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Blunk, Blevins score national titles

Fort Lewis College alumna Savilia Blunk will get to race in the stars-and-stripes for another year after successfully defending her elite women’s cross-country national title on Saturday in Pennsylvania. (Courtesy of Rockrider Racing)
Blunk defends title while Blevins holds off Amos

Two Durango cyclists won elite national titles on Saturday at the USA Cycling Cross-Country National Championships at the Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania.

Savilia Blunk of Ford Rockrider Racing won the elite women’s national cross-country Olympic championship, successfully defending her title from last year to earn another year of racing in the stars-and-stripes.

In the elite men’s XCO race, Christopher Blevins of Specialized Factory Racing claimed gold, improving on his second-place performance at last year’s championships.

Blunk had to battle Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM MTB Race Team) and finished the first two laps just behind her. In the end, however, Blunk managed to finish five seconds ahead of Courtney to win the national championship in 1 hour, 20 minutes and 57 seconds. Gwendalyn Gibson (Trek Factory Racing) finished third, 6:04 after Blunk.

Blevins’ toughest competitor, meanwhile, was another Durango cyclist, Riley Amos of Trek Factory Racing XC. Amos normally has been racing U23 in the world cup, but bumped up to the elite/pro competition for nationals with the goal of earning as many UCI points as possible to help the U.S. qualify two Olympic spots next year in Paris. Keiran Eagen of Team Durango Segment 28 was also battling for a spot on the podium.

Blevins led after all four laps, but Amos was only 10 seconds behind him at the midway point. Blevins, however, was able to stretch the lead to 30 seconds heading into the final lap and it pretty much stayed there.

Blevins won the national championship in 1:10:46. Amos finished 27 seconds later in second place and Eagen finished sixth in 1:17:18.

The cyclists will return to action Sunday for the short-track cross-country championships, where Blevins will work to defend his national title from last year.

See Wednesday’s edition of The Durango Herald for coverage of the national championships.