USA - MTB results
IRMIGER, NOTCHES XC WIN AT BRIAN HEAD NORBA
Haywood Retains Overall Lead With Two Events Remaining
Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.) completed the inevitable path to her first career cross country win on the NORBA National circuit with a victory in today's 26-mile pro women's race.
With a base altitude of 9,600 feet and a course that took riders above 11,000 feet, the Southwest Utah locale provided an added element of difficulty for the 37 women, favouring those who come from higher elevations. Boulder-based riders, Irmiger, soloed to a convincing victory - ahead of Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.)
Irmiger slipped to the front of the field early during the opening ascent. "I kind of just played it pretty conservative at first and I knew it was a long time until it got higher and harder, "she said. "I started to notice that people taking pulls weren't going quite as hard. It gave me the confidence to go to the front. It's kind of an amateur tactic. I don't really know what else to do, so I just keep trying to go to the front and it's kind of been working."
At the top of the initial climb, Irmiger held a small advantage on Vanlandingham, but the two soon came back together on the following descent. "I was playing the downhill pretty conservative because of my flat in Aspen," explained Irmiger of her misfortune in the last NORBA National. "I was pretty paranoid."
The duo stayed together until the last stretch of selective terrain provided Irmiger with the right opportunity. "Shonny and I were together on the final climb, and then I punched it into the last piece, the hardest part of the course."
The move gave Irmiger a 43-second advantage at the finish line over Vanlandingham while Dara Marks-Marino (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.) rounded out the top five respectively.
Irmiger's win comes during a breakthrough season for the 26-year-old that's seen her on the NORBA cross country podium twice previously this summer. Her steady rise has her seventh in the overall standings with a couple of lower-altitude, east coast venues left on the '05 circuit. "I'd really like to show myself that I could conquer West Virginia and Vermont and not just be a high-altitude racer, so those are definitely both on my list to be on the podium at."
Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) maintained her overall lead in the series despite finishing off the podium for the first time in 2005. Her sixth-place effort on Saturday keeps her ahead of Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.) by just 38 points.
On the gravity side of the spectrum, Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.) captured her first-ever NORBA National dual slalom win over Katrina Miller (AUS).
In other pro-level events held on Saturday, Jennifer Whalen (Idaho Springs, Colo.) earned the top spot in the women's race.
Round six of the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series continues on Sunday with six more pro events as men's and women's marathon, downhill and short track cross country are on tap.
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