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By Kip Mikler , VeloNews editor
Maybe Roland Green’s onto something. The Trek-Volkswagen rider from Canada has taken some flak for choosing to skip several European World Cup rounds, and therefore forfeiting any shot at winning the World Cup, something no North American has done in a long, long time. But if the form Green showed while winning at Mount Snow, Vermont, on Friday afternoon is any indication, a few weeks at home have done him well.
There was plenty of good racing among the 108 men’s starters at Mount Snow, but none of it involved Green, who cruised for the win and the overall NORBA cross-country title. Aboard a Trek hardtail, Green took off from the start and was never seen again. His winning margin of 3:34 was reminiscent of NORBA’s past, before today’s freeway courses. And while the 5.1-mile course at Mount Snow is considered technical by today’s standards, it’s not the type of technical that produces a three-and-a-half minute gap.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said New Zealander Kashi Leuchs (Volvo-Cannondale) who finished third on the day after a great battle with Canadian Seamus McGrath (Haro-Lee Dungarees). “I thought we were climbing good, and Roland was getting 30 seconds a lap or more on us.”
With Green on another planet, Leuchs and McGrath, sporting a fresh look after cutting his dreadlocks two weeks ago, were bar-to-bar for most of the race. McGrath attacked on the last climb and gapped Leuchs to take second place.
Behind those two, an intriguing generation battle was going down between 40-year-old Tinker Juarez and 21-year-old Ryder Hesjedal. Juarez, the new 24-hour solo national champion, was having his best NORBA ride of the year, and the large crowds gathered in the woods were on his side. “It’s incredible,” he said. “With a crowd like that, they keep my mind off of my body if I’m in a little bit of pain or whatever.”
Despite the encouragement, Juarez conceded to Hesjedal, who won the battle for fourth and collected the under-23 title as the second-place overall series rider. But Juarez might have shown something to the selection committee for world championships with a fifth-place finish. The next American to cross the line was Juarez’s fellow Olympian Travis Brown (Trek-Volkswagen), who finished seventh, ending up seventh overall in the series.
Finishing eighth on the day, and fourth overall in the series, was Kirk Molday (SunRace-Santa Cruz). As the top American, Molday took the U.S. title. Molday won the opener at Snow Summit but has struggled since.
“I would have liked to have had at least a couple podium placements, so that’s kind of disappointing, but the Canadians have been going well this year,” Molday said. “It’s hard to beat them.”
Indeed. Canada swept the top three overall places, and Molday, Brown and Todd Wells (riding under the Mongoose colors at Mount Snow) were the only three Americans to crack the top-10 overall.
As for Green, he stands by his decision to focus on world championships. “With how many races I was attempting to do, and the travel, I just couldn’t do the World Cups,” he said. “I had good form for so long, if I would have done that trip to Europe, I would be pushing it. I feel like this is my year and I just want it to go perfect for world’s.”
If he’s able to ride away from that field the way he did this field in Vermont, he’s a good bet.
NORBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES FINAL, Mount Snow, VT. August 17-19.;;
1. Roland Green (Can), Trek-Volkswagen, 2:01:20; 2. Seamus McGrath (Can), Haro-Lee Dungarees, at 3:34; 3. Kashi Leuchs (NZ), Volvo-Cannondale, at 4:22; 4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 4:28; 5. Tinker Juarez, Volvo-Cannondale, at 4:59; 6. Geoff Kabush (Can), Kona-Ford Focus, at 6:03; 7. Travis Brown, Trek-Volkswagen, at 6:14; 8. Kirk Molday, SunRace-Santa Cruz, at 6:41; 9. Luke Stockwell (Aus), Zaxby’s, at 6:44; 10. Craig Gordon (Aus), Australian National Team, at 7:07.;;
1. Green, 786; 2. Hesjedal, 724; 3. McGrath, 664; 4. Molday, 604; 5. Pavel Cherkassov (Rus), Subaru-Gary Fisher, 592.