By Dave McElwaine
At the second round of the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) in Fountain Hills, Arizona, Georgia Gould continued her streak of NMBS cross country victories that extends back to the beginning of the 2007 season. The Luna Women's MTB Team racer rode off the front of the entire race and completed the two laps at McDowell Mountain Park in 1:20:13 to take the win. Her team-mate Katerina Nash was second with a time of 1:22:01. Following her were Australian national champion Dellys Starr (Dale's Pale Ale) and Kelli Emmett (Giant) and a much improved Kathy Sherwin (Sobe/Cannondale).
In the men's cross country race, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) let it rip down the gradual South Ridge descent and through the final rollers to the finish to sweep the Nova Stage Race. Kabush rode most of the race with Adam Craig but was too strong for the Giant team rider who eventually finished second 18 seconds behind. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Gary Fisher) was 50 seconds back in third with Barry Wicks (Kona) a further 40 seconds back in fourth. Liam Killeen (Specialized) rounded out the top five after having an impressive weekend of racing that included a victory in the grueling 75 mile marathon with a time of 4:00 hours.
"I made an effort to get by Adam (Craig) then I kept the pace high on the ridge," Kabush said after the finish. "The ridge I went 100%...the elastic took a long time to break. I could hear Adam maybe 30 meters behind by the bottom of the back ridge. We were both going 100 percent...then gradually I just got a second here and there on the little rises but I couldn't let up until the finish. That is for sure."
The 9.3 mile course in Fountain Hills did not have as much climbing as most NMBS races, but featured other challenges that included sandy washes, short steep climbs, and a very rocky 1.5 mile descent down South Ridge. Flat tires were a problem in both the men's and the women's races. Contendors Ryan Trebon (Kona) and Sam Schultz (Subaru/Gary Fisher) - who at one time was riding in the top five - ended their rides with flat tires.
Other flat victims included Willow Koerber (Subaru/Gary Fisher), Wendy Simms (Kona), Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB), Mical Dyck (Trek/Terra), and Emily Batty (Trek Bicycle Stores). When riding many of the more technical sections of the course there was only one line. If riders happened to get off that line they found themselves on razor sharp rocks.
"It was very hard to pass...Georgia got to the front, then the two Gary Fisher girls held up the whole field, and she (Georgia) got a huge gap...then we finally got past," said Starr after the race.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of round two of the NMBS in Fountain Hills, Arizona.