By Fred Dreier
The Subaru-Gary Fisher team must now silkscreen “His” and “Hers” national championship jerseys for Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger.
The husband-and-wife teammates, together since their dorm days at the University of Colorado and married in 2005, escaped with cross-country wins at the 2009 USA Cycling national mountain bike championships at SolVista resort in Granby, Colorado.
At the line, Horgan-Kobelski called the win, his fifth national cross-country title, “unreal.”
“Ever since I was a kid I dreamed about having a national championship race here in my backyard. And to win it with (Irmiger) is really special,” said Horgan-Kobelski, who lives in Boulder, Colorado. “To have it come together for two people on the same day is almost impossible. It’s something you dream about.”
Horgan-Kobelski and Irmiger own a condo in nearby Winter Park and spend their summer months living at altitude and training on the trail network in the Fraser Valley. The two came into the 2009 national championship event as heavy favorites, having both won national marathon cross-country titles at the Firecracker 50 race two weeks prior in nearby Breckenridge.
But Irmiger and JHK had to work for their wins in SolVista.
Horgan-Kobelski spent the majority of the five-lap race battling with fellow Coloradan Todd Wells (Specialized). Wells appeared to have JHK on the ropes at the race’s midpoint, but Horgan-Kobelski was able to open a 30-second advantage on the final lap.
While chasing the Subaru-Gary Fisher rider, Wells saw his stars-and-stripes hopes go belly up when the crank arm on his Specialized S-Works Epic unthreaded and fell off.
Wells walked nearly half of the final lap with the crank arm in his pocket, dropping his broken rig (and the crank) at the finish line and walking dejectedly toward his car. He finished 18th, 17:53 down.
“I had to walk a few miles on the road, it actually turned into a fast walk. Downhills are hard with a blown crank arm, it’s easy to hit logs and rocks and stuff with the pedal down,” Wells said. “Until then the bike was perfect for the course.”
Defending champion Adam Craig led Wells and JHK through the start/finish after the opening lap, but the two Coloradans quickly dropped the Oregonian on the ensuing climb. For two laps Wells shadowed the lean Subaru-Gary Fisher rider, who pushed the pace on the climbs, then took the lead on the bumpy descent. On the fourth lap, Wells took the lead on the climb, and his pace put Horgan-Kobelski into the red.
“I was really amazed at how strong Todd was on that third lap,” Horgan-Kobelski said. “He was definitely making me work for it.”
But JHK put in his winning dig on the climb of the last lap, opening up 30 seconds on Wells. With the Specialized rider felled by the mechanical, Craig hung on for second.
Behind the Giant rider, brothers Sam and Andy Schultz battled for the final rungs on the podium with Jay Henry (Tokyo Joe’s), Ryan Trebon (Kona), Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes), and Sam Jurekovic (Sho Air-Specialized). On the final lap, however, it was Jeremiah Bishop (Monavie-Cannnondale) who proved to have the strongest legs, and rode himself up from 10th position into 4th, just behind Sam Schultz (Subaru-Gary Fisher), with Henry rounding out the podium.
“What, I just took fourth? I thought I was eighth,” Bishop said at the finish line. “That felt like the stage 8 of the Breck Epic.”
Irmiger wins despite flat tires
Like her husband, Irmiger put in her winning move on the final slog up the course’s long climb, catching and passing early leader Katie Compton (Independent Fabrication). But the winning attack came after Irmiger endured two flat tires during the four-lap race.
The Subaru-Gary Fisher rider even flatted during her warm up spin before the race.
“On the second lap I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Irmiger said. “Someone told me that (Compton) had 1:15 on me. I knew there were two laps left but I was like, ‘Holy Crap that’s a big gap.’ And every time you flat it messes with your rhythm.”
Irmiger came into the event as a favorite alongside fellow Coloradan Georgia Gould (Luna). Both sprung to the front of the women’s race on the opening climb, dragging Compton and Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) along. Compton took the lead after Irmiger suffered her first flat near the summit.
Gould went backwards through the women’s field after a chain malfunction caused faulty shifting on her rig. She eventually fixed the problem in the tech zone after fading to 13th place.
“It was frustrating because it was a power climb and I felt good,” Gould said. “Usually I ride my bike around a lot before (the race) but today I just got on it off the trainer. It’s my own fault.”
Compton, the five-time cyclocross national champion, spent the majority of the day riding by herself off the front of the women’s field. At one point Compton owned nearly 1:30 on Irmiger, with Koerber, Kelli Emmett (Giant), Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth) chasing in arrears.
Compton, however, slowed significantly on the penultimate lap. And as the cyclocrosser rolled through the final start/finish, she was visibly fatigued. Compton later told VeloNews that she was suffering from asthma problems.
Compton suffered a similar attack at the May 31 Bump N’ Grind race in Birmingham, Alabama. Compton said she did not take her inhaler before the nationals race, as she is waiting on the United States Anti-Doping Agency to verify her Therapeutic Use Exemption form.
“I just rode without (the inhaler). I’m usually good for 90 minutes or so, but on the last lap I was struggling,” Compton said. “I cracked hard. Heather came around me and I was just trying to breathe.”
Koerber also passed Compton, who held onto third. A resurgent Gould rode her way into fourth, with two-time reigning champion Mary McConneloug rounding out the podium.
At the finish line, McConneloug admitted she suffered in Colorado’s thin mountain air.
“It favored the elevation dwellers, and people who know how to push themselves in these conditions,” McConneloug said. “But you can’t expect to come and win a national title when the field is so strong. I can’t feel bad about not winning the jersey this year.”
- Clad in the colors of the Sho Air-Specialized jersey, 1990 world champion Ned Overend rode his way to 21sts place, 19:20 down.
Men’s Cross-country results | Click for: Women’s results
- 1. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski Subaru / Gary Fisher in 2:02:10
- 2. Adam Craig Giant Bicycles in 2:08:57
- 3. Sam Schultz Subaru / Gary Fisher in 2:09:34
- 4. Jeremiah Bishop Monavie – Cannondale in 2:09:55
- 5. Jay Henry Tokyo Joes in 2:10:19
- 6. Andy Schultz Kenda/tomac/hayes in 2:10:23
- 7. Sam Jurekovic Sho-Air / Specialized in 2:11:54
- 8. Ryan Trebon Kona in 2:12:57
- 9. Michael Broderick Kenda / Seven / Notubes in 2:14:14
- 10. Barry Wicks in 2:16:33
- 11. Spencer Paxson Team S&m Young Guns in 2:16:42
- 12. Erik Tonkin Kona in 2:16:44
- 13. Troy Wells Team Clif Bar in 2:18:08
- 14. Adam Snyder Team Jamis in 2:18:26
- 15. Alexander Grant Monavie-Cannondale.com in 2:18:35
- 16. Travis Scheefer Cb Builders/brick Over Pizza in 2:19:12
- 17. Len Zanni Honey Stinger / Trek in 2:19:59
- 18. Todd Wells Todd Wells in 2:20:03
- 19. Michael McCalla Scottusa in 2:20:30
- 20. Cody Peterson Sram / Mavic in 2:20:32
- 21. Edmund (Ned) Overend in 2:21:30
- 22. Scott Tietzel Curve Inc. / Specialized in 2:24:42
- 23. Dana Weber Trek Vw in 2:24:45
- 24. James Williams Cannondale Factory Racing in 2:24:48
- 25. John Curry Gas/intrinsik Architecture in 2:26:11
- 26. Brandon Dwight in 2:26:41
- 27. Kalan Beisel Procycling/cts in 2:26:51
- 28. Barkley Robinson Bmc / Orange Peel in 2:27:41
- 29. Brig Brandt Reboundspl in 2:27:54
- 30. Tim Allen Niner / Ergon in 2:28:08
- 31. John Nobil Bear Valley Bikes in 2:28:17
- 32. Brad Bingham Moots Cycles in 2:28:25
- 33. Drew Edsall Scott Usa / Wtb in 2:28:34
- 34. Nate Bird Honey Stinger / Trek in 2:29:14
- 35. Sean Babcock Team S&m in 2:29:41
- 36. Jesse Rients Nature Valley / Penn Cycle in 2:30:08
- 37. Matt Simmons Procycling in 2:30:33
- 38. Nick Truitt Pcl Construction/yeti Cycles/wheatridge in 2:32:44
- 39. James Morgan Eriksen Cycles in 2:32:54
- 40. Robert Sousa Comotion Sports / Yeti in 2:33:05
- 41. Jared Berg Triendurance in 2:33:34
- 42. Jason Young Feedback Sports in 2:34:52
- 43. Michael Mathers Rocky Mountain Racing in 2:36:36
- 44. Spencer Powlison Mafia Racing in 2:38:36
- 45. Robert Herber Dixon Art in 2:54:55
- 46. Darrin Permenter Titus / Adrenaline in 2:54:57
- 47. Daniel Kindregan Gt / Imba in 2:55:00
- 48. Jordan Williford Bach Builders in 2:55:02
- 49. Benjamin Portilla Honey Stinger / Trek in 2:55:06
- 50. Chad Cheeney Durango Devo in 2:55:08
- 51. Carl Hesselein Whole Athlete in 2:55:10
- 52. Chad Stoehr Blue Competition Cycles in 2:55:12
- 53. Alex Boone Helen’s / Subaru / Gary Fisher in 2:55:15
- 54. Aaron Elwell Crrt / Twin Six in 2:55:17
- 55. Craig Wohlschlaeger The Hub / Giant Bicycle in 2:55:21
- 56. Kat Statman Transparent Racing in 2:55:24
- 57. James (Jay) Richards in 2:55:27
- 58. Blake Harlan Jamis Factory Team in 2:55:30
- 59. Sam Young in 2:55:32
- 60. Bradford Sims Echelon Spokes And Slopes in 2:55:34
- 61. Kenny Deemer Green Mountain Sports / Mfk Racing in 2:55:37
- 62. Chad Wells 3d Racing in 2:55:41
- . Anthony Iannacito Rocky Mountain Racing in DNS
- . Micah Joseph Bikeparts.com in DNS
- . Blake Zumbrunnen Revolution / Peak Fasteners in DNF
- . Bryan Mickiewicz Mafia / Hammer in DNF
- . Ross Delaplane Green Mountain Sports in DNF
- . Jason Donald in DNF
- . Aaron Bradford Onsite Ultrasound in DNF
- . Robert Marion Kmc / Hayes in DNF
- . Carl Decker Giant Bicycles in DNF
Women’s Cross-country | Click for: Men’s results
- 1. Heather Irmiger Subaru / Gary Fisher in 1:55:40
- 2. Willow Koerber Subaru / Gary Fisher in 1:57:58
- 3. Katherine Compton Katie Compton Racing/independent Fabrica in 2:00:09
- 4. Georgia Gould Luna Pro Team in 2:00:35
- 5. Mary McConneloug Kenda / Seven / Notubes in 2:01:39
- 6. Pua Sawicki Ellsworth in 2:03:42
- 7. Judy Freeman Tough Girl / Scott in 2:05:01
- 8. Lea Davison Maxxis / Rocky Mountain in 2:06:19
- 9. Kelli Emmett Giant Bicycles in 2:07:35
- 10. Krista Park Incycle / Magura / Notubes in 2:08:22
- 11. Zephanie Blasi Kenda / Tomac / Hayes in 2:09:38
- 12. Susan Butler Monavie / Cannondale.com in 2:10:17
- 13. Jennifer Gersbach Dales Pale Ale Spot Brand in 2:11:39
- 14. Alison Powers Team Type 1 in 2:11:47
- 15. Amanda Carey Kenda/tomac/hayes in 2:12:20
- 16. Erin Huck Tokyo Joes in 2:13:22
- 17. Jenna Rinehart Specialized in 2:13:39
- 18. Nina Baum Cannondale Factory Racing in 2:13:42
- 19. Kathy Sherwin Kenda – Tomac – Hayes in 2:15:00
- 20. Becca Blay Mafia Racing in 2:15:23
- 21. Sarah Kaufmann Roaring Mouse / Titus in 2:16:15
- 22. Kelly Boniface Moots Cycles in 2:17:37
- 23. Caitlyn Tuel Tough Girl / Scott in 2:18:51
- 24. Lindsey Bishop Mafia Racing in 2:20:31
- 25. Laura Anderson Cb Builders / Brick Oven in 2:20:41
- 26. Maureen Kunz Lost Coast Brewery in 2:21:32
- 27. Jamie Dinkins Motor Mile in 2:21:42
- 28. Jennifer Tilley Spot / Dales Pale Ale in 2:22:03
- 29. Molly Throdahl Sports Garage in 2:23:03å
- 30. Teal Stetson-Lee in 2:24:05
- 31. Kylie Krauss Independent Fabrications in 2:24:20
- 32. Erika Powers Revolution / Peak Fasteners in 2:26:54
- 33. Kyia Anderson Hidden Bay Sports / Cannondale in 2:26:56
- 34. Melissa Marts Tough Girl / Scott in 2:28:55
- 35. Kristina Dominic Directory Plus in 2:29:34
- 36. Bryna Nestor Cannondale Factory Racing in 2:55:00
- 37. Philicia Marion Kenda / Kmc / Hayes in 2:56:00
- 38. Melody Serra Oes / Bikesource in 2:57:00
- 39. Lisa SPEEGLE Gas/intrinsik Architecture in 2:58:00
- . Heather Holmes Kenda / Tomac / Hayes in DNF
- . Sonya Bugbee Yetibeti in DNF