By Nate Gibby – Salt Lake City — Alex Grant (Cannondale, Gear Rush) won the Elite Men’s division while Nicole Tittensor (Jan’s Park City, Scott Bikes, Reynolds Cycling) took the Elite Women’s crown at the Intermountain Cup’s Rage at Snowbird, held July 1, 2017 at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort.
With spectacular mountain vistas on every side, the race wasn’t nearly as pleasant as the surroundings. Not only did the racers have to endure between four and five laps of a five-mile course and approximately 3,000’ gain, but the altitude complicated things even further.
In the Elite Men’s division, Felt-Assos racer Rob Squire jumped out to the early lead. with Grant following for most of the first two laps. However, shortly after Squire started to create separation on the end of the second lap, a flat tire derailed his day and Grant was able to take advantage for the win. With a time of 1:50 over 25 total miles, Grant never looked back and won by nearly five minutes.
“Rob was putting some real pressure on during the second lap and he had maybe a 10-second lead on me going into the downhill,” said Grant. “I thought I would keep as close as I can and then he was on the side of the [trail] with a flat time. After Robbie dropped out, I kept my head down and kept pushing.”
In the Elite Women’s category, Tittensor started out fast and held the lead for the duration of the four laps. Gaining nearly a minute per lap on other racers, Tittensor powered to a 1:49 finish, four minutes ahead of her competitors.
“The start is really important at Snowbird as it's at 8,000’, so you have to watch your efforts,” said Tittensor. “With about a 1/4-mile fire road and then really tight single track, it’s always important for me to be in the lead there. Meghan Sheridan (Bingham Cyclery Peak Fasteners, W Law) was right on my wheel, so I just tried to recover once I hit the single track, focus on my breathing and I was able to put a little gap on her.”
With a starting elevation of approximately 8,200 feet, the altitude took its toll on the racers. “I was definitely hurting in the altitude,” said Sheridan. “It’s really hard to go super fast at an XC pace. Because of the altitude, I backed off a little bit for XC pace and was able to have a little left on the last lap and get enough in front of KC [Holley] (Kuhl, Racers Cycle Service) to come in second.”
The Intermountain Cup MTB series is Utah’s largest cross country mountain bike series and draws racers from across the state and western region. Founded in 1991, the Intermountain Cup consists of X-country and endurance MTB races throughout Utah. With seven X-country races of approximately 25 miles and four endurance races of approximately 50 miles, the series covers some of the most pristine and difficult rides in the state.
The next race in Intermountain Cup’s XC series will be held on August 12 at North Fork, near Eden, Utah. A new addition to the 2017 XC series, the North Fork race includes one of the fastest tracks in the series. More information about the race, including registration, is available at intermountaincup.com.