Stephen Ettinger (BMC) won the elite men's short track race at the Catamount Classic in Vermont on Sunday. He won a sprint finish with Russell Finsterwald (Trek). Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was third.
Racers enjoyed perfect weather - relatively cool for August and sunny. They did, however, race an unusual short track course. Between 50 percent and two-thirds of the course was on grass. The lap started with one significant climb, and each lap riders climbed to the top of the hill on grass, then ducked into the woods onto a mostly singletrack downhill with minimal passing options. The downhill featured three separate launch points, and racers were flying through the air all over. One launch point was a fairly wide bridge while the other two were effectively singletrack. The second third of the course was all downhill, and racers came out onto a grassy, mostly flat section to the finish. It was wide open, but slow going on the grass for sprint finishes, and both the hill and the wind were factors in the races.
Rotem Ishai took the hole shot up the hill after the start and led for the first couple of laps. A few laps in, Finsterwald went off the front and got a gap of about 50 feet. That left Ettinger to chase him down. Bishop was sitting in and letting Ettinger chase down Finsterwald.
There were a few lead changes where several riders took a turn going for it, but no one could get away.
When it came down to two laps to go, Bishop attacked but couldn't get a gap. Ettinger stayed with him and Finsterwald was still among the leaders.
Coming out the woods the last time, Bishop was leading and he was followed by Ettinger and Finsterwald. Finsty went around both of them and then only Ettinger could respond. He won the final sprint by about one bike length.
Conspicuously absent were several of the men's favorites from the previous day including the Catamount Pro XCT winner Max Plaxton (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Specialized teammates Todd Wells and Kohei Yamamoto. Wells departed for Colorado to get ready for next weekend's Leadville 100.
Editorial assistance provided by Dave McElwaine.
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