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Trebon, Nash win Pro XCT races against Olympians, world champs
There was something for everyone at Saturday's Ute Valley Pro XCT mountain bike races: tight singletrack, rocky drops, wide-open flats and short climbs - as well as a fast, dusty track that turned to speed-zapping muck in the middle of the women's race.
Ryan Trebon, a cyclocross national champion from Bend, Ore., broke away from a pack of riders that included the two men who'll represent the U.S. at the London Olympics to win the men's pro race in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 30 seconds - 13 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Adam Craig. Craig, also of Bend, Ore., raced for the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics.
Katerina Nash, of Truckee, Calif., a former Olympic skier for the Czech Republic, battled Monique Mata, of Yucaipa, Calif., and Boulder's Heather Irmiger early on, but took a commanding lead by the third lap of the five-lap race and never looked back. She won the women's pro race in 1:38:09, nearly 2 1/2 minutes ahead of Mata in a competition the riders will remember for the downpour that left them coated in Colorado clay.
"That was kind of crazy," Nash said after she crossed the finish line, flecked in mud from head to toe. The park's clay soil stuck to the women's tires, in some cases so thick they could barely keep moving forward. Spectators became impromptu pit crews, gathered sticks to help scrape the muck from the bikes as the women battled through a fast-moving storm.
The bad weather blew through by the time the men's pro race began, but the riders spent the first laps picking their way along the wet track.
"It's a great course, fast and fun," Trebon said. "I was a bit cautious the first couple of laps, after the rain and seeing the women's race, but we rode the course (Friday) and I knew the lines and after that second lap I just felt comfortable and could let go."
Trebon, Craig, Boulder's Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Olympians Todd Wells, of Durango, and Sam Schultz, of Missoula, Mont., rode in a pack for nearly four full laps. But when others faltered for a moment in a patch of sand, Trebon pushed for the lead and never let up. "It was just a matter of holding onto it from there," he said.
The battle then turned to second place, which Craig took - a mere 3 seconds ahead of Wells, Schultz and Horgan-Kobelski.
"I ride in Colorado a lot and there's usually a lot of pea gravel-like tracks, but this was great," Trebon said of the 4.5-mile course in Ute Valley Park on Colorado Springs' west side. "It wasn't too technical. There were lots of great drops; you could ride fast. And lots of different lines. I call it a 'choose your own adventure' course - different lines, different experiences."
Russell Finsterwald, of Colorado Springs, came in seventh, securing a spot at the world championships, he said. "I felt really good and decided to push it in the second lap," he said. But he couldn't keep up that pace in the tough men's field.
Other local favorites in the pro races included Hector Riveros Paez, finishing 9th (1:18:27); Mitch Hoke, 14th (1:19:43); Kalan Beisel, 16th (1:19:56); JJ Clark, 21st (1:20:22); and Cameron Chambers, 26th (1:21:43).
Jane Rynbrandt, of Colorado Springs, finished 9th in 1:50:30.
The pro event drew 57 men and 28 women from across the United States, Columbia, Australia and South Africa. More than 100 other riders competed throughout the morning in divisional races.