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By Fred Dreier
The Utah-based Monavie-Cannondale professional mountain bike team is prepping for a busy July racing schedule chock-full of single- and multi-day cross-country races. Topping the list is USA Cycling’s marathon national championships on July 4, the June 28-July 4 BC Bike Race and Colorado’s July 5-10 Breck Epic.
“This is busy season for us,” said team manager Matt Ohran. “Epic racing around the world is our team’s tagline, and we have to live up to that.”
Leading the charge for the squad is current short track and marathon national champion Jeremiah Bishop. Bishop has his eyes on defending his title at Colorado’s Firecracker 50 cross-country race on July 4, which serves as the national marathon championships. The Virginian has been living at altitude in Colorado and Utah in preparation for the event.
“(The Firecracker 50) is definitely a huge goal of mine this year, but it’s going to be tough. The field is a lot stronger,” said Bishop. Bishop will face off against traditional marathon riders such as Dave Wiens, Evan Plews and Jay Henry at the Firecracker. But the addition of cross-county strongmen Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Todd Wells (Specialized) should lift the depth of competition to a new high.
Joining Bishop at the Firecracker 50 is Utah rider Burk Swindlehurst, a longtime veteran of the American road racing scene who races on the Bissell pro cycling team. Swindlehurst will ride also ride for Monavie-Cannondale in the Breck Epic stage race.
Bishop will also race the Breck Epic, but said he just hopes to survive the six-day stage race after racing the Firecracker 50. He will then defend his short-track title at the July 16-19 USA Cycling national championships in Sol Vista, Colorado, and will race in the inaugural Intermontane Challenge stage race, held July 27-31 in Kamloops, British Columbia.
Monavie-Cannondale is sending four two-person teams to next week’s BC Bike Race, which begins this Sunday. Bart Gillespie, who last year won the opening BCBR stage alongside Jason Sager, is teamed up with Utah rider Alex Grant. German rider Ben Sonntag, who is the two-time collegiate cross-country champion, will ride alongside Fort Lewis College team coach Matt Shriver. Sue Butler and Coloradan Bryan Alders will contest the mixed team category, and Ohran and Tim Butler will also race as a team.