Monday, August 1, 2011

Americans Take Second And Fourth At Olympic MTB Test Event

Gould shared the podium with winner Catharine Pendrel of Canada and Julie Bresset of France.

Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna) earned the silver medal in the official Olympic Mountain Bike Test Event on the new purpose-built Olympic course at Hadleigh Farms in the U.K. on Sunday. American compatriot Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./Cannondale Factory Racing) just missed the podium against some of the world’s best on the men’s side, finishing fourth.

“I seem to rise to the occasion when I have the Star-and stripes on my back. It kind of makes you race at a whole ‘nother level,” said Bishop. “It was awesome. Thousands of fans were going bonkers - they sold out like 5,000 tickets. Overall it was a great team effort as we had awesome support.”

Forty-six women and 60 men contested the Olympic test event, including both of the defending Olympic champions Sabine Spitz of Germany and Julien Absalon of France. Gould and Bishop were the lone Americans racing against some of the world’s best.

The small, but quality women’s field tackled six laps of the 5.1-kilometer Hadleigh Farms course which with an open hillside setting offers challenging gradients as well as nice viewing opportunities. Midway through the race Canada’s Catharine Pendrel attacked from a lead group of three which included Gould and World Cup leader Julie Bresset (FRA). Gould soon dropped the Frenchwoman and bridged up to Pendrel before a crash on the last half lap knocked the top-ranked American out of contention for the win.

“Gould proved she can ride the course at speed in the lead group,” said Gullickson. “The result was good for her confidence, but she would have been in for the win if she had not crashed with half a lap left.”

After focusing on ultra-endurance events over the past few years, Bishop battled a rough start spot but was able to move up and pass World Cup leader Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) mid-way through the seven-lap men’s race to join the medal chase.

Bishop finished fourth after surging from a weak start position. “You think all is lost after a bad start but the legs just came on,” explained Bishop. “I passed several groups, figured I better at least get a good power file for Gully, and then I found myself all the way up in medal position. Without the traffic in the World Cups I was really able to put together a good ride.”

Four-time world champ Julien Absalon of France had already built a strong solo lead, leaving Bishop chasing for silver with Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) and Karl Markt (Austria). The pair was eventually able to pull away from the American veteran forcing the cramping Bishop to settle for fourth in the unofficial start of his newly pronounced Olympic quest.

“Bishop posted some impressive lap times after a bad start position. He rode up into second place at one point in the race before cramping a bit and coming home in fourth,” said USA Cycling Mountain Bike and Cyclo-cross Programs Director Marc Gullickson. “I was expecting good performances from both riders and that’s what we got. The course proved to be very challenging and I think it will produce a deserving Olympic winner next year.”

Full results and more information is available on the official London Prepares Series website. The road race is the next cycling test event up and is set for Aug. 14 in London.

*Photo courtesy Rob Jones -

1. Julien Absalon (France) 1:31:48
2. Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) +0:01:20
3. Karl Markt (Austria) +0:01:46
4. Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va./Cannondale Factory Racing) +0:02:19

1. Catharine Pendrel (Canada) +1:32:04
2. Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna) +0:00:56
3. Julie Bresset (France) +0:01:32

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