Photo courtesy of Mark Waller
Durango DEVO’s young mountain bikers left their tracks on the annual USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross Country National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho, over the weekend.
Durango DEVO’s cyclists climbed to every rung of the podium, taking three national championships on Idaho’s tough trails.
“We had a great weekend, and not only with results,” Durango DEVO coach and former pro mountain biker Sarah Tescher said.
“All of the kids did great. Everyone was out there showing that Durango folks are friendly folks,” Tescher said.
Durango DEVO’s first national title came from India Waller in the women’s junior age 15-16 cross country race.
She had to overcome a dropped chain and a crash.
“India’s race was super exciting,” Tescher said. “She went out and rode a smart race.”
After the mishaps, Waller rallied to pass a top rider from Albuquerque, Tiziana DeHorney, and a top Boulder rider, Ksenia Lepikhina.
She finished the three-lap, 17-kilometer race in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 36 seconds to claim her national championship.
“The girl, Ksenia, she beats me in almost every other race, so I’m super excited about this one,” Waller told USA Cycling.
Christopher Blevins followed with Durango DEVO’s next national title. He beat a field of 45 riders in the junior men 13-14 race.
Just as he did in winning multiple national BMX championships, Blevins broke fast and led from start to finish.
“Christopher was totally hammering,” Tescher said.”He lapped the field – twice.”
Tescher said the racing conditions were difficult in Sun Valley with dry, hot weather and dusty conditions.
And steep climbs.
“The climbs there were super steep ... steeper than anything we have around Durango,” Tescher said.
The national mountain bike title was the third of Blevins’ career. He won 11 national BMX championships.
“I gave it my all right from the start to see if they’d get tired,” Blevins told USA Cycling.
“I pushed it up the climb and just stayed smooth and maintained it. I think the climb is where I got my time gap.”
Sean McElroy of Palmdale, Calif., finished second.
Durango DEVO’s third national champion also was a repeat winner – Lauren Catlin of the DEVO Sweet Elite Team and Fort Lewis College.
Catlin, 19, battled back after a slow start to win the U23 women’s cross country race in 1:32:48.
The reigning national collegiate cross country mountain bike champion, Catlin attacked soon after a bobble sent her to the back of the pack.
“I bobbled a little bit in the rock garden on the first lap,” Catlin told USA Cycling.
“I was off the back a little bit. I got my rhythm and then was in the train. Then I thought to myself, ‘I might as well try now.’ I’ve sat in the train in too many races and not moved,” she told the USA Cycling website.
She moved this time – right to the front.
Deidre York of Indio, Calif., was second to Catlin, who originally is from Fairfax, Calif.
Jill Behlen of Boulder, the defending champion and another collegiate racer, finished third.
“Lauren came back strong,” Tescher said. “She took a bad spill in Crested Butte two weeks ago, but she came right back.
“There was no doubt who was winning her race,” Tescher said.
Durango DEVO also posted a number of other podium finished in Sun Valley, Tescher said.
And Durango pro mountain biker Todd Wells, recently selected to his third U.S. Olympic Team for London, won another national title in the cross country short track.
Wells finished second in the pro cross country race, slowed by a flat tire halfway through.
Howard Grotts of Durango and Fort Lewis College finished second in he U23 men’s national cross country race.
Russell Finsterwald of Colorado Springs won by less than minute over Grotts, the only U.S. mountain biker ever to win a junior World Cup race.
Pro women’s racer Teal Stetson-Lee of Durango was sixth in the short track race in Idaho. She was 16th in the cross country race.