Junior rider clocks downhill time faster than the elites
Neko Mulally (Trek World Racing) picked up two medals and a fastest time of the day honor at the US Gravity National Championships held this past weekend in Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
The 18-year-old junior's first medal came in the dual slalom in which he was able to compete against the best pros in the US. He worked his way into the final, where he faced Mitch Ropelato. In the first round, the two riders were within hundredths of a second of each other, and the gap between the two at the end of the match up was only 0.37 seconds.
"This was the first time I'd raced slalom all year and I really enjoyed it," said Mulally. "It was tight racing and the crowd was huge, which made for a fun night of riding. The crowd was so loud I could hardly hear the cadence in the gate!"
In the downhill championships, Mulally had to race the junior category per his age. He won it decisively by nearly 11 seconds over Austin Warren in very wet conditions. Although his teammate Aaron Gwin, the 2011 World Cup overall winner, crashed and finished second, Mulally's time of 2:43.2 was 1.5 seconds quicker than anyone else that day and would have won him the elite men's title. However, rules are rules and Mulally will have to wait until 2012 to contest the elite race.
"The National Champs were something I have been looking forward to all year," said Mulally. "It was a fun atmosphere down in North Carolina. So many familiar faces and good people around. All the tracks were really well built, fun and challenging."
"My good friend Christopher Herndon has been working here all summer preparing for the event and did an awesome job. It was typical east coast weather all week with a little rain every day and foggy mornings.
"The downhill track was hard by race time. I had a good run, got sideways and was really stoked to post the fastest time."
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the US Gravity Mountain Bike Nationals.