A mix of new names and familiar names topped the podiums at the elite four cross national championship on Saturday evening in Granby, Colorado. Jill Kintner (Red Bull / Intense / Crankbrothers) and Mitch Ropelato (Café Rio / Canfield Brothers) took home the titles after the finals.
In the women's race, it was a battle between two of the best women in the world: Kintner and current four cross World Champion Melissa Buhl (Red Bull / Intense / Crankbrothers). The two hooked elbows at the top, but both showed their skill and experience by keeping it upright and then riding away from their competition.
"Buhly and I are always pretty even," said Kintner. "She is always really fast out of the start. She got kinda of loose and I got kinda loose at the start." Kinter came out of the tangle faster and found herself at the top of the run with a significant gap.
"After that she had a big gap and it was hard to close it," said Buhl. "We were drifting in every corner. It was tough. It was unfortunate as we couldn't accelerate at the start, and it balled up the pack a little, but that's racing. It's four cross and I expect it. If that kind of thing doesn't happen, you'd wonder if you tried hard enough."
"It's good to get the stars and stripes back," said Kintner after her win, recalling her last championship win in 2006. "The more loose and crazy it got, the more fun it was." Many racers commented that the track got looser and looser over the course of the evening.
Kathy Pruitt (Jamis) and Darian Harvey (Cannondale Factory Racing) finished third and fourth in the big final.
In the men's race, the 17-year-old Ropelato surprised many by winning the final.
"I got a little tangled up but pulled out of it the best I could and just pinned it," said Ropelato, who lives in Ogden, Utah. "I'm so excited right now."
Rich Houseman (Intense) and Ropelato split one way at the top of the run while Brian Buell (Team Geronimo) and JD Swanguen (Intense / Troy Lee Designs) split the other.
"That last run was hectic," said Buelle, who passed Houseman to occupy second for a brief period during the final run. "I kinda went through the middle. First and second bobbled and I moved into second, but then Rich came and got me back when I almost fell off the course." Buelle is a pro racer and manager for the junior development Team Geronimo.
Houseman ended up second, Buell took third and JD Swanguen finished fourth in the big final.
|1||Mitch Ropelato (Cafe Rio / Canfield Brothers)|
|2||Richard Houseman (Intense)|
|3||Brian Buell (Team Geronimo)|
|4||John Swanguen (Intnese/Troy Lee Designs/ODI/Fox Racing Shox)|
|5||Joseph Backus (Factory Staats)|
|6||Blake Carney (Hayes / Sun Ringle / Nema / Manitou / ODI / Yeti)|
|7||Jamas Stiber (Stiber Racing)|
|8||Ross Milan (Yeti Fox National)|
|9||Logan Binggeli (KHS Bicycles)|
|10||George Stephenson (Yeti Fox Regional)|
|11||James Schwanke (Haro / Axo / Oakley / Subway)|
|12||Nick Van Dine (Cannondale Factory Racing)|
|13||Sean Mcclendon (X-Fusion/Intense)|
|14||Thomas Tokarczyk (Jamis Bikes)|
|15||Fisker Tj (Mafia Racing)|
|16||Jordan Rupe (Team Totally Wired)|
|17||Cody Wilderman (Yeti Fox Regional)|
|20||James Hollibaugh (Mafia Racing)|
|21||Michael Buell (Team Geronimo)|
|22||Chase Bohn (Versus Cycles)|
|23||Steven Wentz (Team SolVista / Commencal USA)|
|24||Tyler Wilson (X-Fusion/Intense)|
|25||Kayman Benetti (Go Pro Camera)|
|26||David Ziegman (Yeti Fox Racing Team)|
|27||Dante Harmony (All Mountain Cyclery/Hayes)|
|29||Daniel Cortina (CR1 Engineering / NEMA / Cortina)|
|30||Michael Haderer (Fox Shox/Orange Bikes/Easton/Bell)|
|31||Heikki Hall (E13)|
|32||Taylor Cuisinot (Xtreme Outfitters)|
|33||Rudy Unrau (Yeti Fox Regional)|
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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