TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. (VN) — Michigan’s fall off-road classic, the Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge, awarded two first-time winners on Saturday, in Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox) and former world champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna), as well as 10 college scholarships for top junior finishers.
The 24th edition of the 29-mile point-to-point mountain bike race in Traverse City, Michigan, got underway under cloudy skies and 45-degree temperatures, but with a purse of $50,000 and equal prize payout for the men’s and women’s professional races, the season’s final mountain bike event was hot from the start.
After finishing second to Sam Schultz a year ago, Kabush learned that patience and tactics are key in a race like Iceman. Kabush spent most of the race in a lead group of seven that included Todd Wells (Specialized), Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air-Cannondale), Brian Matter (RACC-Trek), Stephen Ettinger (BMC Racing), Russell Finsterwald (Trek), and Scott teammate Derek Zandstra. Bishop split the group late in the race, but Kabush countered in the finale to come around Wells for the victory.
“We came down last year and had a ton of fun. I learned a little bit about how the race would unfold and this year I was a little more patient and hung in. It’s a race of attrition and it gradually widdled down to the lead group of seven,” he said. “I accelerated where I needed to, and when Todd Wells came around me with about 1 kilometer I just had memories of coming in second last year. I had to dig really hard about 500 meters to go. It definitely is a nice way to bookend the season and to finish it off with an awesome event.”
Pendrel, who last raced Iceman in 2011, rode with the pressure of defending teammate Georgia Gould’s 2012 title.
“This year I came in feeling a lot stronger, and I knew how much expending too much energy too early could get you. I just made sure everyone was working,” said Pendrel.
From early in the race, the Canadian rode in a four-rider group with Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Race Club), Mackenzie Woodring (Einstein Racing), and Emily Batty (Trek). When Pendrel attacked, only Woodruff could follow.
After putting in some strong efforts, Pendrel finally gapped Woodruff and finished with over a minute’s advantage. Woodruff finished second and Woodring third.
“Pendrel was on fire today and I was happy to have the opportunity to race with her on her wheel,” said Woodruff.
Jeff Buerman and Michigan Youth Cycling awarded 10 educational scholarships at the race. Buerman, who brought Matter to his first Iceman 20 years ago, handed out scholarships to the top five finishers in the junior women and men categories, with the top finisher in each earning $1,100. Ksenia Lepikhia (BMC Development Team) of Boulder, Colorado, and Luke Beemer (World Bicycle Relief) of Brownsberg, Indiana, won the top prizes.
Editor’s note: This story originally stated that Cameron Buccellato (RBS Cycling) of Lake Orion, Michigan, won the top junior men’s scholarship. Due to a timing correction, Luke Beemer (World Bicycle Relief) was awarded the $1,100 prize.