Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing) and Georgia Gould (Luna) rode to victory in the elite men's and women's Fat Tire Crit, the opening event of the Whiskey Off Road weekend of racing.
Geoff Kabush managed his energy output to save just enough for a last lap attack to win the Whiskey Fat Tire Crit on Friday. Thomas Turner (Team Jamis) put in a strong performance to finish second. Carl Decker (Team Giant), always competitive in these types of races, finished third. Colin Cares (Kenda Felt) was riding for the win today but had to settle for fourth place. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) finished in fifth place.
The downtown criterium course proved to be quite challenging due to the incredible amount of climbing plus fast descending. Riders were allowed to use 1.5-inch tires but Kabush opted to use his full-size Maxxis Lite tires that had given him the win at the Sea Otter Classic last weekend.
The 79-person field got a bit jammed up on the first tight turn, but there were no crashes. Several riders attacked the field including Cares and Rotem Ishay (Team Jamis). Cares' attack strung out the field and broke the elastic band to many of the chasers. Left on the front was a group of 10 men which included the eventual podium finishers Barry Wicks (Kona), Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain), Ishay, and others.
Each time up the climb seemed to whittle down the group by one rider. Ishay and Wicks fell off the pace and formed a new chase group.
Kabush explained the race dynamics during the mile-high event. "The course is just too hard to put in big efforts, especially the climbs here being two-stage. You couldn't roll the whole thing. I was just trying to wind it into the steep section every time and use the momentum… and then just try to recover. I was breathing pretty hard. I just had to wait and give it everything over the last climb."
None of the other podium finishers were surprised to see Kabush take off with one to go. His reputation as a master tactician is well known to all of them.
Georgia Gould bided her time in a two-person breakaway with Kelli Emmett (Giant) and pulled away for the win with two laps to go. Emmett finished second. Pua Mata (ShoAir) rode nearly the whole race in no man's land to finish a strong third. Crank Brothers teammates Judy Freeman and Chloe Woodruff finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Several riders took fliers off the front of the race including Woodruff, but within two laps Emmett asserted herself and only Gould could follow.
"Kelli went to the front early and I was able to get up there with her," said Gould. "We were both riding a steady pace. She was riding strong. We weren't working together because there's nowhere to pull or draft."
Both women took turns at the front of the race. While racers were allowed to use 1.5-inch tires, it appeared that Gould was running full-sized knobbies. With two laps to go, Gould attacked Emmett on the climb and the gap held until the finish.
"It was hard. The steepest part isn't even the worst part," said Gould after the race. "You do that little steep pitch and you think that's the hill that they're talking about. Then you have a little flat and you turn, and it's the long steady pitch that get's you."
The elite men and women will race again on Sunday in the 50-mile main event. Stay tuned to for full results, reports and photos.
The following video is provided by race promoter Epic Rides.
|1||Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing)|
|2||Thomas Turner (Team Jamis)|
|3||Carl Decker (Team Giant)|
|4||Colin Cares (Kenda-Felt)|
|5||Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek)|
|1||Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)|
|2||Kelli Emmett (Team Giant)|
|3||Pua Mata (ShoAir) 3rd|
|4||Judy Freeman (Crank Bros)|
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