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Horgan-Kobelski Favored for This Weekend’s MTB Nationals

JHK at the Sand Creek International PRO XCT this spring. -By Brad KaminskiJeremy Horgan-Kobelski is making room in his closet for another stars and stripes jersey.

Maybe two.

Less than one month after taking the marathon cross-country national championship race, held at the Firecracker 50 race in Breckenridge, Colorado, Horgan-Kobelski comes into this weekend’s USA Cycling mountain bike national championships in nearby Granby as the odds-on favorite to win.

The question is whether JHK will finish the month of July owning all three endurance mountain bike titles: marathon, cross-country and short track. No one has achieved the trifecta since USA Cycling introduced the marathon championships in 2005.

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking that (winning three titles) is possible, but everything would have to come together perfectly,” Horgan-Kobelski told VeloNews. “I felt really good at marathon nats, and I’d be really happy to feel that good again this weekend.”

Horgan-Kobelski dominated the 50-mile long marathon championships, climbing away from the field on the opening lap and never looking back. The Coloradan crossed the line nearly 12 minutes ahead of defending champion Jeremiah Bishop (Monavie-Cannondale), and his finishing time of 3:28:16 set a new course record.

The win added an eighth stars-and-stripes jersey to Horgan-Kobelski’s collection. He already owns four cross-country and three short-track titles.

It also marked Horgan-Kobelski’s first national title since 2005.

But Horgan-Kobeslki knows this weekend’s events, held at Sol Vista Basin ski area, pose a more serious challenge than the Firecracker 50. Saturday’s cross-country and Sunday’s short track will showcase the heaviest hitters in American mountain bike racing, including two-time defending cross-country champ Adam Craig (Giant), short track champ Ryan Trebon (Kona) and World Cup heavy hitter Todd Wells (Specialized), among others.

Horgan-Kobelski said Saturday’s cross-country race takes the priority.

“I’m not really even thinking about the short track, I’m just going to see what happens,” Horgan-Kobelski said. “The cross-country is the biggest race. It’s the one that everyone is after.”

Bishop and Horgan-Kobelski are the only two men to have won two jerseys in the same year since USA Cycling debuted the single-day national championship format in 2004. JHK took the cross-country and short track titles that year, when the championships were held at the high-altitude resort in Mammoth, California.

Bishop won the marathon and short track titles last year.

The main advantage Horgan-Kobelski owns on his competitors, however, is home-field advantage. Horgan-Kobelski and his wife, Subaru-Gary Fisher rider Heather Irmiger, own a condo in nearby Winter Park and spend the summers living at altitude and training in the Fraser Valley.

Horgan-Kobelski said he’s done two reconnaissance rides at Sol Vista to check out the newly cut cross-country course.

“The trails aren’t as fun as some of the ones elsewhere in the valley, but the course is going to determine a worthy national champion,” Horgan-Kobelski said. “The climb is really demanding and the descent is freshly cut trail and super bumpy.”

Horgan-Kobelski said he plans to race on his Gary Fisher Superfly 29er hardtail. The light bike with big wheels, he said, is the tool for the job on the climb-heavy course.

“This is my highest priority race of the year,” Horgan-Kobelski said. “I started my career off as a 15-year-old racing at Winter Park. It would be cool to win this year.”

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