Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna) won the elite Bump 'n' Grind races at Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama, last weekend.
Taberlay took an exciting sprint finish against Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru). Taberlay's teammate Max Plaxton finished third and retained the ProXCT leader's jersey.
After a great start, Taberlay found himself at the front with Plaxton, Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells (Specialized), Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), and Seamus McGrath (Jamis). The pace took its toll on some of the group members.
"The race might have looked like fun, and probably was fun in practice," said Taberlay, "but the race certainly was not as much fun. There was always someone pushing the pace. I think most of the day we were all hoping the finish line was coming a bit quicker than it did.
"I attacked up the final climb," Taberlay said. "JHK came across but I pretty much just sat on him…and waited until the right opportunity at the finish."
Horgan-Kobelski appeared stronger and more aggressive than any other outing this season. "I felt great," he said. "I was trying to make hard moves from the start to whittle down that group rather than roll the dice at the end. I was climbing as well or better than anyone out there.
"Sid and Max literally sat on my wheel right until the finish," said Horgan-Kobelski. "There was nothing I could do."All wasn't lost, however for Horgan Kobelski, who marked his 100th career podium placing with his second.
Number-one in the world Pendrel got her first US Cup win after battling her teammate Georgia Gould in an exciting sprint finish. Katerina Nash made it a clean sweep for the Luna squad by finishing third.
A lead group of women quickly formed including Pendrel, Nash, and Gould as well as US cyclo-cross champion Katie Compton (Team Sho-Air), who later withdrew from the race and headed to the hospital after she suffered an asthma attack. Nash was eventually dropped as the tough road sections took their toll.
"Georgia and I were off the front," said Pendrel. "That's where we really started to work like a team. We tried to drive the pace as hard as we could. I don't win many sprints, so I knew if I could jump the last corner I could win…and that's what I did."
Pendrel fought hard and smart on the final run to the finish line, according to Gould. "I pulled the whole way down the pavement," said Gould. "I probably should have gone a little bit more inside on the corner because she kind of chopped me on the corner. But that's racing. I'll get to chop her in the next race."
It was a special day for JHK's teammate partner, Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher / Subaru), too. She celebrated her 30th birthday at the race, and spectators sung to her on the start line.
Gould retained the ProXCT leader's jersey, despite finishing runner up. The next US Cup race will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 13-14.