July 15, 2006 (Sonoma, Calif.) – Two first-time winners stood atop the podium at the 2006 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships brought to you by X-Fusion Friday as Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore./Kona-Les Gets) and Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho/Luna) captured national titles in the elite cross country event.
Their surprising performances earned them each an automatic nomination to represent the United States at the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships later this summer in New Zealand and represent a possible changing of the guard on the domestic pro mountain bike circuit.
After riding to his first career National Mountain Bike Series victory in June, the 25-year-old Trebon took his biggest win to date claiming the most prestigious one-day mountain bike race in the United States in solo fashion after an early-race attack went unmatched by his competitors.
On the first of four laps around a 7.7-mile undulating circuit through Infineon Raceway, Trebon attacked and managed to escape from the 48-rider field. By the time he had completed the second lap, Trebon had amassed a 1:30 advantage on a four-rider chase group that contained defending national champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Gary Fisher), Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.GT-Hyundai), Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./Trek-Volkswagen) and Kona-Les Gets teammate Barry Wicks (Santa Cruz, Calif.). Another 1:30 off the pace sat a second chase group of Adam Craig (Bend, Ore./Giant), Carl Decker (Bend, Ore./Giant) and Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass./Seven Cycles).
As Trebon continued to focus on his solo effort, the first chase group worked together until Wells attacked. The effort resulted in the loss of Horgan-Kobelski who dropped off the pace, leaving three candidates in pursuit of Trebon. Wells then crashed on the course’s descent, eliminating him from contention.
“We had four, and then Todd attacked on the climb and that’s what got rid of JHK,” explained Wicks after the race. “Then, we were going down the last descent and it was really slippery and Todd was taking some risks to keep the gap down. I let him gap me because I didn’t want to crash. I was keeping it safe. I didn’t expect him to crash, but I knew when he went down that he wasn’t getting back up. At that point it was just me and Jeremiah.”
At the 23-mile mark, Trebon held a 1:20 lead over Wicks and Bishop. With a teammate up ahead, Wicks had no reason to chase and instead let Bishop do the work, eventually wearing him down.
“He (Bishop) chased really hard and I could tell that he was really starting to hurt and began cramping up. I kind of just rolled past him and kept the same pace and he couldn’t keep it up. I didn’t even have to really attack.”
After Horgan-Kobelski and Bishop succumbed to their chase efforts and Wells crashed, Trebon needed only to maintain his pace and avoid a mechanical mishap or crash to claim his first-ever national title.
“I’ve always come so close to winning one, especially in cyclo-cross,” said Trebon after the race. “It’s frustrating to come close and not win them, so it’s nice to finally get a monkey off my back and get a big one.”
Wicks meanwhile grabbed second, 54 seconds back, giving the Kona-Les Gets team the top-two podium spots and notching one of his biggest career rides.
“This is way beyond my expectations for the weekend, so I’m excited,” said Wicks. “I’ve beat all these guys before, but never in a race like this. This is a pretty big deal, so it’s definitely my best-ever result.”
Bishop claimed third place, 1:28 back – a solid result after spending most of the day mounting the chase of Trebon.
One of the pre-race favorites, Horgan-Kobelski managed to secure a place on the podium, finishing 2:50 off the pace of Trebon to place fourth.
“It was a tough day for me out there,” explained outgoing champion Horgan-Kobelski. “It was actually a lot more tactical than I thought. Other than Ryan having the legs to get off the front, there was a flurry of attacks right at the beginning of the race and drafting played a pretty big role out there. The guys that were doing a lot of work definitely paid for it.”
Of the three riders in the second chase group, Craig emerged in the best position to claim the final podium spot, placing fifth, 3:11 behind Trebon.
In the women’s event, the 26-year-old Gould, a relative newcomer to the elite ranks of the sport, also finished the race in solo fashion, crossing the line 1:29 ahead of Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Gary Fisher) to claim her first career stars-and-stripes jersey.
“This is the best result ever,” an elated Gould said after crossing the finish line. “I’m really blown away. It’s a little overwhelming.”
Early in the race, Irmiger and teammate Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C./Subaru-Gary Fisher) paired up in a dual effort and began to pull away from the remainder of the field until both went down in a crash on a descent. Koerber wouldn’t continue, but Irmiger recovered only to fall victim to a late race surge by Gould.
“I just wanted to see what was going on, how everyone was feeling and so I was just waiting for the first half of the race,” explained Gould of her tactics early on. “Then, I just started riding steady and I knew Heather was riding strong and I figured I’d try to attack her a little earlier and take my chances. I didn’t look back. I just wanted to go by my own pace and it worked out.”
Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass./Seven Cycles) posted a strong third-place finish, 3:35 off the pace, followed by Dara Marks-Marino (Flagstaff, Ariz./Titus-Kenda) at 4:58. Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va./Trek-Volkswagen) completed the podium with a fifth-place effort 5:45 back.
The 2006 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships brought to you by X-Fusion continues Saturday as pro men’s and women’s mountain cross highlights the schedule.
Pro Men (30.8 miles, 4 laps)
1. Ryan Trebon (Kona/Clark/Les Gets, Ventura)
2. Barry Wicks (AEG-Tosh, Santa Cruz)
3. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW, Harrisonburg, VA)
4. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher, Boulder, CO)
5. Adam Craig (Giant, Bend, OR)
6. Todd Wells (GT Bicycle, Durango, CO)
7. Carl Decker (Broadmark Capital, Bend, OR)
8. Michael Broderick (Seven Cycles/Kenda, Chilmark, MA)
9. Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies, Davis, WV)
10. Jeff Schalk (Trek-VW, Washington, DC)
11. Aren Timmel (Soulcraft, Chico)
12. Jay Henry (NA, Avon, CO)
13. Alan Obye (SRAM, Colorado Springs, CO)
14. Andy Schultz (Bear Naked Cannondale, Missoula, MT)
15. Erik Tonkin (Kona/Team S&M, Portland, OR)
Pro Women (23.1 miles, 3 laps)
1. Georgia Gould (Luna Women, Ketchum, ID)
2. Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher, Boulder, CO)
3. Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles/Kenda, Fairfax)
4. Dara Marks Marino (Titus/Kenda, Flagstaff, AR)
5. Susan Haywood (Trek/VW, Harrisonburg, VA)
6. Jennifer Wilson (Titus Grassroots, El Paso, TX)
7. Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Women, Durango, CO)
8. Jamie Whitmore (Felt Racing, Mt. Aukum)
9. Melissa Thomas (Tokyo Joe’s , Boulder, CO)
10. Kathy Sherwin (Ford Cycling, Heber City, UT)
11. Sarah Barber (Tamarack, Boise, ID)
12. Stacey Scanlan (Tamarack, Boise, ID)
13. Shannon Gibson (Crazy Cat, El Paso, TX)
14. Alice Pennington (Desalvo, Hood River, OR)
15. Kelli Emmett (Ford Cycling, Colorado Springs, CO)
COMPLETE RESULTS <http://www.norbanationals.com/results/index2006.shtml>