VANLANDINGHAM, KABUSH SHAKE UP NORBA SERIES LEADERBOARD
'04 Series Champions in Good Position to Repeat with One Event Remaining
A shakeup atop the leaderboard in the 2005 Shimano NOBRA National Mountain Bike Series occurred on Saturday as Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) overtook the top spot in the overall standings with just one event remaining.
Vanlandingham won her fourth NOBRA national cross country race of the '05 season on Saturday to take a commanding 100-point lead over Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) after the seventh stop of the eight-race, season-long pro mountain bike tour.
Vanlandingham completed the 16-mile race in a time of one hour, 47 minutes and 42.41 seconds to finish ahead of Willow Koerber (Ashville, N.C.) by one minute, 44 seconds.
Adverse weather at the 4800-foot Appalachian Mountain resort earlier in the week left the single track sections of the eight-mile course a muddy quagmire - a departure from the otherwise dry and dusty conditions characteristic of many of the earlier stops on the '05 NORBA series. Entering this weekend's event, the consensus was that strong technical riders would rise to the occasion at the Eastern United States venue - a theory that came to fruition early in the contest.
Koerber, a North Carolina native, took the lead from the gun in the women's race, an advantage she held throughout most of the day before yielding it to Vanlandingham in the closing miles. At the end of the first lap, Koerber held a five-second buffer, which she expanded after Vanlandingham crashed on the second and final lap.
"Willow is so good in that stuff," Vanlandingham said of Koerber's abilities on the slick and tricky terrain. "I just thought I'll go behind her in the woods on the final lap and try to stay with her but I just went down hard."
Vanlandingham recovered nicely to make up any lost time on Koerber and passed her halfway up the final ascent that led back to the finish line to clinch her fourth win in the last five NORBA cross country races.
Haywood, the hometown favorite and series leader on paper heading into Snowshoe, finished sixth. But after the point calculations which allow a rider to throw out her lowest score of the first seven events, Haywood dropped to second overall behind Vanlandingham and now faces a 100-point uphill battle in the series finale.
Vanlandingham had virtually no room for error after scoring zero points at the series opener back in March. The goose egg in Texas was surely to be her throw-out score as she had to ride a solid string of seven consecutive races, avoiding series crashes, bad luck and mechanical failure to remain in contention for the overall title.
"I felt a little pressure coming into this because I have zero points from the first round," admitted Vanlandingham. "I knew I had to have a good race today."
Of her chances on winning a second consecutive NORBA series championship, Vanlandingham said, "You just never know until the end. It's pretty tight. Sue, Willow, and Dara (Marks-Marino) have been riding great all year. It's definitely coming down to the end. It's pretty comfortable gap, but you never know."
Also on Saturday, gravity riders competed in their second of three events on the weekend as Katrina Miller (AUS) claimed a win in the dual slalom.
Miller's win complimented her victory in the mountain cross event on Friday. In the final, Miller was paired against Melissa Buhl (Chandler Ariz.) who slid out in the final run ensure Miller's win.
The seventh round of NORBA is next Sunday
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