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Stephen Ettinger, Lea Davison claim elite crowns at U.S. MTB nationals

Stephen Ettinger (BMC) and Lea Davison (Specialized) worked the downhill to win the elite titles on Saturday at the 2013 USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships in Macungie, Pa.

The 6.5-mile circuit at Bear Creek Resort saw the country’s best cross-country racers put on a dazzling show for a raucous crowd.

Ettinger, who won the under-23 men’s national championship in 2011, fell behind Todd Wells (Specialized) and Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air Cannondale) in the early stages of the men’s race.

Midway through the six-lap race, Wells had built a lead of some 40 seconds on Bishop while Ettinger was comfortably in third place.

But Ettinger used the descents to chip away at his deficit, taking back time on the fourth and fifth laps before blazing the final go-round in just under 16 minutes, 48 seconds faster than Wells, to win the race by 49 seconds. Bishop finished third at 2:20 behind Ettinger.

“I’m so happy right now,” Ettinger said. “Off the start, I didn’t think that was going to happen. I was caught up in a little bit of a mess and was about seventh or eighth. I lost JB and Todd’s wheel in the woods. I thought I was going to be racing for third the rest of the race.

“Maybe those guys went out a little bit hard and it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise I wasn’t able to stick on their wheel. It worked out to my advantage.”

Davison, one of the riders that represented the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, quickly established herself as the strongest rider in the elite women’s field.

On the first lap she was in the lead at the top of the descent with Pua Mata (Sho-Air Cannondale), Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-Stan’s NoTubes) and Georgia Gould (Luna) when Gould flatted and dropped out of the group.

“We were all together,” Davison said. “It came to the descent. I was leading and I could see that I had a little gap on them. I think Pua was on my wheel. Something happened behind me and someone said, ‘Someone crashed.’ I just kept it smooth from there.”

Davison went on to win the five-lap race in 1:35. Mata took second at 2:45 while McConneloug rounded out the podium in third at 5:22.

“I built a lead and extended it on the second lap,” said Davison. “That bike was descending so well, which I think was a big advantage today because it’s more recovery. You can gain a lot of time in those technical sections.”


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