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Pan American Games - JR
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 10-17, 2003
Day 1 - August 10: Mountain Bike Cross-country
Bishop strikes gold, McConneloug takes silver
Fast pace, tropical conditions make for grueling day in the mountains
By Andy Lee, USA Cycling
Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, VA) and Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, CA) continued their successful seasons this afternoon each taking home medals in the cross-country mountain bike event at the XIV Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic. Bishop scored a gold medal for the Americans amongst a small but competitive field while McConneloug took silver behind seasoned pro, Jimena Florit (ARG).
Team USA's other entry, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, CO), was forced to abandon the race on the first lap due to a stomach infection.
Set in the mountains of Jarabacoa, the unique course that wound its way through the local villages, consisted of a 4.4km loop of which the men churned out 10 laps for 44km, and the women 8 laps for 35.2km. In addition to a taste of the local culture, the course offered a variety of challenges beginning with a brief but technical descent followed by a few tough climbs situated in between the otherwise rolling terrain. With no single-track, the race would be a test of fitness more so than technical abilities, and the hot and humid conditions helped create what would be a race of attrition for both the men and the women.
In the men's race, the fast pace created a natural selection of three riders, Bishop, Dieber Esquivel, (CRC) and Edivandro Cruz (BRA) that formed four laps into the race. As Esquivel and Cruz took turns attacking, Bishop simply maintained a steady but strong pace, saving his energy for the few technical sections. Eventually, Esquivel dropped off the pace as Bishop and Cruz stuck together until the final lap. With the tricky downhill section approaching, Cruz attacked, but Bishop answered, overtaking Cruz on the downhill and ultimately attacking on the following climb. That move proved to be the game-winner as Bishop soloed across the line, taking home the gold medal for Team USA.
The women's event was predicted to be a battle between McConneloug and Florit, and shortly after the race began it was clear that the winner would indeed be one of the two. A first lap crash by Jacqueline Mourao (BRA) created a gap in the field benefiting both McConneloug and Florit. Afterwards, Florit attacked and the chase by McConneloug was on. After Florit increased her lead to a minute, McConneloug settled into a strong pace behind, but wouldn't see her challenger for the remainder of the race. With the rest of the field shattered far behind, McConneloug securely had the silver in her grasp, cruising across the line in second wearing her trademark smile.
Bishop, who was mobbed by the local village people and volunteers seeking autographs and pictures, offered his insight on the race. "This is one of the strangest races I ever did. There was a selection of a few riders and from then on it was like a hilly circuit race on the road. We kept a slow pace and guys were putting in full effort attacks but I just slowly and steadily increased my speed and conserved myself for the technical sections because I knew I was better there and could make up time. On the last lap, just before the downhill, Cruz attacked but I managed to hang on and pass him and by the time we finished the descent I had about 10 seconds on him and just put in a ballistic effort on the following climb and kept a smooth, maximum pace to the finish."
McConneloug was thrilled with her silver medal performance even though she fell victim to the course design. "The course was not technical enough for me", McConneloug said afterwards. "On the first lap, Jackie crashed on the downhill and we were gapped off. From there, Jimena attacked first and I went with her. I was just trying to hang with her, but she opened up a gap of a minute and I figured she was gone so I just paced myself the rest of the way. I'm definitely happy with silver."
A disappointed Horgan-Kobelski explained his misfortune after he abandoned. "I woke up this morning feeling sick, and after warming up, I though I would be alright, but once the race started and everyone went hard, I couldn't go with them."
Bishop's gold medal was the 76th of the Pan American games for the United States, while McConneloug's silver added to the overall medal total of 141.
Next up for the three members of Team USA is the NORBA National Championship Series Final in Durango, Colo. August 14-17.
Bishop plays a clever game of chess
By the Trek/VW Factory Team
Trek/VW Factory Team racer Jeremiah Bishop (USA) has won the gold medal in the Mountain Bike event on Sunday August 10, 2003 at the XIIV Pan American Games. Bishop qualified to represent the United States at the 2003 Games by virtue of his top ranking among U.S. professional mountain bike racers after the first three NORBA series events. Placing first at the international competition gained Bishop a significant number of UCI points towards his cross-country ranking. Those points have moved Bishop into the current lead among the Americans hopeful for participation in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
High in the mountains of Jarabacoa the men’s race consisted of 10 laps around a 4.4km loop. Featuring a technical downhill section and a couple steep climbs, the course’s otherwise rolling terrain provided a playing field for a true test of fitness. From the start, Bishop broke away from the main field with two other men. Waiting for just the right moment Bishop kept his full strength hidden while he allowed the other racers to take turns attacking the pace. As Bishop matched their pace he was still riding conservatively, keeping a steady effort but never reaching his maximum. With one lap to go, Bishop followed the attack of a Brazilian racer. Bishop overtook the Brazilian and powered down the last technical section of the course. That moved proved to be the deciding moment and Bishop flew across the finish line in first place to claim the gold.
At the race’s finish spectators and local villagers mobbed Bishop seeking autographs and pictures. One man, standing in awe of the racer, proclaimed, "You are now a very famous man here." Little did the villager know just how widespread Bishop’s fame has already reached. So well known in fact that the August 18th edition of VeloNews magazine credits Bishop with being "the year’s emerging revelation."
Winning the gold medal at the Games was a dream come true for Bishop. The 2003 season has indeed been a revelation for the 27 year old cyclist. With podium finishes at NORBA National Championship Series events, an amazing showing at the UCI World Cup at Grouse Mountain, and nominations for the 2003 World Championship team, and the Pan American Games gold medal is icing on what is already the sweetest of cakes.
Men 1 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) 2.10.39 (21.290 km/h) 2 Edivandro Cruz (Brasil) 0.14 3 Deiber Esquivel (Costa Rica) 1.49 4 Marcio Ravelli (Brasil) 6.04 5 Fabio Castañeda (Colombia) 1 lap 5 Yamil Carlos Montaño (Bolivia) 5 Edvin Barrios (Guatemala) 5 Ismael Sanchez (Dominican Republic) 9 Carlos Franco Gennero (Argentina) DNF Hector Paez (Colombia) DNF Jose Bonilla (Costa Rica) DNF Jeremy Horgan (USA) DNF Ziranda Madrigal (Mexico) DNF Ramon Moronta (Dominican Republic) DNF Mathieu Toulouse (Canada) Women 1 Jimena Florit (Argentina) 2.02.59 (18.126 km/h) 2 Mary Mcconneloug (USA) 2.50 3 Francisca Campos (Chile) 7.56 4 Laura Morfin (Mexico) 9.15 5 Jacqueline Mourao (Brasil) 1 lap 6 Karen Matamoros (Costa Rica) 6 Flor Delgadillo (Colombia) 8 Maria Ramirez (Ecuador) 8 Anabella Lopez (Guatemala) 10 Diana Marggraff (Ecuador)