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1st Subaru Nova Desert Classic - NE

Phoenix, Arizona, March 21-23, 2003

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Stage 2 - March 22: Criterium

General Classification up for grabs at the Subaru Nova Desert Classic

by Stephen W. Medcroft

The crit starts
Photo: © Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Another hot day greeted racers in Fountain Hills as the battle continued for the overall win at the Subaru Nova Desert Classic. And although Roland Green and Susan Haywood played perfect tactics to maximize their chances, the GC times are so close that the race will more than likely be decided in tomorrow's cross-country race.

The short track / dirt criterium course laid out by race promoters featured a 1 1/2 mile lap with a super-fast and wide 200-yard downhill sloping start, which made for exciting and intense battles to see who would make it to the beginning of the singletrack. A couple quick and rough downhill plunges, just enough uphill grade to challenge the racers, and finished with a mixture of swoopy technical twists followed for racers who ran a 20-minutesplus one-lap test.

A premium time bonus (20, 10, and 5 seconds to the first three racers back to the starting straightaway after the first lap) brought out the tactics.

The women's race heats up
Photo: © Jon Devich
Click for larger image

In the women's race, Trek / VW put its riders in service of Susan Haywood to try and retain her place at the top of the GC. Alison Sydor tore off the front scoring the hole shot. The goal was for her to lead Susan around the first lap then yield first position to give Susan the time bonus. She was to take the next bonus for herself and keep it out the hands of their designated threat, Subaru / Gary Fisher racer Mary Grigson. Sydor took to her role like a pro, proud that their tactics paid off. "Sometimes you're the star," she said, red-faced and cooling under the shade of her team tent soon after the event. "And sometimes you're the bottle carrier. I felt good in this race and I did my job."

"I felt overheated after the first lap," said Susan Haywood of the 82 degree Fahrenheit temperatures and snappy pacemaking of her teammate, but was happy with the final result. The contending top ten soon separated from the rest of the field and settled in. Haywood recovered enough behind the pacesetting of the likes of Jimena Florit, Mary Grigson, and Lanie Mason to cross the line close to the front and have her 20-second bonus boost her to first for the race.

Photo: © Jon Devich
Click for larger image

The men's race tactics seemed more basic. Roland Green and Ryder Hesjedal sprinted elbow to elbow down the starting straight fighting for the holeshot. Roland held on to the front, even when challenged, through the entire first lap. In fact, the entire field stayed together until the time bonuses had been awarded. But the pace proved too much for most and quickly a cohesive group of five leaders were the only faces on the front for the restof the day. Overall race leader and RLX / Polo Sport racer JeremyHogan-Kobelski led the final five for much of the last three laps and even found enough of a kick to put a three-second gap between himself and Roland Green at the finish line. But the time bonus proved critical again, leapfrogging World-Champion Green into first place for the race. Also in the group of five was Haro's Chris Sheppard, relative mountain-bike newcomer and Hillenbrand racer Derek Wilkerson, and Rocky Mountain's Andreas Hestler. Also notable, Travis Brown chased until his face reddened in the heat to almost match his crimson hairdo, but he could not overcome a gap that, at the end, was as short as ten or fifteen seconds.

The short-track race was not the best venue for downhill racers though with Trek / VW's Wade Bootes and Mio Suemasa both having rough outings. Mio found herself crunched in the mass start and hit the dirt hard in the opening chute, dropping out at the end of the first lap to receive care and attention to her bleeding elbow and the road rash down her thigh. In Wade's defence, his rough day seemed more voluntary. Dropping off the blistering pace being set at the front of the pro men's group, Wade hammed it up for the crowd whenever he lapped through the spectator's area, pulling wheelie's and playing antics on his bike.

Photo: © Jon Devich
Click for larger image

There was no relief of pressure on race promoters though who, for the second day in a row, struggled with the mathematics of timing and scoring high-level mountain bike racing. Team managers, although professional and understanding of the growing pains of a new event, were frustrated to still be challenging results with officials as late as two hours after the winners crossed their finish lines.

After two intense and exciting races, the general classification Of the Subaru Nova Desert Classic for both men and women is too close to be assured and leaves contenders optimistic. "They call the time trial the race of truth but I think that cross-country is the race of truth," said Mary Grigson. "You can always make up 15 seconds in cross-country." There are always tactics to play as well. With additional time bonuses and a challenging course with little open opportunity for passing, tomorrow's cross-country race should decide who can claim the title of best prepared coming off winter training.

Tomorrow's exciting cross-country finale will be fought on a tough 6-mile loop, which includes a switchback climb sure to drive riders heart rates into the red. Tune in tomorrow for the results.


Images by Jonathan Devich/thefastrack.com

Images by Jeff Horen/mountainbikeaz.com


1 Roland Green (Can) Trek/VW                   0.29.19
2 Derek Wilkerson (USA)                           0.10
3 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) RLX                0.16
4 Chris Sheppard (USA) Haro                       0.16
5 Andreas Hestler (Can) Rocky Mountain            0.31
6 Travis Brown (USA) Trek/VW                      0.54
7 Ryan Trebon (USA)                               1.05
8 Liam Killeen (GBr) Gary Fisher                  1.19
9 Jason Tullous (USA)                             1.30
10 Brian Matter (USA)                             1.32
11 James Van Toever (USA)                         1.32
12 Josh Bezecny (USA)                             1.32
13 Anthony Colby (USA)                            1.45
14 Charles Jenkins (USA)                          1.58
15 Derek Prechtl (USA)                            1.58
16 Nicholas Waite (USA)                           1.58
17 Dave Wiens (USA) RLX                           1.58
18 Nick Gould (USA)                               1.58
19 Scott Keller (USA)                             2.20
20 Jimi Mortenson (USA)                           2.27
21 Jay Henry (USA) Specialized                    2.27
22 Todd Tanner (USA)                              2.41
23 Nathan Phillips (USA)                          2.53
24 Barton Bowen (USA)                             2.53
25 Brad Van Orden (USA) Ritchey/Nova              2.53
26 Amon Pease (USA)                               3.07
27 Neil Shirley (USA)                             3.24
28 John Salskov (USA)                             3.29
29 Nat Ross (USA)                                 3.59
30 Walker Ferguson (USA) Gary Fisher              4.10
31 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Gary Fisher               6.09
32 Wade Bootes (Aus) Trek/VW                      6.09
33 Joel Hennings (USA)                            7.09

Women top 10

1 Susan Haywood (USA) Trek/VW                  0.27.55
2 Kimberly Anderson (USA) T-Mobile                0.10
3 Mary Grigson (Aus) Gary Fisher                  0.10
4 Jimena Florit (Arg) RLX                         0.10
5 Lanie Mason (USA)                               0.14
6 Chrissy Redden (Can) Gary Fisher                0.39
7 Rhonda Quick (USA)                              0.39
8 Alison Sydor (Can) Trek/VW                      0.40
9 Melanie Mcquaid (Can) Ford Outfitters           0.55
10 Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) Luna Chix           1.04
11 Dara Marks (USA)                               1.04
12 Kelli Emmett (USA) Hillenbrand                 1.13
13 Willow Koerber (USA) RLX                       2.05
14 Kathy Sherwin (USA)                            2.53
15 Jennifer Todd (USA)                            3.03
16 Joan Orgeldinger (USA)                         3.06
17 Lisa Matlock (USA) Ford Outfitters             3.06
18 Jennie Wilson (USA)                            3.06
19 Shannon Gibson (USA)                           3.09
20 Jody Koch (USA) Ford Outfitters                3.16
21 Tonya Laffey (USA) MTB Chicks                  3.27
22 Alicia Mayer (USA)                             3.27
23 Tiffany Kenny (USA) Ford Outfitters            3.46
24 Rachel Massey (USA) Ford Outfitters            4.03
25 Nicole Habay (USA)                             4.03
26 Molly Hummel (USA)                             4.10
27 Sonia Lopez (USA)                              4.10
28 Leslie Gilmore (USA) Soulcraft                 4.32
29 Shari Hausbeck (USA)                           5.19
30 Leah Trapp (USA)                               8.31
31 Mio Suemasa (Jpn) Trek/VW                     13.31
32 Alexandra Robinette (USA)                     13.31

Unofficial General Classification
(based on corrections to yesterdays times).

Men Top 5

1 Roland Green (Trek / VW)                         58.18
2 Jeremy Hogan-Kobelski (RLX / Polo Sport)          0.03
3 Chris Sheppard (Haro)                             0.14
4 Derek Wilkerson (Hillenbrand Racing)              0.24
5 Ryan Trebon                                       0.46

Women Top

1 Susan Haywood (Trek / VW)                      1.00.30
2 Mary Grigson (Subaru / Gary Fisher)               0.13
3 Jimena Florit (RLX / Polo Sport)                  0.24
4 Lanie Mason (Cane Creek)                          0.32
5 Alison Sydor (Trek / VW)                          1.48