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Georgia Gould on Saturday dominated the first national cross-country race of the season on the women’s side while Sid Taberlay did on the men’s — that is until a resurgent Jeremiah Bishop kicked in the afterburners on the last lap.
Australian Taberlay put down the hurt early on in the seven-lap men’s Pro XCT event at Southern California’s Bonelli Park in San Dimas. With a large field of some 70 elite racers, including the top riders in North America, Taberlay (Kenda H20 Overdrive) had a 25-second gap on the chase group on the third lap. He increased that to about one minute by the fifth lap over a thinned out group that included Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing), Geoff Kabush, (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), and reigning U.S. XC champ Todd Wells, (Specialized Factory Racing).
But Taberlay, an Athens Olympian and three-time Australian champion, couldn’t hold off American mountain bike stalwart Bishop. By the end of the sixth, 3.1-mile lap, Bishop had whittled Taberlay’s once sizeable lead down to 15 seconds, with Wells about 10 seconds behind in third. On a course rife with punchy climbs and off-camber sections race leaders were turning in average times of 15 minutes per lap.
After racing for nearly 1 hour 35 minutes, Bishop went for the win on the seventh and final lap, dropping Taberlay who would end up in the slipstream of two more riders to finish fourth. Bishop, who has focused mostly on endurance events the last two seasons, topped the field at 1:40:15, about 15 seconds ahead of Canadian Max Plaxton (Specialized Factory Racing), who battled back to the front after a wheel change on lap 2, and about 20 seconds ahead of Wells.
Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) got to the front of the 20-rider women’s field early and never looked back. After winning the Pro XCT overall in 2010, the U.S. national XC champ continued her dominance of the national circuit in the first race of the 2011 series.
Coming off a winter cyclo-cross campaign, Gould finished the women’s race six laps in 1:40:44. The big story of the day was the return of Lea Davison, five-time national champion on the junior, U-23 and collegiate levels. With a new team, Specialized Factory Racing, Davison’s race was her first since recovering from hip surgery that kept her off racecourses in 2010.
Davison finished 2:12 behind Gould, while third place Krista Park (Cannondale-NoTubes) was 7:14 off the lead.
Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) battled a bad stomach but managed to finish the race in 15th place. Irmiger’s former teammate, Willow Koerber, is now racing for Trek World Racing and is foregoing the domestic circuit with a focus on the World Cup calendar and ultimately the 2012 Olympics.
FULL WOMEN’S XC RESULTS
FULL MEN’S XC RESULTS
Jeremiah Bishop went on to dominate the weekend by winning the men’s short-track event on Sunday. He finished ahead of Max Plaxton and Raphael Gagne.
In the women’s STXC event, it was Lea Davison topping Georgia Gould and Emily Batty.