SNOW SUMMIT, Calif. (May 10, 2002) – As the defending series leader, the World Cup Champion, and the World Cross Country Champion, Canadian Roland Green is always the favourite.
But at the opening round of the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championship
Mountain Bike Series, Green had to be more than a great racer; he had to
“My cleat came lose on my shoe on the second lap,” said Green. “I had to
stop and fix it. I lost about three minutes.”
Green would stop, fix his shoe, and plow through nearly 30 riders to
return to the lead. He would win with a 1:10 margin over the surprising
Ziranda Madrigal (Turbo), who outsprinted Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru/Gary
Fisher) for second. Geoff Kabush (Kona), also from Canada, who led on the third lap,
outsprinted Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (RLX Polo Sport), for
Green had watched the Madrigal, a 24-year-old Mexican, roar away, turning
a 33-minute opening lap.
“I was feeling pretty good and from the beginning I thought the pace
wasn’t not so fast,” said Madrigal. “I take my chance.”
He calmly pushed forward and started the second lap with Hesjedal,
Horgan-Kobelski and Kabush. Defending U.S. champion and two-time Snow
Summit winner, Kirk Molday (SunRace/Santa Cruz) rode close behind with his
young rival, Todd Wells (Mongoose).
Then things came apart. Madrigal pushed on alone; Molday crashed out;
Hesjedal struggled; and Green found himself with a shoe off and his tools
“The tendency is to panic. You’re at the front of a big race. And the win
might be getting away from you but you’ve got to stay relaxed,” said
Green. “I just came back at my own pace. Within a lap I was right back at
Green returned to find his friend, Hesjedal with Madrigal and Kabush away.
Hesjedal noted he wasn’t waiting for Green, his training partner. “I don’t
know if it was strategy. I wasn’t feeling all that well today. . Things
were looking pretty bleak today and I lost contact there for a little
while,” said the tall Canadian.
By the start of the final lap, Green had harvested all the fugitives and
started the climb with Hesjedal and Madrigal; Kabush and Horgan-Kobelski
followed just 20 seconds behind. Then Green pulled the pin.
The World Champion dropped all and went clear. Madrigal, neared the top
and dropped Hesjedal.
Green would pry open a minute on the final lap. Radio reports gave the
crowd indications of a string of solo finishers. Green rolled in alone.
But then fireworks started and they got two fantastic sprints.
“Ziranda was climbing really well today. Last section of climbing he went
over pretty decent,” said Hesjedal, who descended his way back to
contention. “You always have to think you’ve got a chance on the downhill.
I just rode home. It just came back together and it turns into a road race
there. I knew you had to get around that last corner in the lead I tried
to come through on the inside.”
Hesjedal stuck his front wheel into the rear of Madrigal’s machine, but
could not force himself through. Madrigal hung on for second.
“I’ve been watching him the last few years coming up and this course
really suits him with all the climbing and the altitude,” said Green.
“Coming from Mexico at the front of the NORBA it’s good representation for
The sprint for fourth proved equally thrilling as Horgan-Kobelski also
tried to push through on Kabush. His inside dive proved nearly disastrous.
“I thought I might be able to get Kabush on the inside of that corner and,
well, I hit the barrier pretty hard. I heard it clang; I don’t know if
anybody else did,” said Horgan-Kobelski, who kept it up barely to finish
“Hopefully it will heal up by tomorrow,” said the national short-track
champion who missed his college graduation from the University of Colorado
Series Website: http://www.usacycling.org/mtb/?events/ncs.html