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By Neal Rogers
On a day many called the most exciting day of short-track racingyet, overall series points leader Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (RLX-Ralph Lauren)crossed the finish line alone after breakaway companion Seamus McGrath’sfront tire washed out with two laps remaining at Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain NORBA event on Sunday. In the women’s race, three-time world cross-country champion Alison Sydor (Trek-VW) beat Subaru-Gary Fisher’s Chrissy Redden in a two-up sprint after spending much of the event off the front.
The course — a flat, dusty, one-mile loop with a tricky bottleneckedS-turn section thrown in by race organizers at the last minute — was moreof a dirt criterium, and before the race had begun it was clear that teamtactics would play a role.
The women raced first, and from the gun it was Sydor patrolling thefront, hoping to protect teammate Sue Haywood’s overall series lead byforcing RLX-Ralph Lauren, Luna and Subaru-Gary Fisher to work. On the thirdlap, Willow Koerber (RLX-Ralph Lauren) attacked and Sydor was quick tocatch her wheel. The pair opened a quick gap, with Redden and teammateMary Grigson leading the chase while Haywood sat on at third wheel.A few laps later the pair was brought in, but Sydor immediately counter-attacked,this time opening a significant 50-meter gap. Next to have a go was Luna’sShonny Vanlandingham, hoping to keep teammate Katarina Hanusova, secondin the series standings, within reach. Still, Haywood sat on.With three laps to go, Redden — the cross-country winner the previousday — took matters into her own hands, putting in a fierce effort and bridgingto Sydor while Vanlandingham, Haywood and Hanusova led the chase.Coming into the final lap it appeared Redden would get the better ofSydor after the Trek-VW rider looked over her shoulder, allowing Reddento open a 15-meter gap. But once Sydor realized Haywood was out of reachshe dug deep, closing the gap to Redden and coming inside her on the finalcorner, just beating her at the line. Haywood took third, eight secondsback.“I was debating whether I needed to help Sue get away from her lastgroup.” Sydor said. “But I looked back and she had a serious gap. She didn’tneed my help, so at that point I said ‘I’m going to go charge for Chrissyand go for the win.’”With her third-place finish, Haywood narrowly preserved her series leadheading into the finale in Durango, August 17.“It was an exciting race,” Haywood said. “I wasn’t going to chase downmy teammate. It just shows that you have to be a smart rider too, to handlethe tactics.”In the men’s race, a full field and high speeds created dust storms,creating havoc for riders outside of the first group. In and out of thatfirst group were Horgan-Kobelski and teammate Carl Swenson, Paul Rowney(Sobe-Cannondale), Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Geoff Kabush (Kona-Clarks),Roland Green and Doug Swanson (Trek-VW), Todd Wells (Hyundai-Mongoose),Jeff Hall (Salsa) and teammates Chris Sheppard and McGrath (Haro-Lee Dungarees).Halfway into the 25-minute event, McGrath set out on a suicidal attack,opening a 50-meter gap. Rowney and Horgan-Kobelski led the chase, and withintwo laps McGrath was reeled in.McGrath was still at the front with three laps remaining when Rowney’sfront tire lost traction on a hairpin descent, sliding out and causinga momentary break within the lead group. Horgan-Kobelski and McGrath motoredaway to open up a lead, and it appeared another two-up finish would mirrorthe women’s event.But disaster stuck again one lap later when McGrath’s tire also lostcontact with the dusty track, and that was all Horgan-Kobelski needed topower through the final lap, securing his overall series lead. McGrathrolled in five seconds down, with Rowney finished third, three secondslater.“There was definitely some luck involved today,” Horgan-Kobelski said.“I just tried to stay at the front, because you just never know what’sgoing to happen on a course like that.”“It was just so dusty I couldn’t see,” McGrath said, frustrated aftermissing an opportunity to win the race and close his gap behind Horgan-Kobelskiin the series. “I just lost my wheel.”For Horgan-Kobelski, it was a successful weekend after finishing thirdin the cross-country race. The short track win brought his series leadover McGrath to 46 points.ResultsMen
1. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, RLX-Ralph Lauren, 22:55
2. Seamus McGrath, Haro-Lee Dungarees, at 0:05
3. Paul Rowney, SoBe-Cannondale, at 0:08
4. Ryder Hesjedal, Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 0:09
5. Adam Craig, Giant-Pearl Izumi, at 0:13
6. Chris Sheppard, Haro-Lee Dungarees, at 0:15
7. Todd Wells, Mongoose-Hyundai, s.t.
8. Jeff Hall, Salsa, at 0:16
9. Peter Wedge, Kona Clarks, at 0:20
10. Ryan Trebon, Krystal-WCCA, at 0:22Women
1. Alison Sydor, Trek-VW, 24:13
2. Chrissy Redden, Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 0:01
3 Sue Haywood, Trek-VW, at 0:08
4. Katerina Hanusova, Luna, at 0:10
5. Shonny Vanlandingham, Luna, s.t.
6. Kim Anderson, T-Mobile, at 0:12
7. Susy Pryde, Specialized, at 0:13
8. Mary McConneloug, Seven, at 0:13
9. Jimena Florit, RLX-Ralph Lauren, at 0:17
10. Dara Marks, SoBe-Cannondale, at 0:20