Chris Eatough (Trek/Volkswagen) and Pua Sawicki (Team Ergon-Ellsworth/MATA) were crowned USA Cycling’s solo 24-hour mountain bike champions in Wausau, Wisconsin on July 29.
The 2007 USA Cycling 24 Hour Mountain Bike National Championships awarded stars-and-stripes jerseys in nine different 24-hour categories. Eatough (Baldwin, Maryland) won the national championship for the fourth year in a row on the men’s side and Sawicki (Mililani, Hawaii) brought home the gold for the women.
After trailing Nat Ross (Golden, Colorado/Subaru-Gary Fisher) for the first eight hours of the competition, Eatough defended his title by completing 20 laps on the 14-mile course, less than one lap ahead of second place finisher Ross. Bronze medalist, Mark Hendershot (Grand Rapids, Michigan), was also right on their heels, finishing 19 laps and six minutes off the average lap time of Eatough.
“I had a good competitor today in Nat Ross,” Eatough said. “He pushed the pace and brought the race to me.” Eatough held a lead of less than a minute after more than 10 hours, before finally stretching the margin during the evening hours.
“The race was really never certain until the end,” Eatough added. “With the race close, one mechanical breakdown can cost you the lead. I try to ride smooth and safe, and pick good equipment. I felt good and was confident going in, but these races are always so tough that there certainly was some trepidation. I like technical and this course consisted of a lot of twisty-turny single track, so it suited me well.”
It took 18 laps for Sawicki to sew up the women’s solo title, one better than second place finisher Rebecca Rusch (Ketchum, Idaho/Specialized). Danielle Musto (Grand Rapids, Michigan) completed 16 laps to finish third out of the 12 women who tackled the grueling solo race.
Sawicki quickly built a three-minute lead in the first lap over Rusch, a lead Sawicki never relinquished.
Sawicki was forced out of last year’s 24 Hours of Nine Mile National Championships, succumbing to injuries sustained in an earlier mountain bike accident.
“Pua knows this can be a brutal course, but she’s very motivated,” said Ron Sawicki, manager for Team MATA. Next stop for Sawicki and Team MATA is the World Championships in September.