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Mary McConneloug and Adam Craig repeat their victories at Mount Snow

Last year Adam Craig came to Mount Snow for the USA Cycling national mountain bike championships with a pretty good idea he’d win. And he did, by a whopping three minutes. That wasn’t the case in 2008. While Craig did emerge victorous from the race, finishing ahead of Kona’s Ryan Trebon by just over two minutes, the Giant rider didn’t expect to cross the line first. Drained by a season spent chasing Olympic selection and facing a fast, less-technical course, altered by race officials for erosion reasons, Craig simply hoped for the best.

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By Fred Dreier

2008 U.S. cross-country champion Adam Craig

2008 U.S. cross-country champion Adam Craig

Photo: courtesy USA Cycling

Last year Adam Craig came to Mount Snow for the USA Cycling national mountain bike championships with a pretty good idea he’d win. And he did, by a whopping three minutes.

That wasn’t the case in 2008.

While Craig did emerge victorous from the race, finishing ahead of Kona’s Ryan Trebon by just over two minutes, the Giant rider didn’t expect to cross the line first. Drained by a season spent chasing Olympic selection and facing a fast, less-technical course, altered by race officials for erosion reasons, Craig simply hoped for the best.

“I was really worried. I’ve been pretty tired since [the World Cup in] Andorra,” Craig said. “With the course changes and not feeling 100 percent I wasn’t confident. But it worked out.”

As he did in 2007, Craig grabbed the front of the race on the opening climb to the summit of Mount Snow, the venue the Maine native has raced at since he was a teenager. Craig then used his impressive descending skills to open up a sizable gap on three chasers, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-Volkswagen) and Todd Wells (GT). Trebon rode in no man’s land with Sam Schultz (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven) and Barry Wicks (Kona) chasing in arrears.

Craig attacked the course with a single 35-tooth front chainring

Craig attacked the course with a single 35-tooth front chainring

Photo:

Wells and Bishop succumbed to flat tires, and Trebon eventually caught and passed JHK, riding his way to a best-ever second place ride at Mount Snow.

“I just can’t hang with [Adam] on the downhills — he out handled all of us,” Trebon said. “I was a little more calm and relaxed this year. I never tried to stay with anyone, I just rode my own race, and second feels like a win to me.”

Craig took to the course on an aluminum prototype Giant Anthem full-suspension bike, called the Anthem X. The bike features four inches of rear travel — a half-inch more than the regular Anthem — and a new Maestro co-pivot borrowed from the beefier Trance bike. Craig ran a single 35-tooth front chainring and a new model of Fox’s 100mm X-damper fork.

“It felt more planted and stable on the descents,” Craig said. “We put some more linear travel and did some sneaky tricks with the rear shock. It let me really hang things out.”

Trebon and JHK each rode 29-inch wheel bikes into the top three of the race.

With his victory, Craig asserted his place in the elite ranks of American cross-country racing. The Giant rider now owns three national titles: two cross-country (2007,2008) and one in short track (2005).

Women’s cross-country: An Olympian battle wire to wire

2008 U.S. cross-country champion Mary McConneloug

2008 U.S. cross-country champion Mary McConneloug

Photo: courtesy USA Cycling

Mary McConneloug and Georgia Gould showed the hundreds-strong crowd at the 2008 USA Cycling national mountain bike championships in Mount Snow, Vermont, just why the pair is heading to Beijing next month. The recently named Olympians battled neck and neck for three laps around Mount Snow’s famed technical singletrack loop, opening up a huge gap on the rest of the nation’s best female riders.

The two rumbled into the finishing straight together, with the leading McConneloug splashing through a mud puddle just meters from the line. Gould tried a last-ditch sprint to get around the Kenda-Seven rider, but McConneloug held on for her fourth cross-country national title. She became the first American woman to defend her stars and stripes jersey since USA Cycling debuted its one-day national championships in 2004.

“I came into this race really focusing on the Olympics so I’ve had a lot of miles in my legs,” said McConneloug. “I think it’s pretty evident that [Georgia] is doing the same thing. We were catching and dropping each other the whole day.”

Indeed many picked McConneloug as a potential victor based on her history at Mount Snow — she has won the last four major cross-country races held at the Vermont ski area. In 2007 she used her heightened technical skills and descending prowess to take the win, with Gould climbing her way to a distant second.

But in 2008 the roles were reversed — McConneloug found her advantage on the course’s long, leg cracking ascent and Gould caught and passed the Kenda rider on the ensuing descent. Gould grabbed the front of the race early, surging off the front with cyclocross star Katie Compton (Spike-Primus Mootry) with McConneloug five seconds in arrears. But Compton lost contact after lap one, and the two-up battle began.

“Mary was really smart about punching it in the spots where there was passing — I was trying to be patient and not go too early,” Gould said. “I tried to go once we got past the mud puddle but I was in one too big of a gear and couldn’t get it going.”

Heather Irmiger rolled through the finish three minutes down on the two Olympians, with Lea Davison (Trek-Volkswagen) and Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) rounding out the top-five.

For 2008 everyone, including the 38 pro women, faced a new loop at Mount Snow for the first time in a decade. Organizers decided to change the traditional route to accommodate the weather issues that had plagued Mount Snow in the past. In 2007 unseasonably heavy rains transformed the dirt into a mud bog, which slowed the race and led to heavy erosion. The new course features more traverse sections in between descents, breaking up the old three-mile long descent.

“For a couple of years now we’ve tried to find an alternate because every year it’s been getting worse,” said Jeff Frost, who helped design the new course. “The problem is that people loved this course, and we didn’t want to lose the cool East Coast rooty, rocky descent.”

Storm clouds rumbled above Mount Snow on the eve of the cross-country races, and a heavy rain splashed down through most of the night. But sunshine and the 8 a.m. men’s expert races dried out much of the moisture, leaving a tacky maze of roots and rocks behind.

“I thought the course was mentally easier this year because the new sections broke things up — before you could lose your focus the trail changed again,” said Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher).

McConneloug admitted she was not a fan of the course changes, saying she believed it kept the race from breaking up during the descent. The Fairfax, California, native was also irked when UCI officials made her change out of her Kenda-Seven skinsuit just moments before the start of the women’s race because of the garment’s stars-and-stripes décor. UCI rules prohibit national champions from racing in their national champion’s jerseys.

The start of the women’s race was delayed 15 minutes while McConneloug rounded up a new race uniform.

“I was pretty pissed at first because I wore my national champion’s jersey last year when I raced here, but it was purple and brown so they didn’t notice,” McConneloug said. “I just tried not to let it get to me.”

Race Notes

  • On the eve of her retirement party to celebrate her decade-long career, Susan Haywood crashed and broke her ankle on the first lap. The Trek-Volkswagen rider was taken to a hospital in nearby Wilmington.
  • USA Cycling announced that the 2009 national mountain bike championships will be held at the Sol Vista ski resort just outside of Winter Park, Colorado.
  • Betsy Shogren (West Virginia) raced the pro women’s race just hours after winning the women’s single speed race. Shogren finished 23rd, 24:08 down, again racing on her singlespeed.

2008 USA Cycling national mountain bike championships Mount Snow, Vermont
July 19, 2008

Pro Women
1. Mary McConneloug, Seven-Kenda, 1:33:07
2. Georgia Gould, Luna, at s.t.
3. Heather Irmiger, Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 3:02
4. Lea Davison, Trek-Volkswagen, at 4:53
5. Willow Koerber, Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 5:47
6. Pua Sawicki, Team Mata-Ellsworth, at 8:04
7. Kelli Emmett, Giant, at 8:36
8. Judy Freeman, Tough Girl-Contessa, at 9:02
9. Jenna Zander, Sobe-Cannondale, at 10:26
10. Katie Compton, Spike Shooter-Primus Mootry, at 12:13

Photo Gallery

Results

Pro Men’s cross-country
1. Adam Craig,, Giant Mtb Team in 1:43:39.90
2. Ryan Trebon,, Kona in 1:45:17.51
3. Jeremy Horgan-kobelski,, Subaru-gary Fisher in 1:45:47.24 at 02:07.34
4. Carl Decker,, Giant Mtb Team in 1:48:02.01 at 04:22.11
5. Sam Schultz,, Subaru-gary Fisher in 1:49:01.60 at 05:21.71
6. Todd Wells,, Gt Bikes in 1:50:18.48 at 06:38.58
7. Jeremiah Bishop,, Trek/vw in 1:50:28.92 at 06:49.03
8. Michael Broderick,, Kenda/seven Cycles in 1:51:00.00 at 07:20.11
9. Barry Wicks,, Kona in 1:53:28.26 at 09:48.36
10. Andy Schultz,, Kenda Titus Hayes in 1:53:35.05 at 09:55.16
11. Thomas Turner,, Outspokin Bicycles in 1:54:05.38 at 10:25.48
12. Jeff Schalk,, Trek Vw- East in 1:54:38.78 at 10:58.88
13. Justin Lindine,, Target Training/windham Mtn Outifitting in 1:55:10.73 at 11:30.84
14. Troy Wells,, Tokyo Joes in 1:55:56.51 at 12:16.62
15. Brandon Draugelis,, Sobe Cannondale in 1:56:02.05 at 12:22.15
16. Nick Waite,, Trek/vw in 1:56:12.94 at 12:33.05
17. Spencer Paxson,, Team S&m Young Guns in 1:56:25.48 at 12:45.58
18. Adam Snyder,, 3-d Racing in 1:57:10.72 at 13:30.83
19. Andy Guptill,, Windham Mtn Outfitters in 1:57:57.93 at 14:18.04
20. Harlan Price,, in 1:59:00.07 at 15:20.17
21. Alex Grant,, Rocky Mountain Bicycles in 1:59:12.82 at 15:32.93
22. Travis Woodruff,, Momentumendurance.com in 2:00:06.90 at 16:27.00
23. Bryan Alders,, Mona-vie/cannondale in 2:00:16.99 at 16:37.09
24. Michael Simonson,, Bells Brewery/quiring Cycles in 2:01:07.46 at 17:27.56
25. Dana Weber,, Trek Vw/westcoast in 2:01:41.68 at 18:01.79
26. Ross Schnell,, Trek/vw in 2:02:34.98 at 18:55.09
27. James Williams,, Sobe/cannondale in 2:02:38.53 at 18:58.63
28. Matthew Okeefe,, Ccb/cannondale in 2:02:53.19 at 19:13.29
29. Ben Thompson,, Sobe-cannondale in 2:03:14.29 at 19:34.39
30. Charles Pendry,, Inland – Btd in 2:03:46.14 at 20:06.25
31. Samuel Koerber,, Gary Fisher 29er Crew in 2:04:12.93 at 20:33.04
32. Michael Patrick,, 29ercrew.com in 2:04:42.21 at 21:02.31
33. Chris Peariso,, Adventure 212 /titus in 2:05:10.87 at 21:30.98
34. Robert Marion,, Kenda Titus in 2:05:58.82 at 22:18.92
35. Andrew Freye,, Bikeman.com/salsa in 2:06:34.99 at 22:55.10
36. Lucas Livermon,, Inland Construction in 2:06:44.54 at 23:04.65
37. Mike Phillips,, Adventure 212/specialized in 2:06:58.21 at 23:18.31
38. Kevin Bradford-parish,, Lapierrebikes.com in 2:07:17.76 at 23:37.86
39. Ryan Woodall,, Industrynine/powerbar in 2:08:47.35 at 25:07.46
40. Nathan Ringquist,, in 2:08:49.23 at 25:09.34
41. Drew Edsall,, Endurancefactor.com/scott in 2:09:02.31 at 25:22.42
42. Mike Joos,, Bikeman.com in 2:09:48.84 at 26:08.95
43. Cody Peterson,, Scott Bicycles in 2:11:29.31 at 27:49.42
44. Aaron Oakes,, Bulldog/campor in 2:12:12.44 at 28:32.54
45. Ryan Iddings,, Lapierre in 2:22:11.00 at 38:31.10
46. Dave Harrison,, Reddrox/tamarack Resort in 2:26:56.50 at 43:16.60
47. Bryan Fawley,, Park Place Lexus in 2:32:44.00 at 49:04.10
999. Erik Tonkin,, Kona Les Gets in DNS
999. Brendan Moore,, Velorochester in DNF
999. Jay Richards,, Salsa/maplelag Resort in DNF
999. Marko Lalonde,, Gary Fisher 29/bkb/t6 in DNF
999. Blake Zumbrunnen,, Revolution/crank Bros in DNF
999. Jesse Lalonde,, Gary Fisher 29/t6/bkb in DNF
999. Nathan Wyatt,, Carolina Fatz/santa Cruz/1-9 in DNF
999. Christian Favata,, Favatas Table Rock in DNF
999. Matthew Bailey,, in DNF
999. Daniel Vaillancourt,, Toshiba/santo Pb Herbalife in DNF
999. Robert Herber,, Intense/dixon in DNF

Pro women’s cross-country

1. Mary Mcconneloug,, Kenda/seven Cycles in 1:33:07.82
2. Georgia Gould,, Luna Womens Mtb Team in 1:33:08.15
3. Heather Irmiger,, Subaru-gary Fisher in 1:36:10.70 at 03:02.89
4. Lea Davison,, Trek/vw in 1:38:01.22 at 04:53.40
5. Willow Koerber,, Subaru-gary Fisher in 1:38:55.25 at 05:47.43
6. Pua Sawicki,, Ellsworth in 1:41:12.31 at 08:04.49
7. Kelli Emmett,, Giant Mtb Team in 1:41:44.19 at 08:36.37
8. Judy Freeman,, Tough Girl/contessa in 1:42:10.05 at 09:02.23
9. Jenna Zander,, Sobe Cannondale in 1:43:34.18 at 10:26.36
10. Katie Compton,, Spike Shooter in 1:45:21.60 at 12:13.78
11. Heather Holmes,, Kenda/titus/hayes in 1:46:14.42 at 13:06.60
12. Zephanie Blasi,, Kenda Titus Hayes in 1:47:47.38 at 14:39.56
13. Krista Park,, Kenda-titus-hayes in 1:48:20.46 at 15:12.64
14. Sue Butler,, Monavie/cannondale in 1:49:34.70 at 16:26.88
15. Nina Baum,, Sobe-cannondale in 1:51:35.43 at 18:27.61
16. Maureen Bruno Roy,, in 1:52:16.76 at 19:08.94
17. Karen Potter,, Mtbmind.com in 1:53:15.88 at 20:08.06
18. Caitlyn Tuel,, Trek/vw /rocky Mountain in 1:53:31.70 at 20:23.88
19. Annajean Dallaire,, Sobe-cannondale in 1:54:19.35 at 21:11.53
20. Johanna Kraus,, Charlottesville Racing Club in 1:54:51.71 at 21:43.89
21. Bryna Nestor,, Sobe Cannondale in 1:55:23.00 at 22:15.18
22. Tanya Nestvogel,, Vantaggio/scv in 1:56:19.56 at 23:11.74
23. Betsy Shogren,, Sobe Cannondale in 1:57:16.36 at 24:08.54
24. Theresa Richardson,, Sobe Cannondale in 1:59:24.32 at 26:16.50
25. Shannon Edson,, Velo Bella in 1:59:32.93 at 26:25.11
26. Sarah Kaufmann,, Roaring Mouse/titus in 2:00:04.89 at 26:57.07
27. Emily Van Meter,, Sobe/cannondale in 2:01:08.85 at 28:01.03
28. Marci Titus-hall,, Desalvo in 2:01:22.85 at 28:15.03
29. Lindsey Bishop,, Mafia Racing/felt in 2:03:35.72 at 30:27.91
30. Kimberly Flynn,, Vantaggio/specialized in 2:03:58.46 at 30:50.65
31. Joy Duerksen,, Cole/marten Transport in 2:04:25.10 at 31:17.28
32. Patricia Buerkle,, Vanderkitten in 2:05:01.49 at 31:53.67
33. Cheryl Sornson,, Trek Vw East Coast in 2:05:54.31 at 32:46.49
34. Jennifer Tilley,, Velo Bella/kona in 2:12:03.50 at 38:55.68
35. Natasha Cowie,, Velo Bella/kona in 2:12:03.80 at 38:55.98
999. Kathy Sherwin,, Sobe-cannondale in DNS
999. Kyia Anderson,, Ekho/cannondale in DNF
999. Sara Bresnick-zocchi,, Pedalpowercoaching.com in DNF
999. Susan Haywood,, Trek/vw in DNF