June 19, 2005 (Park City, Utah) – Round three of the 2005 Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series continued on Saturday as two-time New Zealand Olympic team member Kaschi Leuchs and defending NORBA Champion Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) captured wins yesterday in the cross country event.
Leuchs, who posted the first significant win of his career at Deer Valley in 1999, attacked in the final half lap and held off Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) and Ryan Trebon (Corvallis, Ore.) to claim his first NORBA National win in six years.
By the end of the first of three laps on an eight mile circuit, Leuchs, Horgan-Kobelski, Trebon and Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) had established an advantage over the rest of the field and barring any mechanical failures of crashes, it was clear that today’s winner would come from the strong group of four accomplished riders. By the end of the second lap, the trio had shed Wells while Leuchs dangled 15 seconds behind Horgan-Kobelski and Trebon. After settling into a rhythm for much of the previous lap, Leuchs slowly reattached himself to the leaders and then attacked with four miles remaining in what proved to be the decisive move when neither of his competitors could respond.
“That was a good ride for me,” Leuchs said afterwards. “I was feeling pretty good the whole race. Ryan attacked on second lap, and I decided to let him go. I think that was smart because I rode my own pace in the second lap, and then on the third lap I was feeling strong. I just went to the front on the back of the course and it was a long, long singletrack section and just rode as hard as I could. It took about 15 minutes until finally I got rid of them. I just put my head down and sucked it up.”
Horgan-Kobelski looked like the strongest rider on the course for much of the day, but afterwards he admitted he may not have been the most intelligent. “I really felt like the strongest guy out there for a while,” he said, “but I don’t think I was the smartest guy today. I think I used a little too much energy on those first couple of laps. I felt so good I think I just rode a little too hard at the beginning and I definitely paid for it in the last lap. When Kaschi attacked I just didn’t quite have it to go with him.”
In the women’s race, Vanlandingham set up her Luna team for a sweep of the weekend’s three cross country events with a convincing win in today’s 16-mile race. Racing on the same eight-mile circuit as the men, Vanlandingham had solidified her lead ahead of Heather Irminger (Boulder, Colo.), Dara Marks-Marino (Flagstaff, Ariz.) and Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) by the end of the first lap.
While Vanlandingham maintained her lead to the finish, the up and coming Irminger held on for an impressive second place finish – her best-ever in a NORBA National cross country race – while Haywood took third.
Round three of the Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series concludes on Sunday with the third and final stage of the cross country stage race, the short track event. With Katerina Hanusova (CZE) posting a win in Friday’s time trial, and Vanlandingham riding to a victory in today’s stage, the Luna squad is poised for a sweep of the weekend’s women’s cross country events. Also on Sunday are the men’s and women’s downhill finals.