By Kip Mikler , VeloNews Editor
The NORBA women’s cross-country season wrapped up in fitting fashion Friday at Mount Snow, Vermont, as the Subaru-Gary Fisher duo of Mary Grigson and Chrissy Redden dominated, just as they have all season. On a damp day in the green hills of southern Vermont, Redden attacked early and Grigson coolly defended her overall title.
For the second consecutive year, Redden won at Mount Snow, while Grigson cruised behind her teammate to finish second, 1:24 behind Redden’s winning time of 2:01:00.
Grigson, who won three out of five in the 2001 series, took the overall NORBA NCS National Championship Series title, saying afterward it was a relief. “I’ve gone for titles before and lost them on the last day,” she said. “But I set out to do it, and I did it.”
A light rain fell throughout most of the women’s 21-mile race, greasing those infamous Mount Snow roots just enough to make them bothersome for the 77-rider women’s field. But the rain wasn’t enough to drive away a sizable Friday afternoon crowd gathered in the “Titan Woods” section of the course.
Things worked out perfectly for Grigson, who watched her teammate Redden cover early aggressors Alison Dunlap (GT) and Alison Sydor (Trek-Volkswagen). At the end of the first of four laps, Grigson was fourth, right behind the two Alisons, who were 33 seconds off Redden’s pace.
Redden, who lives in Ontario, Canada, feels right at home in the Vermont forest. “I just love it,” she said. “It’s East Coast, it’s sea level. The climbs are not too long and not too steep, and it’s really technical.”
In the second lap, Redden’s biggest threat went away when Dunlap smacked her rear wheel hard on a root, pinch-flatting her tire. Soon after, Grigson surged past Sydor, and the top-three would remain that way through to the finish.
As for Dunlap, she made a quick change — she estimated three minutes — but still dropped outside of the top-10, and at the midway point was five minutes behind Redden. Impressively, she surged back to finish fourth.
Dunlap wasn’t the only puncture casualty. Shonny Vanlandingham, fighting hard for a spot on the world championship team, had a disappointing day. The SoBe-Headshok rider flatted on the third lap and couldn’t get the tire off the rim to change the tube. The DNF was devastating, dropping her from fifth to 20th in the standings.
Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joe’s) was on her way to a podium finish when a last-lap flat ended her day as well. Her chances at making the world’s team that will take place in her former hometown of Vail, Colorado, took a major hit, as she dropped to 16th overall.
The U.S. championship goes to Trek-Volkswagen’s Ruthie Matthes, who won her fifth title in her last NORBA cross-country race. Matthes finished seventh on the day, and third overall in the series, behind Grigson and Redden. As the top American, she won the title and the right to race world championships at Vail.
CHEVY TRUCKS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS, Mount Snow, VT. August 17-19.;
1. Chrissy Redden (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher, 21 miles in 2:01:00; 2. Mary Grigson (Aus), Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 1:24; 3. Alison Sydor (Can), Trek-Volkswagen, at 3:37; 4. Alison Dunlap, GT, at 5:53; 5. Audrey Augustin, Zeal Optic, at 6:07; 6. Jimena Florit (Arg), RLX Polo Sport, at 6:45; 7. Ruthie Matthes, Trek-Volkswagen, at 7:02; 8. Melissa Thomas, Red Hook, at 7:04; 9. Susan Haywood, Trek-West Virginia, at 8:34; 10. Ann Grande, Kona Ford, at 9:27.;
1. Grigson, 786 points; 2. Redden, 728; 3. Matthes, 666; 4. Florit, 618; 5. Augustin, 590.