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NORBA National Championships - CN
Mammoth Mountain, California, USA , September 23-26, 2004
Race 2 - Friday, September 24: Cross Country
Elite M/W: Horgan-Kobelski, Dunlap win XC Championships
By USA Cycling
Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) made the winning efforts in today's pro cross-country contests. The familiar faces on NORBA podiums gave crowd-pleasing performances against strong competition.
The men's race was highlighted by 2004 Olympians Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) as well as Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore.) and Travis Brown (Boulder, Colo.) - who were the top two Americans in the 2004 NORBA National Cross-Country series standings after the finals in Durango last month.
Horgan-Kobelski, Trebon, and Craig formed a gap on the rest of the field almost from the gun. After making the climb up the kamikaze downhill, the three leaders were about 15 seconds in front of Wells, Anthony Colby (Durango, Colo.) and Neil Shirley (Calif.). As the racers made their way into the start/finish area at the end of the first lap, Trebon had been dropped by the other Horgan-Kobelski and Craig who were increasing their lead substantially. Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.) had worked his way into third position, and was riding all by himself in pursuit of the two leaders. Trebon and Todd Wells were working together in fourth and fifth, 15 seconds behind Decker.
Lap two saw Horgan-Kobelski make his decisive move, as he attacked and gained a 25 second lead over Craig, while Decker still chased in third. Todd Wells, Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.), Neil Shirley, and Eric Jones (Salt Lake City, Utah) made up the chase pack that would fight it out for the final podium spots in the final lap. An incredible effort put forth by 49-year-old Ned Overend almost allowed him to bridge up to the chase pack.
Horgan-Kobelski held onto his commanding lead all the way to the end, while Craig took the silver and Decker claimed the bronze. Eric Jones won the race of the final podium contenders with a career effort putting him in fourth place, while Neil Shirley posted a surprising podium finish in fifth.
Much like in the men's race, the contenders for the women's event were determined in the early stages. Willow Koerber (Gunnison, Colo.) had the early lead, while Sue Haywood (Davis, W.Va.), Alison Dunlap, Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.), and Dara Marks-Marino (Flagstaff, Ariz.) were all very close behind.
Irmiger had an amazing ride this afternoon, proving that she has become stronger and stronger all season. At the end of lap one, Marks-Marino and Dunlap were working together in the front, while Haywood, Koerber, and Irmiger were only 10 seconds back. Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Kerry Barnholt (Boulder, Colo.) fought to keep the pace and bridge up to the three chasers.
The second and final lap for the women witnessed the leaders stay in the same positions. Dunlap crossed the line first to earn yet another stars and stripes jersey, while Marks-Marino finished second with a career ride. Haywood took the bronze, while Irmiger had a break-out performance in fourth, and Koerber finished a successful season in fifth.
On the agenda for tomorrow is the kamikaze downhill as well as the observed trials national championships for all categories. The Super D contests and the pro mountain cross finals will also highlight the afternoon.
Under 23 M/W: Alan Obye named U23 Men's National XC Champion
Caitlyn Tuel claimes top honors as the lone racer in the women's U23 event
By USA Cycling
Alan Obye (Mendon, Vt.) dominated the cross-country course this morning at Mammoth Mountain to win the first ever U23 National Cross-Country Championship race. Twenty men lined up for three laps totaling 27 miles, and one lone woman - Caitlyn Tuel (Lyndell, Pa.) - toed the line for two laps to become the Women's U23 National Champion.
A determined Obye took a commanding lead in the first lap and set a fast pace, causing the field to quickly spread out. Obye's teammate on the U23 National squad, Nick Waite (Davis, W.Va.), joined Alex Hagman (Durango, Colo.) and Andy Schultz (Missoula, Mont.) to form a talented and determined group of chasers. As Obye went through the feed zone going into lap two, he had at least a one minute gap over the three.
"I got to the bottom of the first descent and couldn't see anybody," Obye commented after his win. "I was a little nervous on the first lap because it seemed early in the race to have a gap that big."
Behind the village, spectators could see the riders ascending the climb that would bring them back around the west loop and into the start/finish area. Obye was seen increasing his lead as Waite and Hagman dropped Schultz in their continued pursuit of the leader. At the end of lap two, Obye still had a substantial lead while Hagman had gotten away from Waite, who was trying to hold onto third. Andy Schultz was not far behind in fourth. "I felt like I was climbing strong and riding the descents clearly," the leader remarked.
The riders were very spaced out going into the switchbacks on the final lap, illustrating the incredible pace Obye was setting at the front for the entire race. The 22-year-old Vermont native maintained his amazing gap and crossed the line to claim top honors ahead of Hagman, who made a very strong effort today. Schultz passed Waite during lap three to claim the bronze, while Waite and Brent Bookwalter (Comstock Park, Mi.) secured the final spots on the podium in fourth and fifth respectively.
Obye's win today brings a remarkable end to the debut year of the U23 National Mountain Bike Team. This week also marks Obye's final races in the U23 category, as he will turn 23 in 2005.
Men 1 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski 2 Adam Craig 3 Carl Decker 4 Eric Jones 5 Neil Shirley Women 1 Alison Dunlap 2 Dara Marks-Marino 3 Sue Haywood 4 Heather Irmiger 5 Willow Koerber U23 Men 1 Alan Obye 2 Alex Hagman 3 Andy Schultz 4 Nick Waite 5 Brent Bookwalter U23 Women 1 Caitlyn Tuel