By Yokota Fritz
Believe it or not, there's much more in competitive cycling right now than the Tour de France. The 2009 USA Mountain Bike Nationals finished up today, for example, at Sol Vista in Granby, Colorado.
Over 1,200 professional and amateur off-road riders, including a very strong contingent of more than 400 junior racers, competed on the world-class terrain of the SolVista Bike Park for Stars-and-Stripes jerseys in cross-country, short track, super D, single speed, mountain cross and downhill contests.
The husband-wife duo of Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Gary Fisher) grabbed their second set of Stars-and-Stripes in as many weeks, earning Saturday’s pro men’s and women’s cross country national titles in dramatic fashion. Coming off wins at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships on July 4, the Colorado couple stayed on form to win the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Pro Cross Country national titles on Saturday at SolVista. In the nightcap, BMX Olympian Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash./GT) earned another pro 4-cross national title while 16-year-old Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah/Café Rio-Canfield Bros) pulled off the surprise victory in the men’s pro 4-cross competition.
In the men’s pro cross country race Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Gary Fisher) came out on top of a fierce battle with Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized) to win the men’s pro cross country national title on Saturday. Wells and Horgan-Kobelski were neck-in-neck until Wells literally lost his crank on the fifth and final lap of the race. Riding strong and steady throughout, last year’s champion, Adam Craig (Bend, Ore./Giant) moved into second following Wells’ mechanical. Twenty-four-year-old Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mt./Subaru-Gary Fisher) snagged third in largest field of the event, nearly 80 riders.
“I threw everything I had into that last lap,” stated Horgan-Kobelski. “I had to work really hard to stay with him (Wells) in the middle part of the race.”