The women kicked off the festivities at this year's national championships, with a small but elite field taking the start at Bear Creek Resort with a stars and strips jersey on the line. Race organizers had lengthened the laps for the pros slightly from last year, and the course was generally thought to be a bit easier, but that didn't mean the racing was any less intense.
By midway through the first lap Lea Davison (Specialized), Georgia Gould (Luna), and Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) had established a sizable gap on the rest of the field. But while Gould and Davison continued to extend their lead on lap two, Woodruff faded and was caught by her teammate Evelyn Dong. Woodruff, reported slowed further by mechanical issues, continued to fade throughout the day, while Dong solidified her hold on 3rd place.
Heading into the final lap Davison and Gould were still riding together, locked in a tight battle for the win. However on the final time down the course's rocky descent Davison was able to grab a couple of precious seconds, which she stretched to more than ten on the final small climb before the finish. In the end, Davison had just enough time to celebrate her victory on the line, while Gould took a well deserved silver medal. Dong held on for third, with Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda/No Tubes) taking 4th and 5th.
The six lap men's race turned into a battle of attrition, and more than a few contenders were taken out by flats over the course of the day. Spencer Paxson (Kona) took the hole shot, with Todd Wells (Specialized), Stephan Ettinger (BMC), Russell Finsterwald (Sram/Troy Lee), Kerry Werner (BMC Project Dirt), and Mitch Hoke (Pro's Closet) in hot pursuit.
At the end of lap one there was still a large group together, with Wells, Ettinger, Werner, and Finsterwald all coming through together with Hoke just a few seconds back. Flats started to take their toll on laps two and three though as Ettinger and then Finsterwald flatted and were forced to ride long distances to the tech zone.
With 2 laps to go it was Wells, riding steady laps, out in front with a minute lead over a hard charging Werner. Not far behind, Hoke was having the ride of his career, sitting solidly in third. Disaster struck for Hoke on lap five though, as he too suffered a flat far from the tech zone. That opened the door for Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air Cannondale), who'd been steadily making his way to the front over the previous few laps.
That order held to the line, with Wells taking yet another national title. Werner took an excellent second place in his first year in the elite field, and the veteran Bishop took third with his teammate Alex Grant just behind in forth. Both Ettinger and Finsterwald battled their way back into the top ten, while a clearly devastated Hoke crossed the line sometime later.
1. Lea Davison
2. Georgia Gould
3. Evelyn Dong
4. Erin Huck
5. Mary McConneloug
1. Todd Wells
2. Kerry Werner
3. Jeremiah Bishop
4. Alex Grant