Katie Compton (Spike Shooter-Primus Mootry) and Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-Volkswagen) took solo victories on Sunday in the short-track cross-country race at the 2008 USA Cycling national mountain bike championships at Mount Snow, Vermont.
Compton, the four-time national cyclocross champ, attacked from the gun to take her first career elite mountain bike title ahead of Mary McConneloug (Seven-Kenda). McConneloug crossed the line 34 seconds in arrears with Lea Davison (Trek-Volkswagen) charging her way into third and Kelli Emmett (Giant) outsprinting Willow Koerber for fourth.
Compton came to nationals as a dark-horse favorite in the cross-country races. The 30-year-old competed in mountain biking as a U23 rider, but has spent the last five years focusing predominantly on cyclocross and track. Her silver medal ride at the 2007 UCI world cyclocross championships in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium, assured Compton’s reputation as one of the most powerful female riders in the world.
“Mountain biking is fun and it’s what I do to keep the racing effort in my legs during the off season, and it keeps me motivated,” said Compton, who has been a regular at Colorado’s Mountain State’s Cup this season. “It’s hard with the travel to do the full national series, and Colorado has some good races. They keep me suffering.”
Compton suffered during Saturday’s cross-country race, in which she competed one week after finishing British Columbia’s BC Bike Race. After surging to a small lead alongside Georgia Gould, fatigue caught up with the Spike rider and she faded to 10th. The result lit a fire in Compton to tackle the 20-minute short track, which is similar in effort to a cyclocross race.
“I just wanted to see if I could go faster. I knew I could do it,” Compton said. “Had the short track been 15 minutes longer I think things would have been different.”
Compton took her victory on a mountain bike that mimics her cyclocross rig — the custom scandium Primus Mootry had brand-new 29-inch Edge aero wheels with 1.8-inch Dugast ‘cross tires. It was the same bike she raced in Saturday’s cross-country.
Vermont native Davison was cheered on by a large contingent of hometown fans, including a number of young female riders who make up Davison’s “Little Bella” mountain bike development team. Davison’s third place, matched with her short-track victory at the Sea Otter Classic and her 19th place at the UCI world championships, makes her the revelation of the 2008 domestic scene.
“I have my family and friends and a bunch of Little Bellas cheering me on. It was huge, it gave me a lot of momentum,” Davison said. “It’s the home course and there was some pressure coming into this race for sure.”
Bishop won a tactical battle against Kona teammates Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks and Giant teammates Carl Decker and Adam Craig. The Trek-Volkswagen rider attacked midway through the 20-minute race, just after the front group reeled in the rampaging Trebon, then held off a charging Wicks to take the victory.
The win marks Bishop’s second national title of the year. On July 4 he grabbed the national marathon mountain bike championship in Breckenridge, Colorado, the first national title in his 14-year career.
“I was most amazed that I held out for that many laps by myself,” Bishop said at the finish line. “Oh my god, I’m national short track champion.”
Indeed, many picked Trebon as the rider to watch. The reigning short-track champion showed the strength in his legs by finishing second in Saturday’s cross-country race. And from the gun the Kona rider looked destined to hold his jersey. After a flurry of early surges by Troy Wells (Tokyo Joe’s) and Bishop, Trebon took a hard dig and rode off the front with Todd Wells (GT) in tow. But Wells eventually faded and snapped off his front derailleur, leaving Trebon in the wind.
“I had the power to go but not the pop to sustain anything, not right now,” Trebon said. “Jeremiah has been riding pretty good, and if someone has a good day and everyone else is tired, that’s the difference.”
With Decker and Craig doing much of the work to reel in the dying Trebon, Bishop launched his attack as soon as the Kona rider regained the group, which also included Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher). The group’s momentary lapse let the Trek-Volkswagen rider gain a valuable advantage. While Wicks eventually attacked and bridged with three laps remaining, Bishop held a steady tempo, and kept a winning gap to the line.
“I think I waited a little too long,” Wicks said. “I figured it was too far out when Bishop attacked. We put in a pretty good chase but couldn’t get there.”