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NORBA US national series #1 - 2

Fontana, CA, USA, May 5-7, 2006

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Race 3 - May 6: Cross-country

Kabush and Vanlandingham finish together

By Harlan Price

Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix)
Photo ©: Harlan Price
(Click for larger image)

Surrounded by manicured lawns and kids playing basketball in the park, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) and Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix) rolled across the finish line together as winners of the 2006 season opening NORBA National men's and women's Pro XC race on Saturday. Each racer made it to the finish line first in their own style; Kabush played a game of patience, avoiding a last-corner crash between Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Gary Fisher) and Todd Wells (GT/Hyundai) while Valandingham set a pace at the start that put her just off the front early in the race.

The small town of Fontana, CA hosted the season opener with near perfect weather, and a festival atmosphere. The shaded and grassy Southridge community park provided an oasis for riders to escape to after spending hours racing, in the bordering foothills. The technical 7 mile XC race course crossed concrete drainage ditches, paralleled new housing developments and provided heavy equipment operators the chance to watch spandex-clad racers go around in circles for hours.

Geoff Kabush's inner ear infection and three weeks of vertigo, that took him out of contention in the Melbourne Commonwealth games and in the first World Cup in Curacao has passed. Back in form, he has made good on the speculation that placed him as an early season favorite. At the start of the 28 mile race, Kabush's plan was to "keep the pressure on early to avoid the dust".

The field stretched out in the first lap with a group of six off the front consisting of Kabush, Todd Wells, Kobelski, Barry Wicks (Kona/ Les Gets), Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain-Krystal Decisions) and Jeremiah Bishop (Trek VW). Showing themselves to be the strongest riders of the day Kabush, Wells and Kobelski pulled away from the other three.

For almost three full laps the dynamic consisted of Wells and Kobelski battling each other for hole shots while Kabush was content to yo-yo off the back letting the other two battle on the climbs on their hardtails, then rolling up from behind on the decents letting his Turner dually do the work. "After the 1st half of the race I started watching them (Wells, JHK). There was a lot of wind and I was willing to watch them fight for the single track, because I knew I could close on the decents."

Barry Wicks (Kona/ Les Gets) could do nothing more than sit about 20 seconds back and watch the action ahead of him. Aware that his season was just starting and worried about burning his legs an ecstatic Wicks explained he "tried to keep a nice steady pace and never tired to give it the gas. I just wanted to race smart." That might have been the best strategy on a course that could swallow a front tire in soft sand sending a tired rider into rattlesnack territory.

One rider who had every right to feel a little tired was Jeremiah Bishop, coming out of Harrisonburg Virginia. He had just spent the last week doing The Tour of Shenandoah, a six day stage race and was"feeling a little blown out." and ranked himself physically as an "8 out of 10." Bishop dangled off of Wicks by about minute. After the men began to lap the Junior XC and women riders "there was not much point in attacking because in five seconds you were behind in someone else." He got over this annoyance by imagining it to be a local race where passing riders could "be your tactical friend." The attitude adjustment couldn't have come at a better time because Carl Decker (Giant) was closing in fast.

As the final mile of the race came into view, Wells, Kobelski and Kabush had to start positioning themselves before the final piece of single track. Without consulting each other first, Wells and Kobelski attacked at the same time looking for the ribbon. As JHK came around they tangled bars and both riders went down. Kabush took the opportunity, made the pass and cruised in for a win. With a quick response, Kobelski was up and crossed the line 33 seconds back. Barry Wicks' patience paid off as he picked up a career best 3rd by passing a half pushing, half riding Wells, who crossed the line in fourth and went straight to the medical tent.

13 seconds later Jeremiah Bishop rounded off the top five only 21 seconds up on Decker.

The women's race

The women's race ended with less drama, but had its own share of podium shuffling behind Vanlandingham who was, like Kabush, coming out of a poor World Cup finish due to illness. Pushing the pace in the second lap behind Vanlandingham, who sat off the front from the start, was her teammate Katarina Nash and Subaru-Gary Fisher rider Willow Koerber. Jimena Florit (Luna) and Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain) were marking the 4th and 5th position while Dara Marks Marina (Titus-Kenda), Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Kathy Sherwin (Ford Cycling) and Sue Haywood sat at positions 6th-9th, in that order.

With a dominant Vanlandingham out of reach, the ladies behind got down to work fighting for what was left of the podium. Half way through the second lap riders met the card dealer, and after he did a little reshuffling, Jimena Florit found herself moving closer to the top of the deck.

She passed her teammate Katarina Nash on the flats around the construction site on the second lap. Florit might have had an advantage on a course that "felt like home [Spain]." With trails of similar style, the comfort factor might have given her the initiative to come back from mid pack. Hot on her heals were Sydor and Koerber who were riding about 3 seconds back, as Florit caught Nash. Koerber had been running third after having a start in which she "felt strong, and happy." She was caught by the fast charging Jimena and Sydor on the second lap and held on till third-lap leg cramps put her on damage control.

Koerber's teammate, Heather Irmiger, had no problem jumping around the field after a start in which she "didn't feel great, but eventually calmed down and rode my own pace." From a 10th place start she began picking people off who she felt had "burned" at the fast pace.

Not burned by the fast pace, but definitely a victim of circumstances was Nash who suffered chain problems and a lap without anything to drink. Kathy Sherwin also had her share of problems in the last lap when she double flatted. Fortunately it was right at the tech zone, so she had a quick change of wheels and was off to make up some lost time.

Coming into the finish, Sydor rolled across the line, in first, with fellow countryman Kabush. Sydor kept her eye on Florit and made the last piece of single track first to get a 2 sec advantage over her. Heather Irmiger continued picking off riders and moved into fourth just 46 sec ahead of Koerber.

With a week to go till the first of three World Cups, (Spain, Belgium, and Scotland), Fontana is a last chance for many riders to get a feel for their fitness. The chase for UCI points and a bid for 2008 Olympic slots is now the main focus of the top American and Canadian riders. Watch for their performance in the next three World Cups all happening this month.

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Harlan Price


1 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis                           2.02.58
2 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher             0.33
3 Barry Wicks (USA) Kona/Les Gets                             1.08
4 Todd Wells (USA) GT/Hyundai                                 1.42
5 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek/VW                               1.54
6 Carl Decker (USA) Giant                                     2.16
7 Adam Craig (USA) Giant                                      3.25
8 Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mtn Business Objects                4.04
9 Emanuel Valencia (Mex) Turbo                                4.52
10 Ricky Federau (Can) Teamrace.Com                           5.59
11 Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona/Les Gets                            6.21
12 Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona/Lesgets                            6.38
13 Walker Ferguson (USA) Scott USA/Spinner                    7.13
14 Burry Stander (RSA) GT Bikes                               7.43
15 Sam Schultz (USA) U23 National Team                        8.34
16 Matt Kelly (USA) Subaru/Gary Fisher                        9.03
17 Troy Misseghers (Can) Mountain Bike City                   9.08
18 Ignacio Acosta (USA)                                       9.54
19 Tristan Schouten (USA) Trek/VW Regional                   10.17
20 Juan Carlos Hainandez (Mex) Turbo                         10.38
21 Jay Henry (USA) 3D/Hillenbrand Racing                     11.25
22 Brent Miller (Aus) WTB/Fox Shox/Santa Cruz                12.02
23 Jeff Hall (USA) Salsa Cycles                              12.25
24 Eric Jones (USA) Raleigh Facotry                          12.46
25 Jeff Schalk (USA) Trek VW- East                           13.12
26 Andy Johnston (USA) Kenda/KHS/Cycleyouth                  13.31
27 Raita Suzuki (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor                     13.38
28 Tim Olson (USA) Trek/VW                                   13.40
29 Sam Jurekovic (USA) U23 National Team                     14.38
30 Cody Peterson (USA) 3D Racing/Sram/Lfp&Co                 14.50
31 Colin Cares (USA) U23 National Team                       15.42
32 Bart Gillespie (USA) Raliegh Factory Team                 15.45
33 Miguel Valadez (Mex) Tecate Mex                           15.52
34 Douglas Ryden (USA) Pro Cycling                           16.03
35 Michael Lee (USA) Trek/VW/JBL                             16.05
36 Thomas Spannring (Aut) Cole Sport                         16.09
37 Leonardo Sandoval (USA) Bicycle John's/Kenda/MGTec        16.12
38 Evan Plews (USA) Santiam Bicycles                         16.25
39 Adam Snyder (USA) Balance Bar/Devo                        16.40
40 Michael Janelle (USA) Tokyo Joes/Go Lite                  16.41
41 Nick Martin (USA) Trek-VW                                 16.42
42 Charles Jenkins (USA) Cytomax/KHS                         16.50
43 Andy Schultz (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale                  16.57
44 Jason Sager (USA) Hotel San Jose/Cannondale               17.03
45 Ben Thompson (USA) Santiam Bicycles/ Breakaway            17.10
46 Nick Ranno (USA) Trek/VW                                  17.33
47 Dana Weber (USA) Jax Bicycle Center                       18.06
48 Clint Muhlfeld (USA) Sportsman Ski Hau-Cannondale         18.43
49 Ross Schnell (USA) Trek VW                                18.55
50 Mike Andres (USA) TM Chico                                20.23
51 Aren Timmel (USA) Soul Craft                              20.59
52 Sean Donovan (USA) Cytomax/KHS                            22.19
53 Troy Wells (USA) TIAA-CREF                                23.12
54 Gordon Yanota (USA) Flat Tire Bike Shop                   23.13
55 Brig Brandt (USA) Bend Elite                              23.51
56 Carlos Mayoral (Mex) Turbo                                23.53
57 Patrick Bush (USA) Clif Bar                               24.22
58 Noah Singer (USA) Bearnaked/Cannondale                    24.26
59 Ryan Artale (USA)                                         24.30
60 Mike Joos (USA) FLC                                       27.21
61 Nicholas Stevens (GBr) Fuentes Design/Waltworks           27.35
62 Andrew Freye (USA) Bikeman.Com/Salsa Cycles               28.00
63 Steve Kinney (USA) Steven K Sports                        28.08
64 Lance Runyan (USA) Titus Cycles                           28.39
65 Charles Pendry (USA) Inland - Btd                         29.23
66 Austin Carroll (USA) Team Devo                            29.32
67 Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn) Bridgestone Anchor                 30.59
68 Kamden Reedy (USA) Titus Cycles                           31.23
69 Paul Freiwald (USA) Titus Cycles                          31.27
70 Daniel Corum (USA) Inland/Rtd                             32.43
71 Lucas Livermon (USA) Cylcing Spoken Here                  37.19
72 Shannon Boffeli (USA) Revolution Mtn Sports/Crank Bros    37.37
73 Matt Freeman (USA) Team Redlands/Trek                     39.28
74 Mitchell Peterson (USA) Devo                              43.36
75 Noah Holcomb (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale                       
DNF Patrick Brown (USA) Trek/VW                                   
DNF Kyle Dixon (USA) Bicycle Warehouse                            
DNF Paul Hanson (USA)                                             
DNF Rick Wetherald (USA) Tamarack Resort                          
DNF Ariel Lindsley (USA) Maverick                                 
DNF Bear Perrin (USA) Kenda/Jamis                                 
DNF Roddi Lega (Can) Norco Factory Team                           
DNF Gordon Yanota (USA) Wheelsinmotion/Giant                      
DNF Christian Favata (USA) OverlookMTB/Hutchinson/Spy             
DNF Cale Redpath (USA) 3D Racing                                  
DNF Mike West (USA) Maverick                                      
DNF Travis Woodruff (USA) Litespeed/Pcw                           
DNF Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis                            
DNF Perry Paolini (USA) Amgen Cycling                             
DNF Hal Helbock (USA) Cytomax/KHS                                 
Pro women
1 Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) Luna Womens MTB Team          1.47.59
2 Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mtn Business Objects               0.57
3 Jimena Florit (Arg) Luna Womens MTB                         0.58
4 Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher                    2.36
5 Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher                     3.12
6 Dara Marks-Marino (USA) Titus/Kenda                         3.47
7 Susan Haywood (USA) Trek-Volkswagen                         4.16
8 Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Womens MTB Team                    4.48
9 Wendy Simms (Can) Velo Bella/Kona                           5.11
10 Kathy Sherwin (USA) Ford Cycling                           6.48
11 Mical Dyck (Can) Terrascape Racing                         6.52
12 Jamie Whitmore (USA) Felt Racing                           7.51
13 Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Womens MTB                        8.01
14 Jennifer Smith (NZl) Trek/VW                               9.05
15 Lea Davison (USA) Trek/VW                                 10.09
16 Tomarra Muhlfeld (USA) Trek/VW                            10.42
17 Nina Baum (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale                     10.54
18 Jenna Zander (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale                  12.33
19 Zephanie Blasi (USA) Kenda/Gu/Reno Wheelman               14.38
20 Chloe Forsman (USA) Tokyo Joes                            15.32
21 Kelli Emmett (USA) Ford Cycling                           15.41
22 Heather Svahn (USA) Reno Whhelmen/Backcountry             16.03
23 Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (USA) Ford Cycling                   17.04
24 Chris Costa (USA) Tamarack                                17.35
25 Kyia Malenkovich (USA) Headmethod.Com                     18.16
26 Carolyn Popovic (USA) MTBikechicks.Com/Cannondale         18.27
27 Stacey Scanlan (USA) Tamarack                             19.16
28 Paula Burks (USA) Vantaggio/Specialized                   22.05
29 Cassandra Perkins (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale             22.26
30 Jennifer Wilson (USA)                                     22.43
31 Christine Misseghers (Can) Mountain Bike City             22.58
32 Laura Anderson (USA)                                      23.13
33 Shannon Gibson (USA) Crazy Cat Cyclery/Yeti Grassroots    23.48
34 Sue Abbene (USA) Raleigh Facotry                          23.53
35 Leah Guloien (USA) TM Sugoi/Giant                         23.54
36 Kristy Lanier-Mantz (USA) Dirtbean                        24.44
37 Christie Pleiss (USA) TM K&N Performance                  24.55
38 Jean Ann McKirdy (Can) Rocky Mtn/Business Objects         26.38
39 Hilary Wright (USA) Devo                                  27.03
40 Jennifer Hanks (USA) Revolution Mtn Sports                27.26
41 Becca Blay (USA) Team Dean                                27.36
42 Kimberly Flynn (USA) Vantaggio/ Specialized               28.25
43 Theresa Richardson (USA) Bear Naked/Cannondale            28.35
44 Teri Strayer (USA) TM K&N Perfomance                      29.08
45 Rebecca Gross (USA) Armed Forces                          29.43
46 Meggan Flaherty (USA) Bicylce Johns/Serious Cycling       30.15
47 Shannon Holden (USA) Velo Bella/Kona                      30.27
48 Kim Passafiume (USA) Velo Bella                           32.22
49 Christina Smith (USA) Orthopedic Store.Com                32.51
50 Krista Park (USA) Colavita/Addictive Cycles               33.53
51 Kristi Lewis (USA) Orbea                                  35.39
52 Mary-Ellen Ash (USA) 3 Rox Racing                         36.15
53 Jennifer Tilley (USA) Kona/Velo Bella                     43.14
54 Chrissy Bono (USA) Bicycle Johns Serious Cycling          43.31
55 Sami Fournier (USA) Velo Bella/Kona                       47.50
56 Susan Grandjean (USA)                                     59.55
DNF Ann Fitzsimmons (USA) Schwalbe Tires                          
DNF Patricia Sinclair (Can) Scott USA/Kenda                       
DNF Abigail Hippely (USA) Maverick                                
DNF Susie Fiore (USA) Colavita                                    
DNF Catherine Pendrel (Can) Norco                                 
DNF Kristina Andrus (USA)