USA National MTB Series, Event 2
Shonny Vanlandingham takes Cross Country title at Sugar Mountain
Downhill, short track and dual slalom titles awarded Sunday at NMBS 2
Vanlandingham - XC winner, Australian wins downhill competition
Shonny Vanlandingham captured her second NMBS title in a row for 2006 with her win. By lap two, she had built a 1:20 gap on Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo. / Ford Cycling) and Canadian Willow Koerber. Vanlandingham completed the three laps of the course in 1:48:09.7.
"It was a long climb, you definitely had to have good legs for sure because a majority of the time you were climbing," Vanlandingham said, adding that each lap was roughly 25-30 minutes of climbing, then 10 minutes of descent.
"The descent was super technical, but it was super short. I've been known to be a long climber, so it's nice to get on my original strength for sure. On the first lap I was being a little conservative on the first climb, but on the second climb I turned it up a notch and tried to ride at my highest level."
By the end, Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo. / Subaru-Gary Fisher) had moved into second, just over two minutes behind Vanlandingham. Canadian Kiara Bisaro, Emmett and Sue Haywood (Harrisonburg, Va. / Trek/VW) completed the top five.
The final day of round two of the 2006 National Mountain Bike Series began Sunday as Australians Sam Hill and Tracey Hannah took the pro men's and women's titles in the downhill competition.
Eighteen-year old Hannah picked up her first-ever NMBS national title Sunday with her winning time of 4:28.6 - nearly ten seconds under pre-race favorite France's Sabrina Jonnier who placed second. Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif. / Jamis) was the top American finisher in third. Joanna Petterson (Folson, Calif. / Morewood Bikes) and Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz. / KHS Bicycles) placed fourth and fifth to fill out the podium.
In the short track competition, Katerina Nash (CZE) and Geoff Kabush (CAN) claimed the women's and men's professional titles.
In a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Luna women's team, Nash, along with teammates Jimena Florit (ARG), Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho) and Saturday's cross country winner Shonny Vanlandingham took all but the final spot on the podium which went to Subaru-Gary Fisher's Willow Koerber (Pisgah Forest, N.C.).
In her second lap into the 20-minute contest, Florit rode to a 20-second lead ahead of a chase pack that included her teammates, as well as Koerber and Sue Haywood (Harrisonburg, Va. / Trek/VW). Florit continued to hold the gap for seven more laps, but when time expired, the field of 48 had been whittled down to 15 and the rest of the Luna team had formed a chase group ten seconds behind Florit for the final three laps.
"When people hesitate to chase, you have to take advantage," Florit said. "Even if you have to dig deeper than you want to and build a bigger gap to make people work, I hoped to get my teammates up the road later on. Once I knew it was all four of us, of course you want to finish as high as possible, but it didn't matter at that point."
At the top of the final lap, Nash - who Florit called the team's "short-track star" - was able to catch Florit and pull ahead in the final section for the win.
"I just pushed it really hard on the last lap and I was hoping that I could catch Jimena, and I did at the very top. I knew that once you were first into the downhill, your chances are pretty good to keep it that way."
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