Herndon, Buhl descend to dual slalom crowns
After three consecutive trips to the podium, Adam Craig (Bend, Ore./Giant) earned his first pro men's national cross country mountain bike title on Saturday as the 2007 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships brought to you by X-Fusion continued at Mount Snow Resort. Craig turned in a dominant performance in the 20-mile race, earning the stars-and-stripes jersey with a winning time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 31 seconds - a 4min 26sec advantage over second-place finisher and defending bronze medalist Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./TrekVW). Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven) finished third, 6:35 off Craig's pace to score arguably the best result of his career.
Craig flirted with a national title with a second-place finish in the first single-day national championship in 2004 and followed up that performance with a third-place effort in 2005 before placing fifth in 2006. Fresh off his gold medal at the XV Pan American Games last weekend in Brazil, Craig kept his form to notch the most significant win of his career.
"This and World Cup podiums are even," said Craig, equating his performance to the world-class circuit. "It's good to finally win, and this is the best place I could think of to race bikes and win a championship," the New England native continued.
Competing over four laps of a five-mile circuit, Craig took the lead from the gun and held off all of the pre-race favorites including defending champion Ryan Trebon (Ventura, Calif./Kona), four-time national cross country champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Gary Fisher), Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./GT Bikes), Barry Wicks (Corvallis, Ore./Kona) and Bishop. At the conclusion of the first lap, Craig had opened up a 1:30 gap on Bishop. That difference increased to 3:00 at the race's midway mark and 3:45 at the start of the bell lap. By the finish, Craig had emphatically left his mark on one of the classic competitive mountain bike venues in the country.
"Starting fast has always backfired on me," Craig later explained of his tactics. "I started sort of slow, got a gap and the gap got bigger. I just enjoyed myself and rode my own pace. I figured if I didn't crash or do anything stupid, I'd be alright."
The wet and technical conditions at a lower-altitude venue meant Bishop, another East Coast native, would be a solid contender for the national title this year, but his efforts fell just short.
"I'm disappointed, but I'm pleased as far as my preparation and effort goes," Bishop commented. "At the national championships, finishing second definitely feels like the first loser, there's no such things as a vice-national champ. Peaking for nationals was one of my main goals of my season. I know what I can do and this isn't even close."
Broderick, who consistently competes on the World Cup circuit and is ranked 72nd in the world, hasn't accumulated many podium finishes at national-level races in the U.S., but has turned in promising performances at international races over the last several years including a tenth-place effort at the Pan American Championships in March and several top-five finishes at UCI category-1 events in Puerto Rico, Great Britain and Canada. His third-place ride at the national championships on Saturday earned him his most notable result on American soil.
Behind Broderick, Horgan-Kobelski finished fourth, 8:52 back and Wells rounded out the five-man podium, 9:12 down.
In the other major pro event on Saturday, Christopher Herndon (Etowah, N.C./Specialized-Cane Creek) descended to a national title in the men's dual slalom, while Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz./KHS) captured the women's crown. The eighth-seeded Herndon outrode seventh-seeded Rich Houseman (Oceanside, Calif./Yeti-Fox) in men's final after all of the top seeds were eliminated in the earlier rounds. In the women's contest, the top seeds progressed to the final as the top-seeded Buhl ousted Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif./Jamis), the number-two seed, for the win.
In the consolation rounds, George Stephenson (Folsom, Calif./Northern Lights) won the bronze medal over Joe Haley (Raleigh, N.C./Eastern Bikes-Maxxis) in the men's category, while Lisa Myklak (Boulder, Colo./Leelikesbikes.com) beat Caroline Jarolimek (Silverthorne, Colo./The Fix) in the women's division.
In other open competition on Saturday, Nathan Wyatt (Ashville, N.C.) and Jennifer Tribe-Wilson (El Paso, Texas) earned national titles in the men's and women's singlespeed event. Also, Mike Steidley (New Haven, Conn.) and Brian Yezierski (Middleton, Conn.) won the stock and modified trials competitions respectively.
The 2007 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships brought to you by X-Fusion conclude on Sunday as pro men's and women's downhill and pro men's and women's short track cross country highlight the schedule.
Pro men cross country
1 Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) 2:16:31
2 Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) 0:04:26
3 Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass.) 0:06:35
4 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) 0:08:52
5 Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) 0:09:12
Pro men dual slalom
1 Christopher Herndon (Etowah, N.C.)
2 Rich Houseman (Oceanside, Calif.)
3 George Stephenson (Folsom, Calif.)
4 Joe Haley (Raleigh, N.C.)
Pro women dual slalom
1 Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.)
2 Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.)
3 Lisa Myklak (Boulder, Colo.)
4 Caroline Jarolimek (Silverthorne, Colo.)
Men open singlespeed cross-country
1 Nathan Wyatt (Ashville, N.C.) 2:10:08
2 John Foley (Sturbridge, Mass.) 0:01:15
3 Dusty Labarr (Ketchum, Idaho) 0:02:45
4 Thom Parsons (Somerville, Mass.) 0:03:41
5 Paul Simoes (Rutland, Mass.) 0:04:29
Women open singlespeed cross-country
1 Jennifer Tribe-Wilson (El Paso, Texas) 1:41:09
2 Betsy Shogren (Morgantown, W.V.) 0:09:44
3 Alexandria Fabbro (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) 0:22:05
4 Ellen White (Hohokus, N.J.) 0:23:44
5 Carol Clemens (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 0:30:31
Observed trials - men stock
1 Mike Steidley (New Haven, Conn.) 8
2 Trevor Young (Longmeadow, Mass.) 72
3 Gary Lessner III (Stewartstown, Pa.) 78
4 Zack White (Chickamauga, Ga.) 80
5 Ken Cleveland (Hollis, N.H.) 80
Observed trials - men modified
1 Brian Yezierski (Middleton, Conn.) 17
2 Joe Janicki (Branford, Conn.) 58