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Wells 'flat' out survives to win Greenbrier title

April 30, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

BOONSBORO - By the time Todd Wells' worst fear was realized Sunday at the Greenbrier Challenge mountain bike race, he didn't have the time to worry about it.

"It was rocky. I was worried about flatting all day," said Wells, 31, of Durango, Colo. "I was really trying not to flat. Five more minutes, I would have made it."

Wells' rear tire flatted with just a little more than a half-mile remaining in the 28.5-mile men's Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) elite pro race. He began the fifth of five 5.7-mile laps with a 47-second lead on Jeremiah Bishop, who had trailed by more than a minute a lap earlier.

"I was nervous because I knew Bishop had closed the gap," said Wells, a 2004 Olympian who began the day ranked first in the U.S. and eighth in the world in UCI points.

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Fixing his problem would take too much time.

"It would take at least two minutes to change the tire, if everything went right," Wells said. "But it was pretty much downhill from there, so I figured I could probably roll it in and be OK."

He crossed the finish line on his shredded tire in 2 hours, 1 minute, 46 seconds. And he was more than OK, because Bishop had suffered a flat tire on the last lap as well.

Jeff Schalk of Washington, D.C., was the runner-up in 2:09:23; Chris Eatough of Ellicott City, Md., placed third in 2:09:26; and Bishop, of Harrisonburg, Va., wound up fourth in 2:09:58.

"I rode the whole last lap on the flat, and ran all the uphills," said Bishop, who began the race ranked seventh in the U.S. "Too bad. I did my best."

"It's tough, but that's part of racing, especially on a course like this that's so rocky and technical," said Katie Compton, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "It's nice to have a cushion in case something happens."

Compton gave herself more than enough cushion in the women's four-lap UCI elite race, leading from start to finish and winning by more than two minutes in 1:57:46.

Susan Haywood of Harrisonburg, Va., finished second in 1:59:51, and Megan Monroe of Boulder, Colo., was third in 2:09:35.

"I came here to have a good race," said Compton, the three-time defending national cyclocross champion. "I just tried to keep the pace and not lose focus and try not to flat."

The UCI races, of which there are only a dozen in North America this year, highlighted a full day of racing at Greenbrier State Park. Riders secure berths in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing with UCI points.

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