By Seth Lightcap
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The 15th annual Downieville Classic All-Mountain World Championships and Carl Decker roared to life Saturday on a hot and sunny morning in the streets of Sierra City, California.
More than 800 racers lined up for the first stage, a 29-mile cross-country challenge that ascended 3,000 vertical feet before descending 5,200 vertical feet into the streets of Downieville. On Sunday, 200 of the racers are competing in the All-Mountain division and will be dropping into the infamous Downieville downhill course on day two.
The Pro Men’s race was a runaway victory for Decker (Giant Factory Racing) who led the field by a whopping five minutes at the top of the first race-separating climb. Decker held on to the margin and finished in a new course record of 1:50:50.
Last year’s Downieville All-Mountain champion and former XC course record holder Adam Craig (Giant-Rabobank) pedaled in second with a time of 1:56:35, four minutes off his record setting 2009 pace. Veteran All-Mountain strongman Jason Moeschler (WTB) came in third with a time of 1:58:52. Moeschler was fifth at the top of the climb, but passed Tim Olson and Sid Taberlay who came in fourth and fifth respectively. Local favorite Mark Weir (WTB) followed soon after in sixth.
The story was similar in the Pro Women All-Mountain action as Kelli Emmett (Giant Factory Racing) got off to a fast start on the grueling climb and topped out several minutes ahead of last year’s champ, Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team). Emmett held on to the lead and finished in 2:08:56. Nash rolled in second at 2:11:42 while Lizzy English (Giant) rounded out the podium with a time of 2:31:46.
Sunday’s stage two promises to be rowdy affair as top racers will have to go all-in if they hope to catch Decker and Emmett in the overall. The rocky 17-mile downhill course offers plenty of chances for mistakes and mechanicals however, so only time will tell if the leaders can hang on.