Written by: Jen Hanks
The Intermountain Cup’s 8th stop of the season was at picturesque Snowbird Resort. Snowbird’s 8000+ foot elevation was just high enough to give racers reprieve from Salt Lake City’s heat wave that has had temperatures hovering in the low 100s for the past three weeks. The high altitude race was also a perfect final test for racers planning to race cross country nationals at Mammoth Mountain in two weeks; this included the Whole Athlete Development team who has been training at altitude in Park City in preparation for Nationals. Utah’s own development team, Summit Bike Club, was also out in full force.
The impressive eleven-rider pro women’s race featured some of Utah’s fastest ladies as well as three juniors with UCI rankings in the top-10 worldwide including Haley Batten (Whole Athlete-ranked 1st in the world), Rachel Anders (Summit Bike Club – 4th in the world) and Kelsy Urban (Whole Athlete – 8th in the world).
Rachel Anders took the hole shot and hit the singletrack first with Haley Batten and Nicole Tittensor (Revolution) not far behind. Joey Lythgoe (Kuhl) who has won five of the seven I-CUP XC races had a slow start and was caught behind traffic in the initial singletrack allowing the lead trio to get away.
Although Lythgoe said after the race that she wasn’t sure she would be able to catch up to the leaders, in actuality it didn’t take her long; as soon as the course opened up she closed the gap and was in her usual position of contending for the win. The pace remained high and Anders dropped back on the 2nd lap ultimately getting caught by KC Holley (Kuhl). At the front, Lythgoe was able to build a small, but comfortable lead on the final lap ultimately taking the win by less than a minute over Haley Batten.
Behind Lythgoe, Tittensor was chasing Batten down the final rocky descent. Just as she made contact, the trail kicked up again and Batten climbed away to the finish. Holley finished a strong 4th with Anders close behind in 5th.
In the Pro Men’s race, Cypress Gorry, the 2014 collegiate XC and STXC National Champ and junior Carson Beckett represented Whole Athlete. Hincapie/Holowesko roadie and sometimes mountain bike badass Robbie Squire was on hand as was the always competitive Revolution racers Drew Free and Justin Desilets.
Off the start, the trio of Robbie Squire, Drew Free, and Cypress Gorry quickly established themselves at the front.
The leaders rode together until Gorry flatted on the 2nd of 4 laps. He was able to repair his tire and move back into third place only to flat again toward the end of the race ultimately dropping back to 6th.
Meanwhile, Squire and Free stayed within 15 seconds of each other until the fourth and final lap where Squire, who clearly saved something for the last lap, rode away on the first climb of the final lap and ultimately finished with a 1:30 gap. Whole Athlete junior, Carson Beckett, finished 3rd followed by Chris Holley (Kuhl) and Justin Desilets (Revolution) to round out the podium.