The 2013 USA Cycling Cross-Country Mountain Bike National Championships concluded Sunday at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania. In all, over one thousand unique riders made nearly 1,500 total starts and over 60 national champions were crowned through the four-day event.
While Ettinger and Davison took the cross country wins on Saturday, it was multiple National Champion in cyclocross and MTB Todd Wells who took the short track win, though Davison doubled up her titles for the weekend. And in Super D, cyclocrosser Teal Stetson-Lee took the win in her second-ever Super D race. Stay tuned for interviews from Stetson-Lee and from Georgia Gould, who took third in short track after a hard effort to take the win.
Short Track Cross-Country
After placing second in Saturday’s cross-country race, Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized Factory Racing) gained a measure of revenge in the elite men’s short track cross-country race. Wells emerged at the front of the field in the early stages of the race, pushed the pace and, in the end, coasted to the fourth short track cross-country national championship of his career.
Wells, who represented the United States in the cross-country race at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, was joined by the winner of Saturday’s cross-country national championship race Stephen Ettinger (Bozeman, Mont./BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team), Spencer Paxson (Seattle, Wash./Kona Factory Team), Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Trek Factory Racing) and Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./Team Sho-Air Cannondale) at the front of the early stages of the race. As the race continued, the riders were unable to keep up with Wells’ pace, leaving Ettinger to try to keep up. Ettinger, a veteran of the USA Cycling National Development Program (NDP), led Wells after the sixth lap, but on the backside climb, Wells attacked and Ettinger was unable to hold Wells’ wheel, allowing Wells to ride solo through the finish line for the win.
The action behind Ettinger was animated as Bishop and Finsterwald were dueling for position until Bishop attacked with two laps remaining in the race. Finsterwald could not answer and Bishop began to close the gap on Ettinger, but did not have enough time to reach Ettinger. The 24-year-old Ettinger rode away with the silver medal while Bishop earned the bronze. Finsterwald placed fourth while Paxson was fifth.
“Ettinger caught me after two laps in,” Wells said. “I sat on his wheel through the start/finish then I just went to the front and keep it open. I didn’t want to look back. If the guys see you looking back when they’re chasing, they know you’re hurting. I couldn’t tell where I was gaining time. It just about pushing myself and redeeming myself from yesterday.”
The elite women’s short track cross-country race was decided about midway through the last lap of the contest. Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Specialized Factory Racing), who won the cross-country national championship on Saturday, collected her second national title of the weekend with a well-timed attack about midway through the last lap of the race.
A group of six women animated the early part of the race. Davison, Chloe Woodruff (Tucson, Ariz./Crankbrothers Race Club), Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna Pro Team), Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven-Stan’s NoTubes), Teal Stetson-Lee (Durango, Colo./Team Luna Chix) and Pua Mata (Yucaipa, Calif./ShoAir Cannondale) quickly emerged as the riders to beat in the race.
With two laps remaining in the race, Gould attacked the lead group. Davison and Woodruff were able to hold Gould’s wheel. With about a half-lap remaining in the race, Davison attacked on the backside climb and gained the lead. Woodruff tried to answer, but could not reach Davison. Davison cruised through the finish line in first place while Woodruff earned the silver medal. Gould placed third, ahead of McConneloug and Stetson-Lee.
“My strategy was to save as much energy as I could until the right moment,” Davison said. “My legs, like everybody’s legs, were a little bit tired today after that hot effort yesterday. I just tried to sit in. I was dangling a little bit, even off of Chloe and Georgia. They were making some really strong efforts. At some points, I didn’t know if it was going to work out, but I kept clawing my way back on. I tried to get second wheel when it really came to crunch time. My best bet was to punch it up the climb and see if it worked out.”
The day started with the professional men descending nearly 500 feet on a course which spanned just over three miles. Seamus Powell (Round Top, N.Y.) topped the pro men’s field by just under three seconds after posting a time of 7:34.664. Neko Mulally (Reading. Pa.), who is a regular on the USA Cycling Professional Gravity Tour (Pro GRT), finished second with a time of 7:37.645, 10 seconds faster than the bronze medalist Casey Williams (Big Bear City, Calif./Whole Athlete-Specialized). Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.) was two-tenths of a second faster than Tristan Uhl (Austin, Texas/ATC Racing) to earn fourth place.
“I came here to ride really hard,” Powell, who also won the singlespeed national title on Saturday, said. “I raced and won quite a few times on this same course. I ride this terrain all the time. When the national championships are in the east coast, especially in the mid-Atlantic region, just go as hard as you can. It might be my only shot to get a national title. I’m pretty happy.”
Teal Stetson-Lee (Durango, Colo./Team Luna Chix) earned her first individual national championship after traversing the Super D course in 8:45.015 to top the professional women’s field. Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Specialized Factory Racing) secured her second podium spot of the weekend after finishing her descent is 8:56.543. Rose Grant (Kalispell, Mont./Sportsman & Ski Haus) rode away with the bronze medal after posting a time of 9:09.927, 13.5 seconds faster than the fourth-place rider, Lauren Catlin (Fairfax, Calif./Durango Devo). Carolyn Popovic (Philadelphia, Pa.) rounded out the pro women’s podium with a time of 9:33.467.
“Awesome. Amazing,” Stetson-Lee said when asked how winning a national championship feels. “I’m definitely a cross-country racer at heart, but descending has always been one of my passions. Getting to combine the two in the Super D is ideal. I’ve never won a national title before.”