Sprint finishes decided the first two cross country races at the US Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, Colorado, on Friday morning. Amy Dombroski (Webcor Builders) outsprinted defending champion Chloe Forsman (Luna) in the Under 23 women's race while Alica Rose Pastore (Durango Devo) maintained her lead in a sprint to win the junior women's race ahead of Jill Behlen (Tokyo Joe's Junior).
Under 23 women's race
From start to finish, the Under 23 women's race was a battle among the top two riders: Amy Dombroski (Webcor) and defending champion Chloe Forsman (Luna). Dombroski, who has four cyclo-cross national titles to her name and who races primarily on the road in the summer, was making a relatively rare appearance on a mountain bike. Forsman, on the other hand, is a regular on the mountain bike circuit, and often mixes it up with the elite women.
For most of the race, the pair stayed within about 10 seconds of each other. Dombroski lead on the climb after the first lap, of three total laps, and opened up a slight gap on Forsman, but a fall on a technical section on the downhill cost her that advantage.
"I panicked at one point on the second lap and went over the bars," said Dombroski. "I lost some time and then I had to close it down, but I got up pretty quickly."
After the crash, Dombroksi revised her approach. "Chloe is so strong in the technical stuff. My strategy was to try to get away on the climb, but every time I'd get a gap, she'd shut it down on the technical sections. I realized it would be faster to try to stay on her wheel and to try to stay on the line she was taking."
With the first half of the 4.2-mile lap mostly uphill, the second half was mostly downhill and the very end of it was a series of switchbacks. "I knew that I had to get in front of her before the final switchbacks," said Dombroski. "Basically, whoever was coming into that line first was going to win it. So I put in an attack higher up on one of the straightaways."
It wasn't the first time the two have fought in a race. "We got to duke it out at collegiate road nationals a few years ago," said Forsman. "I made a point to focus on getting to the singletrack downhill before her. She's a good mountain biker and I wasn't putting much time on her on the downhill.
"I was ahead of her coming out of the last short climb at the end," said Forsman, "and I thought that was what it would take, but on the fire road, I took it too wide going into it and she jumped ahead of me. I tried to come around a few times, and I knew my last hope was at the finish where they had the cones to narrow it down at the end, and then I came out of my pedal."
Forsman was disappointed not to keep the national championship jersey, but all thought the race was a good one. "I love racing when it's close. It makes it that much more exciting. I never thought that I couldn't pull it off at the finish, but it just didn't happen."
Kay Sherwood (Tokyo Joe's) finished in third place. She rode most of the day on her own - for awhile in fourth place, but then she moved up to and held onto third after Lydia Tanner (Tokyo Joe's) suffered a flat tire. Sherwood is from Massachusetts, but is going to school in Colorado Springs.
Dombroski collected her title just in time for her to return to road racing. "Tomorrow, I head to the Cascades for a six-day road stage race. Then I have road nationals, which are also up there - in Bend, Oregon."
Junior women's race
Alicia Rose Pastore (Durango Devo) held off a strong final charge from Jill Behlan (Tokyo Joe's) to take the junior women's national championship after three laps.
Pastore was at the front from the beginning. At first, Behlan was with her, but then she got a flat tire.
"I flatted on the first lap on the first descent," said Behlan. "I was in the lead, and I probably lost three or four minutes. But then I just tried to catch up. I almost got her. There's a little bit of a climb halfway down the descent and I could see her, but I just couldn't quite do it."
The 16-year-old Pastore was left to lead the rest of the race for the duration. "When she was catching me on the last downhill and it was coming down to a sprint, my strategy was to go as hard as I could until the line)."
Last year Behlan also finished second at nationals - by just a not much larger margin, 12 seconds.
Kaila Hart (Durango Devo) finished in third place, one minute and 26 seconds behind the leader. She rode most of the race in third place, solo.
Hart commented on the strength of the field. "This is the biggest field we've raced all year. You never know if someone is going to show up at nationals that you don't know and suprise you." In total 16 junior women registered, with 15 starting. All of the top three riders were from Colorado - Durango and Boulder
"I live in Boulder," said Hart, "so last weekend I came up here to train on the course."
Defending national champion Essence Barton (Devo / NSO) was in second place going into lap two, but she eventually dropped back to finish in fourth place.
|1||Amy Dombroski (Webcor)||1:34:06|
|2||Chloe Forsman (Luna)||0:00:05|
|3||Kay Sherwood (Tokyo Joes)||0:07:49|
|4||Lydia Tanner (Tokyo Joes)||0:10:08|
|5||Erica Zaveta (Zaveta Cycling)||0:10:36|
|7||Danae York (Velobum.com)||0:27:41|
|1||Alica Rose Pastore (Durango Devo)||1:45:44|
|2||Jill Behlen (Tokyo Joes Junior)|
|3||Kaila Hart (Durango Devo)||0:01:26|
|4||Essence Barton (Devo / NSO)||0:04:48|
|5||Wesley Geer (Tokyo Joes)||0:04:56|
|6||Ellen Patten (Tokyo Joes)||0:05:16|
|7||Linnea Dixson (Moots / Honey Stinger)||0:05:59|
|8||Lauren Catlin (Norcal)||0:07:49|
|9||Christine Weir (Northstar at Tahoe)||0:09:06|
|10||Deidre York (Velobum.com)||0:12:19|
|11||Meghan Kane (Tough Girl)||0:14:56|
|DNS||Taylor Fogg (Front Ranger)|
|DNF||Ellie Atkins (Tokyo Joes)|
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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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