WAUSAU, Wis. – (August 3, 2008) – Chris Eatough (Trek/VW) withheld a strong challenge from Josh Tostado (back building) to repeat as Men’s Solo Champion at this year’s USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships. On the women’s side, Pua Sawicki led from wire to wire to repeat as champion.
“The last lap has never happened before,” Eatough said at the finish. “It’s the closest I’ve ever been on the last lap of a 24 hour race.” Tostado never gained more than a few minute advantage, and the last lap was a true race for the national championship.
“Neither of us had an edge throughout the race, and the attacks subsided through the night,” Eatough said.
Sawicki had a much easier time leading to her repeat national championship, leading from the start and never relinquishing her hold. “I felt good at the start, but as the night wore on I started to fatigue,” Sawicki said. “You have to stay focused at all times on this course.”
America’s Dairyland 24-Hours of 9 Mile played host to this year’s event, which saw a great turnout for the 10th year anniversary of the event.
“It was a thrilling competition from wire to wire,” says Kevin Eccles, event director for America’s Dairyland 24 Hours of 9 Mile. “A great course, great weather, tremendous volunteer support and support from the mountain bike community combined to make our 10th anniversary special.”
Rebecca Rusch (Ketchum if you Can/Specialized), part of the four-member women’s national championship team, also shared her experiences on a tight race. “We were in the lead the whole way, but our lead would go up and down throughout the night,” she said. A flat on the final lap nearly erased an 18-minute lead, but the team held on for the victory.
The is Rusch’s third time at America’s Dairyland 24 Hours of 9 Mile, going from solo rider to team. “I love riding this course at night, but the team aspect makes it very different. Although you don’t always like tight races, it does make the event exciting for us and the spectators.”
Jim Simons (Turner Bikes) competed in the solo national championship category. At 65, he made the trek to Wausau from Bozeman, Mont. “It was a tough course,” Simons said. “It was fun to compete against the best in this sport, and it gets your heart pumping.”
Simons has been racing for 5 years, and most recently survived a bout with lymphoma 3 years ago. “Events like this proves that you are alive,” he said.
The course and event venue drew rave reviews from racers, including the solo national champions. “It’s a great atmosphere,” Sawicki said. “You received encouragement at every checkpoint.”
Nat Ross (Subaru/Gary Fisher), who finished third in the solo category, said the history and culture of America’s Dairyland 24 Hours of 9 Mile make the event special. “The passion for this event is insane,” Ross said. “From the solo riders to the teams, it is what racing is all about.”
America’s Dairyland 24-Hours of 9 Mile is sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, with additional support from Gary Fisher bikes and Bontrager. Sponsors include SRAM, Niterider, Hayes Disc Brakes and Fairfield Inn and Suites.
“America’s Dairyland 24-Hours of 9 Mile proved to be an excellent venue for USA Cycling’s 24 Hour National Mountain Bike Championships,” said Kelli Lusk, mountain bike events and program director for USA Cycling. “The course has a great flow and is a perfect test for riders of all abilities.”
Lusk added that the atmosphere surrounding the event makes America’s Dairyland 24 Hours of 9 Mile special. “There’s a great energy to this event. Team support is tremendous, and it’s great to see families and kids participate.”
For additional information, including links to racer results, visit www.24-9.com.