Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain/Maxxis) is chased by Max Plaxton (Shoair/Specialized) on March 29. Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net
Canadian Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) surged on the final lap to overtake Sho-Air/Specialized's Max Plaxton and secure the win in the Pro XCT's inaugural event, the Fontana City National in Southridge, California March 29.
American Georgia Gould (LunaChix) powered to victory over Canadian teammate Catherine Pendrel using the course's long, flat finish to take the just over 30-second win in the women's Pro XCT race.
With the wins, Kabush and Gould take the early lead on the seven-event Pro XCT. The latest version of the USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour presented by Sho-air standings is as follows:
Men's Individual Standings
1. Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) 100; 2. Max Plaxton (Sho-air-Specialized) 95; 3. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) 90; 4. Sam Schultz (Subaru-Gary Fisher) 85; 5. Adam Craig (Giant) 80.
The second race on the 2009 Pro XCT will be the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California on April 19.
BikeRadar spoke with Marc Gullickson, USA Cycling's mountain bike and cyclo-cross programme director and former professional racer, about the new series and what it means for professional mountain bike racing in the United States.
BikeRadar: This new series seems like a big deal; how does it compare to the days when you raced NORBA?
Marc Gullickson: Mountain bike racing in the US was on a big popularity spike when I was racing in the early and mid 1990s. Obviously it ended up coming down a bit and for the past couple years our National race calendar has been kind of looking for a new direction. With Kelli Lusk -- our new events director -- working hard, I think we're seeing a big step this year toward giving our best Elite as well as our younger talent a bigger and more clearly defined domestic stage to put their focus into.
The quality of racing in Europe has gone up a lot since the time I was racing the NORBA series so right now it’s less likely that our domestic calendar will draw the top talent from Europe. That’s not to say that the won’t come back but now there are a lot of UCI points and good National Series races in Europe, so that’s why we're not seeing as many of the top European riders at all our big races.
The UCI points carrot will certainly draw the big-name racers, and hopefully the crowds. How did you guys pull it off?
Kelli basically told promoters that although they may not recognize the immediate benefit of putting on a UCI race, our riders will benefit and their race will also as the Pro XCT picks up momentum this year and beyond. All the races on the Pro XCT calendar are UCI races and that’s a big step in the right direction. The points will pull the best riders and that in turn will make the events into the best in the country.
What are your hopes for the 2009 season?
I truly think that Pro XCT will build into an overwhelming success. In the first year there will be a bit of a learning curve for everyone and I think by the end of the year when the overall leaders are awarded in Las Vegas everyone will be on the same page and I think very happy with what Kelli has put together.
(Title sponsor) ShoAir has also thrown a lot into the series and it’s great to see someone stepping up like that. I think they will see a big return on their commitment on bringing top level mountain bike racing back to the racers.