Gould, Wells claim pro cross country titles

From USA Cycling....

Granby, Colo. (July 17, 2010) – The 2010 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships continued at the SolVista Bike Park at Granby Ranch on Saturday with the pro cross country and four-cross competitions taking center stage. Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna Pro Team) and Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized) dominated the pro cross country fields to take the wins on a hot and dusty course. In the action-paced pro four-cross contests, it was Ross Milan (Arvada, Colo./Yeti-Cycles) and Neven Steinmetz (Boulder, Colo./Ellsworth Bikes) to grab the national titles.

A stacked pro field of some of the world’s top female mountain bikers toed the line just before noon for four laps on the 4.32 mile cross country loop. The contenders got away early, using the opening climb to separate themselves on lap one. That early lead group consisted of Georgia Gould, defending champ Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Trek), Willow Koerber (Durango, Colo./Subaru-Trek), and Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Planet Bike) while former Olympian Mary McConneloug (Fairfax, Calif./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) got stronger and stronger with each lap and eventually worked her way within striking distance of the leaders. Gould dominated the race, and after an hour and 45 minutes of racing, she soloed over the line to upset defending champ Irmiger and slip into the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.

“I just went to the front and just tried to stay steady. It’s kind of hard. You’re so nervous and so pumped up and it’s hard to not go out too hard but the altitude can shut you down pretty quick,” explained Gould after her win. “So I tried to always have a little bit in reserve which is good because by the last lap, I was like ‘Come on legs, one more time up this climb’.”

About two-and-a-half minutes after Gould crossed the line, Irmiger rode in for the silver. Koerber followed for the bronze while McConneloug and Compton rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth.

Check out to see the video of Georgia talking about her race.

Following the women’s show-down, 47 pro men lined up to contest five laps of the course in the mid-afternoon heat. Todd Wells took his first pro cross country national title, as well as an automatic nomination to the world championship squad, after a dominating performance over the 24 miles. With a comfortable lead of nearly two-and-a-half minutes on defending champ Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Trek), Wells soloed over the line for the victory to a cheering crowd. JHK followed for the silver while Ryan Trebon (Bend, Ore./KONA) grabbed the bronze about a minute later. Adam Craig (Bend, Ore./Giant-Rabobank) and Peter Stetina (Boulder, Colo./Team Garmin-Transitions) rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth.

“I knew I had good form,” Todd said after claiming the national title. “And I had been home, able to train at altitude which is big here since we’re up at 9,000 feet. I’d done a lot of training leading up to this race and I was tapering pretty well. I stayed healthy and thought I’d have a good shot.”

Click here to see a post-win interview with Todd on USA Cycling’s You Tube page.

Several classes of category one riders contested their cross country races Saturday morning as well. In the men’s 19-24 group, Lucas Perez (Durango, Colo.) rode his way into a Stars-and-Stripes jersey while Peter Kalmes (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) grabbed the gold medal in the 25-29 group. Among men age 30-34, John Searles (Albuquerque, NM/Café Giuseppe) was the fastest of the day while Kyle Dixon (Reno, Nev./Reno Wheelmen) took top honors among men 35-39. Taking home a national title from the men’s 40-44 event was Dario Fredrick (San Anselmo, Calif./Whole Athlete) while Michael Hogan (Los Angeles, Calif./Justin’s) was crowned champ among men 45-49. In the 50-54 group, Russell Kappius (Littleton, Colo.) rode his way to the podium’s top step and Ned Overend (Durango, Colo.) won the Single Speed category. In women’s category one racing, Sarah Rawley (Golden, Colo./Yeti Beti) grabbed the national title among the ladies in the 19-24 age group while Kelsy Bingham (Ogden, Utah) was victorious in the 25-29 field. Amber Broch (Reno, Nev.) was the fastest woman aged 30-34 while Abbie Durkee (Inverness, Calif.) was the fastest in the 35-39 group. Helene Drumm (San Anselmo, Calif./Peanut Butter & Co) earned a national title by winning the women’s 40-44 race and Sarah Tescher (Durango, Colo.) took the top prize in the single speed category.

Additionally, eight national titles were bestowed upon masters cross country racers. Mark Soderberg (Conifer, Colo.) climbed his way onto the podium’s top step after winning the men’s 55-59 race while Steve Becker (Prescott, Ariz.) claimed top honors among men 60-64. In the 65-69 group, it was Robert Dahlgren (Burbank, Calif.) to take the win. Frederic Schmid (Waco, Texas/Bicycles Outback) grabbed the gold medal for the men’s 70+ race. In women’s racing, Anne Gonzales (Aspen, Colo.) rode to the national championship in the 45-49 event. Sheryl Loan (Eagle River, Ark.) won the 50-54 group while Marti Merritt and Martha Iverson (Durango Wheel Club) were victorious in the 55-59 and 60+ women’s categories.

As evening approached, spectators made their way up the mountain for several action-packed four-cross competitions. The pro men’s and women’s contests saw Ross Milan (Arvada, Colo./Yeti-Cycles) and Neven Steinmetz (Boulder, Colo./Ellsworth Bikes) beat out some tough competition to climb onto the top step of the podium. In the men’s four-man main, Milan bested Brian Buell (Jamestown, Colo./Team Geronimo), Barry Nobles (Wetumpka, Ala.), and Erik Nelson (Gilbert, Ariz.) to take the win while Blake Carney (Camarillo, Calif.) won the race for the podium’s fifth spot. The women’s event saw Steinmetz win against Jacqueline Harmony (Sedona, Ariz./Vixen Racing), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz./KHS Bicycles), and Catherine Cantway (Steamboat Springs, Colo.).

Sam Powers (Lyons, Colo./Redstone Cyclery) won the men’s 15-18 four-man main to slip into a national champion’s jersey while Hunter Matson (Tijeras, NM/Bike Workds-Commencal) grabbed the win among men 19-29. In the 30-39 age group, it was Jeff Kegu (Leadville, Colo./Neverest) to out-ride the other three for the win and in the men’s 40+ category, John Lewis (Boulder, Colo./Sports Garage-Yeti) beat out his competition for the national title.

In addition to all of the cross country and four-cross action, several categories of amateur riders contested their downhill time tests on Saturday. In the junior men’s competitions, Joseph Foresta (South Jordan, Utah) descended to the gold medal in the boy’s ten and under category while Wyatt Freier (Bayfield, Colo./RPM-Yeti Development Racing) and Jay Fesperman (Davidson, NC/Grom Racing) grabbed the national titles in the 11-12 and 13-14 groups. In the 15-16 event, it was Madison Bailey (Carbondale, Colo.) to ride his way into a Stars-and-Stripes jersey. Among junior women 15-18, Cierra Smith (Reno, Nev./Specialized-Allride) was the fastest.

The category one men and women descended a 1.2 mile course into the SolVista Basin Base Lodge. In the 19-24 group, Robert Stenson (Absolute Bikes Team Tempe) clocked a time of 2:34.41 to claim the national title while Spencer Mehr (Saint George, Utah) posted a 2:40.28 to win the top honor in the men’s 25-29 contest. Damion Smith (Golden, Colo./Yeti Cycles) grabbed the 30-34 win, Tyler Earnheart (Bellingham, Wash.) took the gold in the 35-39 group, and Neal Pederson (Los Alamos, NM) descended to victory in the men’s 40-44 contest. Among men 45-49, Greg Herbold (Ignacio, Colo./SRAM) was the fastest and in the men’s 50+ group, Les Price (Scottsdale, Ariz.) won the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
Lauren Heitzman (Lakewood, Colo./MOJO-Wheels) was the fastest down the mountain in the women’s 19-29 competition and Melissa O’Connell (Denver, Colo.) was the top rider of the day among women 30-39.

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