By Rob Jones and Steve Medcroft
North Americans are making their mark in the highest levels of elite road racing. Bobby Julich won Paris-Nice. George Hincapie took the Dauphine prologue. Dave Zabriskie and Chris Horner won stages of the Giro D'Italia and Tour de Suisse. And in Philly, a race usually dominated by visiting foreigners, five Americans take the podium steps for themselves, building the growing numbers of North Americans riding at the front and winning major European road races.
And by judging the success of North American mountain bikers in the UCI World Cup mountain bike races in Mont Sainte Anne (June 25-16, 2005), that success is rubbing off on the knobby-tired set as well.
When she beat Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida) to the line in the Spa Francorchamps World Cup in Belgium on April 24, Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) not only became the first North American woman to win a World Cup in Europe since Alison Dunlap (Luna) in 1997 and the first North American woman to win a World Cup since Chrissy Redden in 2001 but she broke Dahle's almost unshakeable two-plus year World Cup win streak.
It being the first world cup of the season, it was easy to chalk Premont's win up to Dahl having an off day; a fluke that would be corrected when Dahle came back to form. But last Saturday in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec Premont proved that she was the contender to Dahle for World-Cup glory in 2005.
Premont wasn't the only North American to have break-out success in Mont Sainte Anne. Americans Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven Cycles) placed in the top five in the cross-country race. Californian Jill Kintner (USA) won the women's four cross. Giant's Adam Craig placed fourth in the men's cross country, his best placing ever and one spot on the podium below newly-crowned Canadian national champion and Team Maxxis star Geoff Kabush - who came third to only Christoph Sauser and Fredrick Kessiakoff of Seimens-Cannondale.
Rob Jones brought us race reports from each day's competition: