By Sue George
Amanda Carey and Jeremiah Bishop were crowned Ice Queen and King at the 19th Annual Iceman Cometh last Saturday in Michigan. Thousands of racers tackled the 27 mile point to point course over wide-open cross country ski trails and some singletrack.
On his way to victory in his first-ever Iceman race, Trek/VW's Bishop broke the course record, averaging 18.66mph. Less than one minute separated the top seven men's finishers, keeping the race exciting until the very end.
"It was a really tactical race," said Bishop. "It was also really fast for a mountain bike race - the fastest mountain bike race I've ever done. The only race that comes close to it in terms of speed is Sea Otter."
Thanks to some recent cyclo-cross racing, Bishop was ready for a fast and tactical race. "I did some motorpacing to prepare," he said. The speed paid off when Bishop got the hole shot off the start line, but a rolling course made it impossible for him to escape off the front.
Mike Simonson (Trek / VW) and Bishop pushed the pace in the first five kilometers. Brothers Sam (Gary Fisher / Subaru) and Andy Schultz (Kenda / Titus) also took turns attacking At one point Andy got a 25 second gap, putting him nearly out of sight of the others. Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) and Colin Cares (Kenda) were among those who helped drive the chase and Schultz was caught.
"We had a 12-man group at that point. I wanted the race to break up - I didn't like the idea of coming into a sprint with all those guys," said Bishop.
"As we got to the last five miles, I put in a big dig on a large climb following a technical singletrack section. That put the pressure on and it paid off," said Bishop, who briefly got away with Mark Lalonde (Gary Fisher 29er crew) and Matter in the final few kilometers.
With one mile to go, Bishop took advantage of a slow, steep mulch climb to get a gap going into a singletrack section. "I knew it would be a great springboard if I had an advantage going into it," said Bishop. His tactic worked and he ended up finishing in 1:28:31 with a seven-second winning margin over Matter. Mike Anderson (Bell's Beer) took third at 13 seconds. Cares and Andy Schultz rounded out the top five.
"It was awesome to bring home the last race of the season. A win is the best way to close," said Bishop.
Unlike the tight men's race, Amanda Carey (Kenda) dominated women's race from start to finish. Racing in near perfect conditions, she finished in 1:45:45, more than two minutes ahead of Susan Stevens (Brodie Bikes) and Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher / Subaru). For Carey, it was her biggest win of her first-year pro career.
"Every time I felt myself falling back, I said nail it, it's almost over," said Carey.
Carey rode with the lead group until the Williamsburg road crossing at mile 16. Climbing through the crowd that lined both sides of the course, she hammered upward and never looked back until crossing the finish line 35 minutes later.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of this the Iceman Cometh.
Silva & Genova Concepción win Copa Chile round
Round four of the Copa Chile Jeep 2008 series was held in Concepción in Southern Chile last weekend. Cristóbal Silva and Daniela Bunzli won the cross country while Enrique Genova surprised his fellow competitors to win the downhill. Veronica Miranda took the women's downhill. The races, held on the Cerro Caracol tracks, carried racers on some of the fastest and most forested trails in the series.
In the cross country on Saturday, Silva (Cannondale-ADO) made a comeback after being defeated in the last round by Javier Püschel (Scott-Suzuki).
"The third race [in the series] I was very tired, but I came back to focus on winning," said Silva, who took off from the group early in the race's seven laps. He finished with a time of 2:13:09. "This victory I enjoyed."
Gonzalo Aravena (Scott) finished in second at 3.31 while Claus Plaut (Cannondale) ended up third just over five and half minutes back. Püschel suffered a big crash during training, but went on to compete with more than 20 stitches in his elbow. He finished fifth.
In the women's cross country, Daniela Bunzli (Cannondale) won in 2.08.49, ahead of teammates Elisa Garcia and Monica Jorquera.
Downhillers got their turn on Sunday on a track that ended in the city center of Concepción.
"This year they produced a good track, so it felt so good to let the brakes go," said the leader of the rankings Juan Cartoni.
However, it was BMX double World Champion Enrique Genova who took the win by eight-tenths of a second over Mauricio Acuña, who won the series in 2007.
"I have been only two months racing Downhill and this shows that I have conditions," said Genova, who was also the winner in the rigid category, for bikes without rear suspension.
Veronica Miranda (Rocky Mountain) won the elite women's downhill over Andrea Melian (Chena Racing) and Claudia Campos (Sportexpert- Hiterk).
The fifth and final race in the series will be held on November 22-23 in the capital of Santiago. See Cyclingnews' full coverage of this latest round of the Copa Chile Jeep series.