San Dimas, California - Christopher Blevins won for the sixth time this season on the mountain bike circuit by using some of his road racing experience.
Heading into the final corner Sunday at the USA Cycling US Cup Bonelli Park Short Track race, Blevins was wheel-to-wheel in a group of six that had stayed together for much of the 15-minutes-plus-three-laps race.
"It stayed together like a fat tire criterium," Blevins said. "There was no separation from any of the attacks so I used what I know from road racing to position myself well. It was a finish where you have to be on the inside because you run a lot shorter of a line. Fortunately, I was able to get that inside line."
The 19-year-old from Durango, Colorado, edged out multi-time national champion Todd Wells into the corner and wheeled his Specialized S-Works Epic Hardtail bike to a one-second win over Cameron Ivory. Wells was third, Anton Cooper (Trek Factory Racing) fourth and his Specialized Racing teammate, Howard Grotts, was fifth.
Blevins's victory was the third of the weekend by an Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team rider and the 15th of the season overall for the American Under 23 cycling development program headed up by Axel Merckx.
On Saturday, Blevins finished third in the cross country race behind Cooper and Grotts. In the US Cup series opener last weekend, Blevins swept both races at the Fontana National Cup. Those results helped him increase his lead in the US Cup series that now moves to the East Coast for its final two races. The Eastern Grind at Catamount is July 15-16 in Williston, Vermont, followed by the Boston Rebellion July 29-30 in Walpole, Massachusetts.
The reigning junior national mountain bike champion said he is surprised at the success he is having in his first season as a professional.
"I knew I had the confidence to be up there with those guys, but I did not expect to be able to beat some of them," Blevins said. "It is definitely an honor to be riding with them and competing so well against high competition."
Blevins said he will return to Durango to begin training for his next race with Axeon Hagens Berman, the Tour of the Gila, April 19-23, in Silver City, New Mexico.
Header photo by Field Blevins.