Canadian's Olympic season off to good start
Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) doubled up on success this weekend by winning both the Fat Tire Criterium on Friday and the 50-miler at the Whiskey Off Road Race on Sunday in Prescott, Arizona.
"It was a nice, fun weekend to fit in," said Kabush to Cyclingnews. "It was easy to fit in my schedule between Sea Otter and the next World Cups."
It was the first time Kabush had ever raced the Whiskey Off Road Race. He was drawn by the race's reputation, the tough competition, fun trails and the strong prize list.
"The Whiskey Off Road is a model for racing in the US. It was neat to see how behind the event the town of Prescott was," said Kabush, who made the drive from his base in New Mexico. "It's not often I can drive to an event like that."
He added that the event reminded him of another popular event back home in Canada, the Test of Metal.
Kabush got his legs going with the Fat Tire Crit on Friday. It had been years since he'd done that kind of event although Fat Tire Crits used to be quite popular at major North American mountain bike events. "That was not an easy way to get into the weekend," he said. "They put the steepest grade in Prescott in to the Fat Tire Crit. It was relentless, especially with the altitude."
Two days later, Kabush crossed the line of the 50-miler in first place. He had chased down Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) earlier in the race, but the two were caught by a group of about 15 going into a long climb.
"I'd hoped to stay away with JHK, but we swelled up into a huge lead group for what led into a 16-mile climb. I wasn't sure how it would shake down. There were some wild cards in there like the Colombian guys and JHK and Xterra World Champion Conrad Stoltz."
"By the top, there were six of us. JHK and I put some pressure on and we, along with Markus (Bauer), pulled away. From the peak, I knew I had 30 minutes to go, mostly descending to the finish with one exception, Cramp Hill. I got a small gap on JHK and went full gas.
Kabush's two wins at the Whiskey Off Road came one week after he'd won the cross country race at the Sea Otter Classic and two weekends after he'd ridden to a strong 11th place at the Houffalize World Cup.
The Canadian is pleased with the start of his season, writing off a tough day at the World Cup opener in South Africa, where he finished 37th.
"This whole winter was fantastic for me. With the training and the change to Scott - 3Rox, everything but the week in South Africa has been going great. But I tried not to put too much into that - with all the travel - a day and a half each way." He noted that he is already almost up to 40,000 miles on his frequent flier account so far this season.
"I was happy to bounce back in Houffalize and get the results I felt like I should be seeing with my training. Things seem to be rolling great with the wins at Sea Otter and this weekend at the Whiskey 50."
Kabush will take the weekend off and head back to Vancouver for some testing before he races the next two rounds of the World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic and La Bresse, France.
"I feel like racing this weekend, I was continuing to build strength. I want to be racing in the top 10 and challenging for the World Cup podium at the next two European rounds."
Looking a bit longer term, Kabush is hoping for a solid performance at the 2012 London Olympic Games in August. It looks likely that Canada will qualify two men, and Kabush is riding well in his bid to claim one of those spots.
"Not that I needed much more, but the Olympics did add motivation in the off-season. The Canadian national team has been great at preparing us. I'm hoping to pull something special out. We're pretty likely to send two Canadian men. I should be heading to London, but there will be some difficult decisions coming up for the Canadian Selection Committee."
Kabush has been racing under new colors for 2012, with the Scott-3Rox Team. The change from his long-time sponsor Rocky Mountain has worked out well for him. "Obviously you don't ever want to have to look for a new team in the off season, but it's neat to have a great group of Canadians now. We're having a ton of fun traveling. The support from Scott has been fantastic and I've been able to keep a lot of my long-time sponsors.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews to follow Kabush's racing at the next two rounds of the UCI World Cup.