Plaxton, Emmett Take XC Round 1 of Triple Crown
Giant's Kelli Emmett rules small women's field while Sho-Air-Specialized rider Max Plaxton fends off withering attacks from Sam Schultz and Geoff Kabush to win at Bonelli Park in Southern California.
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By Chris Stein
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TRIPLE CROWN & PRO XCT
With the Triple Crown All Mountain Series and the Pro XCT being held simultaneously this spring, the question is: Can this house divided stand? Or is it even all that divided?
If the turnout at the inaugural Triple Crown race is any indication, it appears racers are more excited about the numerous events than worried about the lack of a dominant series.
“My main focus is on World Cup racing and the Pro XCT races,” said Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher). “I’ll do these as they sort of fit in my schedule. It’s a good cause and I wanted to support the race.”
For Max Plaxton (ShoAir-Specialized), winner of the cross-country event, racing is valuable, UCI Points or not.
“Why not go for both?” Plaxton said.
Plaxton’s teammate and second place-finisher Sid Taberlay echoed that sentiment.
“[The series] don’t conflict, so it’s a foregone conclusion,” Taberlay said.
The two series differ by their objectives, US Cup Chairman Scott Tedro said, but that doesn’t mean that they are opposed to each other.
“The US Cup is a supporter of the Pro XCT,” Tedro said. “I don’t see where any kind of problem exists. [US Cup] manages events. [USA Cycling] is a federation.”
For next year, Tedro said he hopes to dramatically expand the Triple Crown by dividing up the series regionally and encouraging more local competition.
— Chris Stein
After battling top domestic and international pros on the rolling hills of Southern California’s Bonelli Park, Max Plaxton (ShoAir-Specialized) and Kelli Emmett (Giant MTB Team) were crowned the respective winners of the men’s and women’s pro cross-country field at the inaugural Triple Crown All Mountain series race in San Dimas.
Even after withering attacks from Sam Schultz (Subaru- Gary Fisher) and Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis- Rocky Mountain), Plaxton was able to break away from the lead group on the last lap, leaving teammate Sid Taberlay (ShoAir) to block the pursuing racers before attacking and finishing in second place.
“I saw an opportunity when I noticed that Kabush was spinning out on the pavement sections,” Plaxton said. “I wouldn’t say I’m the strongest, but I knew when to attack.”
For a while, it looked as though Kabush was the strongest rider in the field. The Canadian Olympian had attacked early and was able to stay on the front for most of the race, even after he flatted and had to swap out a wheel on the last lap. However, after the attack by the ShoAir riders, Kabush lost a sprint at the finish line to Schultz, finishing the race in fourth place.
“Kabush was riding super strong,” Schultz said. “After Taberlay attacked, I was able to lock onto his wheel and then come around.”
In the women’s field, Emmett successfully outsprinted Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing) for first, while Pua Sawicki (Okole Stuff.com) crossed the finish line a minute later after being dropped in the fourth lap.
“I came into the race with tired legs, so I didn’t really have any burst,” said Sawicki, who won the 24 Hour Solo National Championship in 2008. “But it’s the first race of the season so I can’t complain.”
The cross-country field attracted a total of 60 male and 11 female pros. The same racers will be eligible to compete in short track and Super D races Sunday to earn points toward the H20 Overdrive Triple Crown All Mountain Series, which aims to crown the best all-around racer at three different race weekends spread throughout the nation.
The next Triple Crown event will be the Chalk Creek Stampede, held from May 14 through May 16 in Nathrop, Colorado. Meanwhile, the first event of Pro XCT series, where racers will be eligible for UCI points, will be the Fontana City National held in Fontana, California from March 27 to March 28.