Plaxton wins short track with last lap surge

Trailing by as much as one hundred feet with one lap to go, Max Plaxton (Specialized) fired the afterburners to hunt down Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek), who finished second. Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing), one of the race aggressors, had to settle for third place. USA Champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) finished a strong fourth, while Barry Wicks (Kona) raced at a new level to finish fifth.

Plaxton got off to one of the best starts in recent history. At the top of the first small hill, he already had opened a 30-foot gap. Burry Stander (Specialized) took up the chase with Horgan-Kobelski, Kabush, Todd Wells (Specialized), and Schultz all in tow.

During the second lap, the leaders all came together. Stander attempted to stamp his authority on the race but soon realized it was not his day. “From the first lap I felt a bit seized up and tired…after a few laps I knew I was not going to get up there for a win so I just sat up a bit and rode my own pace.”

Wells suffered some sort of chain problem early in the race, which doomed his chances of winning. While he chased valiantly for the rest of the race, he could not make up the ground to the leaders.

Kabush took a long turn at the front but was not able to dispatch anyone from the lead group. Schultz then took his first flier, but appeared to let up as he thought he was being caught.

“It’s always fun to feel good enough to make some moves," said Schultz. "I went into this race with the mentality that I was racing for the win. I’m trying to enter all the races with that attitude. It definitely helps."

With two laps to go, Schultz made another strong attack. “I could have sat on a bit more but with two laps to go, I decided to attack like it was the last lap,” said Schultz.

Unfortunately, that left him with little gas in the tank for the last lap. As Plaxton came through the start/finish, he passed Kabush and then flew up to Schultz in what seemed like just a few seconds.

"I felt good at the start and did a smart race," said Plaxton. "There were some tired legs out there at the end. I was saving something for one last good effort.”

Apparently Plaxton entered the race not knowing what to expect. “I didn’t have a plan. I haven’t been feeling great since before South Africa (which hosted round 1 of the World Cup), so I didn’t know how the legs would be.”

Wicks used to be seen at the front of short track races all the time. He is also a previous US short track national champion. But, in the past few years his emphasis on endurance stage races seemed to negatively affect his short track racing. He now seems to have benefited from his recent move back to Bend, Oregon, from Chicago, where he found it difficult to train properly.

Twenty-year-old Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek) may have had the ride of the day, finishing an astonishing seventh. This gave the Subaru-Trek team three finishers in the top seven positions.

Sid Taberlay (H2O Overdrive), who finished ninth, and Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt), who finished 10th on his brand new Felt 29er, also had good rides.

The pro men will compete in cross country on Sunday.

Full Results

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Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Max Plaxton (Can) Specialized Racing
2Sam Schultz (USA) Subaru Trek
3Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing
4Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru Trek
5Barry Wicks (USA) Kona
6Todd Wells (USA) Specialized Racing
7Russell Finsterwald (USA) Subaru Trek
8Sid Taberlay (Aus) Kenda/H20 Overdrive
9Burry Stander (RSA) Specialized Racing
10Colin Cares (USA)
11Stephen Ettinger (USA) BMC MTN Bike Racing
12Howard Grotts (USA) Specialized Racing
13Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona
14Thomas Turner (USA) Jamis
-1lapAlex Grant (USA) Cannondale Factory
-4lapsCarl Decker (USA) Giant Factory Off Road
-4lapsTroy Wells (USA)
-4lapsAndrew Watson (Can) Norco Factory Team
-4lapsAdam Morka (Can) Trek Canada
-4lapsNeal Kindree (Can) Specialized
-4lapsKerry Werner (USA) BMC MTN Bike Racing
-4lapsKris Sneddon (Can) Kona
-4lapsMitchell Hoke (USA) Clif Bar
-5lapsCory Wallace (Can) Kona Factory Team
-5lapsJason Sager (USA) Jamis
-5lapsCameron Jette (Can) Scott - 3 Rox Racing
-6lapsDrew Edsall (USA) Kenda-Felt
-6lapsPeter Glassford (Can) Trek Canada
-6lapsAndrew L'esperance (Can) Norco Factory Team
-6lapsJosh Carlson (Aus) Giant Factory Off Road
-6lapsMiguel Valadez (USA) Ellsworth
-6lapsMacky Franklin (USA)
-6lapsCody Kaiser (USA) California Giant
-6lapsZach Valdez (USA) Whole Athlete-Specialized
-6lapsOnodera Ken (Jpn) Team Specialized
-6lapsKevin Smallman (USA)
-6lapsThomas Bundgaard (Den) Racing 29Ers
-6lapsBrendon Davids (USA) Sho-Air
-6lapsJason Moeschler (USA)
-7lapsYuki Ikeda (Jpn) Topeak Ergon Racing
-7lapsBrennan Wodtli (USA) All Access Racing/Gia
-7lapsBrady Kappius (USA) Clif Bar
-7lapsScott Tietzel (USA)
-7lapsRobert Marion (USA)
-7lapsTyson Wagler (Can) Scott-3 Rox Racing
-7lapsJason Siegle (USA) SDG Felt
-7lapsAlex Wild (USA)
-7lapsTanner Hurst (USA) American Classic
-8lapsClint Claassen (USA)
-8lapsJordan Kahlenberg (USA) Giant Midatlantic
-8lapsNick Truitt (USA) Yeti/Pactimo Pro XC
-8lapsRoss Holbrook (USA)
-8lapsSheng Shan Chiang (Tpe) Specialized Racing
-8lapsTravis Glysson (USA) AZ Devo
-9lapsCraig Wohlschlaeger (USA) The Hub/Giant
-9lapsStephen Dempsey (USA) Freehub Magazine
-9lapsChris Thibodeau (USA) Specialized/Curve
DNFDerek Zandstra (Can) Scott-3 Rox Racing


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