By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
One did it from the front, the other from one place back. But in the end both strategies paid off, as Alison Dunlap and Kashi Leuchs took wins in the Telluride 360 Adventure Festival cross-country omnium.
Leuchs earned victory by putting together a pair of second-place finishes during the two-day event, and that gave the Volvo-Cannondale rider 4 points, two less than Subaru-Gary Fisher’s Ryder Hesjedal and Leuchs’ teammate, Christoph Sauser.
Meanwhile, Dunlap was untouchable both days, adding a dominating win in the short track on Saturday to go with her equally impressive effort in the cross country the day before. RLX-Polo Sport’s Jimena Florit was second in the short track allowing her to jump past Shonny Vanlandingham (SoBe-Cannondale) into second place overall. Vanlandingham fell to third overall, after finishing fourth in the short track.
The omnium was a two-stage event where riders received points based on their finish (one point for first, two for second and so on) in Friday’s cross country and Saturday’s short track. The lowest combined score took the overall title and short track results broke any ties.
It was that last rule that decided the race for second in the men’s overall standings. Though Hesjedal finished fifth to Sauser’s first in the cross country, the young Canadian came back with a sizzling effort Saturday, easily winning the short track and jumping up to second.
The short track win was classic Hesjedal, as the Subaru-Gary Fisher rider blasted off the front right at the gun, then stayed there for all but a few moments during the 20-minutes, plus 3 laps race.
“That’s the way I like to do it — get out in a hurry and break things up,” Hesjedal said. “If you can go steady the whole race and ride away that’s the best.”
With Hesjedal gone, teammates Leuchs and Sauser hung back to make sure one of them would end up with the overall. But Sauser, who’s only raced a few short tracks in his career, didn’t have the guns, and after a fast start he slowly began to fade, ending up fifth.
That left things to Leuchs, who battled back and forth with RLX-Polo Sport’s Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski until the young American ran into trouble during the 12th of what would be a 14-lap race on the .3-mile course.
“I was going for one of the primes and I about passed out after I came through the finish,” said Horgan-Kobelski. “After that I was just happy to end up third.”
That allowed Leuchs to cruise home for his second straight second-place and take the overall title. “That’s what it was all about,” said Leuchs. “I knew [Sauser] didn’t have much experience with short track, so when he started going backwards I knew it was on me.”
Specialized’s Frank Mapel took fourth in the short track and fourth overall, after a gutty performance that saw him come out of the pack, then move past Walker Ferguson (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Sauser during the final five laps.
“I was going to play it safe and start slow,” Mapel said. “But I’ve tried that before and I always ended up regretting it. This time I just kept it right at the red zone and it worked out.”
Mapel’s Specialized teammate Jay Henry took the last spot on the overall podium, after finishing sixth in the short track.
In the women’s short track, it was another awesome display of power from Dunlap, the reigning world cross-country champion. Four laps into the 13-lap race the Luna rider was off the front with Florit, but a lap later Dunlap decided it was time to pull away from her good friend, and she hammered her way up the backstretch of the course with an effort that the Argentinean couldn’t match.
“In the beginning I was feeling the altitude,” said Dunlap. “But I got a good attack in and it stuck.”
Florit would hold her spot in second for the rest of the way, while Luna’s Katerina Hanusova moved up late to take third ahead of Vanlandingham and Trek-Volkswagen’s Sue Haywood. Hanusova’s effort earned her fourth in the overall standings, while Subaru-Gary Fisher’s Mary Grigson was fifth overall after taking sixth in the short track.
In its first year the Telluride 360 Adventure Festival is a weeklong event that also includes an adventure race, rock-climbing competitions, trail running and fly-fishing.
TELLURIDE 360 ADENTURE FESTIVAL; Telluride, Colorado; July 12-13; International Cross-Country Omnium; Two-Day Points Race; Short Track; Women; 1. Alison Dunlap, Luna; 2. Jimena Florit (Arg), RLX-Polo Sport; 3. Katerina Hanusova (Czh), Luna; 4. Shonny Vanlandingham, SoBe-Cannondale; 5. Sue Haywood, Trek-Volkswagen; 6. Mary Grigson (Aus), Subaru-Gary Fisher; 7. Melissa Thomas, Ritchie-Roots; 8. Gina Hall, Luna; 9. Chrissy Redden (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher; 10. Julie Emmerman, Ritchie-Roots; 11. Jamie Whitmore-Cardenas, K2-Michelin; 12. Heather Irminger; 13. Heather Szabo, Tokyo Joes; 14. Lyn Damato-Franklin, Tokyo Joes; 15. Katherine Zambrana, Ionic
Men; 1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher; 2. Kashi Leuchs (NZ), Volvo-Cannondale; 3. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, RLX-Polo Sport; 4. Frank Mapel, Specialized; 5. Christoph Sauser (Swi), Volvo-Cannondale; 6. Jay Henry, Specialized; 7. Marc Gullickson, Mongoose-Hyundai; 8. Walker Ferguson, Subaru-Gary Fisher; 9. Travis Brown, Trek-Volkswagen; 10. Cody Peterson, Cost River; 11. Matt Pacocha, Ritchey-Roots; 12. Skyler Reeves, Specialized; 13. Brandon Dwight, Ritchie-Roots; 14. Jason Moeschler, Giant; 15. Dave Wiens, RLX-Polo Sport
Final Standings; Women; 1. Dunlap, 2 points; 2. Florit, 5; 3. Vanlandingham, 6; 4. Hanusova, 8; 5. Grigson, 10; 6. Haywood, 11; 7. Thomas, 14; 8. Hall, 19; 9. Whitmore-Cardenas, 19; 10. Irminger, 21; 11. Emmerman, 22; 12. Zambrana, 25; 13. Damato-Franklin, 28; 14. Sarah Tescher, 3D-Easton, 30; 15. Szabo, 31
Men; 1. Leuchs, 4 points; 2. Hesjedal, 6; 3. Sauser, 6; 4. Mapel, 10; 5. Henry, 10; 6. Horgan-Kobelski, 12; 7. Brown, 12; 8. Gullickson, 14; 9. Peterson, 21; 10. Reeves, 22; 11. Swenson, 24; 12. Pacocha, 26; 13. Wiens, 28; 14. Moeschler, 28; 15. Dwight, 29