Horgan-Kobelski matches wife's cross country win

Two weeks ago, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and his wife Heather Irminger (Subaru / Gary Fisher) won the elite men's and women's marathon national championships. At the time, JHK said, "The only thing that could be better than this is if we did it again."

The husband-wife duo did just that - this time at the US cross country national championships in Granby, Colorado, on a Saturday afternoon. A few hours after Irminger took the women's title, Horgan-Kobelski finished first in the men's race.

Horgan-Kobelski's win was no sure thing as he was matched throughout by Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Racing). JHK was climbing better, but Wells was descending better, so the pair crossed the finish line each lap together or very near to each other, at least until the last lap, when Horgan-Kobelski crossed the line solo, with plenty of time to celebrate.

"Starting that last lap, I told myself 'I'm not going to go to bed with any regrets tonight no matter what happens,' so I threw everything I had into that last lap," said Horgan-Kobelski. "I rode that last lap almost the hardest I've ever gone on a bike. That race was so hard. Todd was riding well. I think we were both close to our limits."

"I really wanted to win today," he said. His win came just hours after his wife won the women's race. "This is as good as it gets," he said.

JHK made his move on the final climb, just like his wife, although he says it wasn't planned. "I only had one chainring up front, so I could only go uphill at one speed and that was pretty hard," he said. He gapped Wells by enough that he never knew that behind him, disaster had occurred.

The seconds ticked by, then the minutes, with no sign of Wells, who it turns out had suffered a race-end mechanical going up the final climb. On the singletrack section of the climb, well out of sight of most spectators near the finish, a bolt came loose within Wells' crankset. It would have required a tool like a 12mm hex to fix, and there wasn't much Wells could do to chase JHK after his crank fell off.

"One of the bolts backed out of the crank," said Wells after the race. "It was a big bolt, and there was nothing I could do about it out on the trail."

"He was walking his bike up the last bit of the climb," said Adam Craig (Giant) who had been in a solid third place most of the race, but then moved up to second after Wells' misfortune.

Behind Craig , Sam Schultz (Subaru / Gary Fisher) rode to third place followed by Jeremiah Bishop (MonaVie Cannondale) and Jay Henry (Tokyo Joe's).

"It's hard to beat Jeremy around her, but I gave it a go," said Craig. "I felt fine. I just can't ride that fast right now. I'm going to try to ride myself into shape here for the rest of the summer." The Giant rider spent most of the race by himself, but that was just fine with him.

"Riding with people here is annoying because having to ride anything other than the pace you want to go is a waste of effort,"said Craig. "It's a slippery slope to total grenading. Sam kept me honest out there."

Schultz rode a strong race, but found himself hurting in the middle. "I think I just got better as suffering as the race went on," he joked. "I knew it was going to be a long race. I was in salvage mode for awhile and then (brother) Andy (Schultz) caught me. Then Jay came up next lap. Both were tailing down on me, so I had no choice but to put myself in the hurt."

"Everyone said, 'Dont' let your brother beat me," but I was more motivated to not let Jay beat me. I'd rather my brother beat me if anyone is going to do so."

Bishop, who won the six-day Breck Epic last weekend, didn't have the top end he might have liked. "I had good legs and bad legs today. It was strange. I felt good at the start, but they set a nasty tempo up the climb - too fast for me right now. I went backwards for awhile and crashed on the first lap's downhill. I went over the bars." Fortunately, toward the end of the race, Bishop's endurance kicked in and he moved up several spots on the last lap to make the podium.

Race notes

- Both JHK and Sam Schultz rode their Gary Fisher 29ers to their gold and bronze medals. JHK noticed the course was getting rougher throughout the race, and he almost regretted the decision to ride a hardtail as he struggled to keep up with Wells on a full suspension on the descents. Schultz, on the other hand, thought his 29er was an advantage. "I was digging my 29er. All the bumps (on the descent) were 26" wheel size, so it was nice having the bigger wheel and rolling over more."

- Saturday marked the first time 29ers have won the US National Cross Country championship.  Both JHK and his wife Heather, who won the women's race, rode them.

- Mountain bike legend Ned Overend (Sho-Air / Specialized) showed he's still got plenty of form. "There were some unpleasant moments," joked Overend after the race. "I blew big time on the fourth lap. It was just survival after that." Overend beat many less than half his age. He finished 21st out of 62 finishers. Seven men did not finish and two did not start.

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Elite men
1Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru / Gary Fisher)2:02:10
2Adam Craig (Giant Bicycles)0:06:47
3Sam Schultz (Subaru / Gary Fisher)0:07:24
4Jeremiah Bishop (Monavie - Cannondale)0:07:45
5Jay Henry (Tokyo Joes)0:08:09
6Andy Schultz (Kenda/Tomac/Hayes)0:08:13
7Sam Jurekovic (Sho-Air / Specialized)0:09:44
8Ryan Trebon (Kona)0:10:47
9Michael Broderick (KENDA / Seven / NoTubes)0:12:04
10Barry Wicks0:14:23
11Spencer Paxson (Team S&M Young Guns)0:14:32
12Erik Tonkin (Kona)0:14:34
13Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar)0:15:58
14Adam Snyder (Team Jamis)0:16:16
15Alexander Grant (Monavie-Cannondale.com)0:16:25
16Travis Scheefer (CB Builders/Brick Over Pizza)0:17:02
17Len Zanni (Honey Stinger / Trek)0:17:49
18Todd Wells (Todd Wells)0:17:53
19Michael McCalla (ScottUSA)0:18:20
20Cody Peterson (SRAM / Mavic)0:18:22
21Edmund (Ned) Overend0:19:20
22Scott Tietzel (Curve Inc. / Specialized)0:22:32
23Dana Weber (Trek VW)0:22:35
24James Williams (Cannondale Factory Racing)0:22:38
25John Curry (GAS/Intrinsik Architecture)0:24:01
26Brandon Dwight0:24:31
27Kalan Beisel (ProCycling/CTS)0:24:41
28Barkley Robinson (BMC / Orange Peel)0:25:31
29Brig Brandt (ReboundSPL)0:25:44
30Tim Allen (Niner / Ergon)0:25:58
31John Nobil (Bear Valley Bikes)0:26:07
32Brad Bingham (Moots Cycles)0:26:15
33Drew Edsall (Scott USA / WTB)0:26:24
34Nate Bird (Honey Stinger / Trek)0:27:04
35Sean Babcock (Team S&M)0:27:31
36Jesse Rients (Nature Valley / Penn Cycle)0:27:58
37Matt Simmons (ProCycling)0:28:23
38Nick Truitt (PCL Construction/Yeti Cycles/Wheatridge)0:30:34
39James Morgan (Eriksen Cycles)0:30:44
40Robert Sousa (COMotion Sports / Yeti)0:30:55
41Jared Berg (Triendurance)0:31:24
42Jason Young (Feedback Sports)0:32:42
43Michael Mathers (Rocky Mountain Racing)0:34:26
44Spencer Powlison (Mafia Racing)0:36:26
45Robert Herber (Dixon Art)0:52:45
46Darrin Permenter (Titus / Adrenaline)0:52:47
47Daniel Kindregan (GT / IMBA)0:52:50
48Jordan Williford (Bach Builders)0:52:52
49Benjamin Portilla (Honey Stinger / Trek)0:52:56
50Chad Cheeney (Durango Devo)0:52:58
51Carl Hesselein (Whole Athlete)0:53:00
52Chad Stoehr (Blue Competition Cycles)0:53:02
53Alex Boone (Helen's / Subaru / Gary Fisher)0:53:05
54Aaron Elwell (CRRT / Twin Six)0:53:07
55Craig Wohlschlaeger (The Hub / Giant Bicycle)0:53:11
56Kat Statman (Transparent Racing)0:53:14
57James (Jay) Richards0:53:17
58Blake Harlan (Jamis Factory Team)0:53:20
59Sam Young0:53:22
60Bradford Sims (Echelon Spokes and Slopes)0:53:24
61Kenny Deemer (Green Mountain Sports / MFK Racing)0:53:27
62Chad Wells (3D Racing)0:53:31
DNSAnthony Iannacito (Rocky Mountain Racing)Row 62 - Cell 2
DNSMicah Joseph (bikeparts.com)Row 63 - Cell 2
DNFBlake Zumbrunnen (Revolution / Peak Fasteners)Row 64 - Cell 2
DNFBryan Mickiewicz (Mafia / Hammer)Row 65 - Cell 2
DNFRoss Delaplane (Green Mountain Sports)Row 66 - Cell 2
DNFJason DonaldRow 67 - Cell 2
DNFAaron Bradford (Onsite Ultrasound)Row 68 - Cell 2
DNFRobert Marion (KMC / Hayes)Row 69 - Cell 2
DNFCarl Decker (Giant Bicycles)Row 70 - Cell 2

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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.