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Sea Otter Classic - NE
USA, April 6-9, 2006
Race 5 - Sunday, April 9: Gravity Omnium event #2, Downhill
Legs of steel
By Marla Streb
If only the downhillers' legs could talk, they'd probably scream. This year, the Sea Otter DH race proved to be one of the most difficult ever. Not technically, but physically. The short, BMX style course was sodden not only with rain water, but persistent running springs.
Jared Graves (Yeti) won the DH in 04, and expected to do well here in 05. Slipping a high rolling Maxxis TT tire on the rear of his 4-inch mountain cross bike was a key element to Graves' win today on this muddy, rutted, "power pedaling" DH course. Graves BMX'ed during the Australian winter and arrived in great condition at the top of the hill ready to win. At the bottom of his time 2:43 run, Graves's squirmed quite a while as Fabien Barel (Kona), John Kirkaldie (Maxxis), Cedric Gracia (Commencal) and Steve Peat (Santa Cruz) pedaled down. But none of them could better his time.
"It's not about being fast," second place finisher Barel divulged. "It's about knowing where to go slow. I saved energy at the top of the course, ignoring the spectators' urgings. Then I had plenty left at the bottom for the pedal section."
And that was the trick. Most riders lamented that they went too hard at the top, where there are rhythm jumps begging to be boosted for the crowd.
For the women, Tracy Moseley (Kona) powered her way past Anneke Beerten (Specialized), World Champion Vanessa Quinn (Dirt/Intense) and Sabrina Jonnier (Iron Horse) for the win. Melissa Buhl (KHS), the '05 US downhill champ, scored the 5th place spot on the DH podium
Ryan Finney racing for WTB , was America's proudest son today just missing out on the podium in sixth place. As the course designer, one would expect that Finney would have an "inside" line to the finish, but as Eric Carter (GT) pointed out, "There were few good line choices today, because of the weather. It really just comes down to horsepower." Finney did seek out every possible speed advantage however by squeezing into a skinsuit and sporting goggles. The only thing he could blurt out after his run was "PAIN!".
Looks like his legs could talk afterall.
Men 1 Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti 2 Fabien Barel (Fra) Kona Women 1 Tracy Moseley (GBr) Kona 2 Anneke Beerten (Ned) Specialized 3 Vanessa Quinn (NZl) Dirt/Intense 4 Sabrina Jonnier (Fra) Iron Horse 5 Melissa Buhl (USA) KHS