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized), Geoff Kabush, and Adam Craig (Giant). By the end of the second lap, however, Plaxton had closed the gap on Horgan-Kobelski to within a few seconds.

Plaxton set the pace on the third lap followed closely by Horgan-Kobelski. Wells was 10 seconds back followed by Geoff Kabush. Beyond that was an enormous gap back to Sam Schultz who later relinquished fifth place to Derek Zandstra. Sid Taberly's front fork locked up, taking away any chance he had to make the podium today.

"Plaxton and Horgan-Kobelski got away on the descents. Plaxton was flying," said Wells.

On the final descent, Horgan-Kobelski had the lead, but Plaxton found a shorter line around a corner to make the pass. It was important to hit the final pavement stretch first as it was extremely difficult to get around someone on the run into the finish.

Plaxton explained his strategy. "I felt that I needed to attack and suffer at the front. I was definitely descending well which I attribute to the full-suspension Epic (Specialized) which was the right bike for today.

"I didn't feel the altitude," continued Plaxton. "Last week at Vail I was hurting...but it was smart we went up there and raced a little higher and then came back down."

Pendrel outsprints Compton to win in Colorado

Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB), the number one ranked UCI rider in the world, beat the powerful Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) in an exciting sprint finish Saturday at Cheyenne Mountain Park. Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB) rode much of the race alone to finish third. Georgia Gould, who has been dealing with an illness, finished fourth followed by Lea Davison who was fifth.

The racers did three 5.2 mile laps with 1070 feet of climbing per lap at an altitude over 6,000 feet. The climb was a combination of doubletrack, and singletrack switchbacks. The descent was twisty, rocky, and extremely fast. The run into the finish was on pavement.

Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher/Subaru) won the start but by the end of the initial pavement section Catherine Pendrel led the riders onto the dirt. She attacked the climbs, particularly on the switchbacks, to put about a hundred foot lead on Heather Irmiger who has chasing hard.

Behind them were Katie Compton, Katerina Nash, Georgia Gould, and Lea Davison. It was obvious to anyone who has watched Gould race that she was not feeling herself today. Irmiger would later double flat, ending her chance at double podiums this weekend. Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth) and Judy Freeman (Tough Girls) also looked strong.

"I tried to get ahead on the singletrack climb which was the only place I felt that I had an advantage today," said Pendrel. "Then I would try to maintain that lead as long as I could. Katie was a little better at muscling through the rocks. On the last lap I had a little fall on my face but was able to catch up."

Compton said, "Catherine [Pendrel] set a good pace and wanted to lead on the climbs. Heather and I were able to close it on the downhills. I'm working on my climbing and think that will come along when I start doing some speed work for cross season."

Lea Davison made it onto the podium taking fifth place. She had spent most of the spring racing on the road in Europe. "It's good to be back on the dirt and part of the US scene."

The next major race for the US riders is the Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, Colorado on the weekend of July 18.

Results

Elite men
 
1 Max Plaxton (Team Sho-Air/Specialized)         
2 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru)    
3 Todd Wells (Specialized)                       
4 Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain)      
5 Derek Zandstra                                 
 
Elite women
 
1 Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB)           
2 Katie Compton (Spike Shooter)                  
3 Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB)               
4 Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB)               
5 Lea Davison (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain)