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Kabush sweeps to third straight Moab Rocks win

Katerina Nash rides clear to women's win at three-day mountain bike stage race in Utah

Geoff Kabush landed three wins in three days of racing at the 2019 Moab Rocks stage race to win the race for a third year in a row. On the women’s side, Katerina Nash started her mountain bike season with a win in Utah. Then, in the master’s 40+ races, Canadians were fourth in the men’s and women’s events.

While Kabush was happy to take the win, he said defending his Moab Rocks title isn’t the only reason he’s returned for three straight years.

“For me it’s the same as everyone, I’m coming to the race to enjoy the incredible scenery and the cool trails,” the Canadian said of racing on the rocks of Utah. “When I started racing, Moab was the most legendary mountain bike destination. Now I’m at a point in my career that I come here and really enjoy it.”

Moab Rocks 2019
Geoff Kabush cruises the famous Moab slickrock. Image: John Gibson

Katerina Nash had similar reasons for starting her mountain bike season in Moab. “I was here two years ago and didn’t compete, but I saw part of the race,” said the perennially fast Clif Pro Team rider. “I decided if I came back to Moab I would race this event because everybody seemed so excited about the race and the trails here.”

Moab Rocks 2019
Geoff Kabush and Travis Hauck enjoy post-race podium snacks in Moab. Image: John Gibson

For Travis Hauck, who finished fourth in the men’s masters 40+ race, it was a great way to get back on the bike after a long winter in Nelson, B.C. Coming from the cold of a Kootenay winter, Sunday’s surprise flurries weren’t the race’s biggest challenge for Hauck.

“That was my second, third and fourth bike ride of the season, so it was exciting to be out there and feel that good,” said Hauck. “I mean, the first ride didn’t feel that great, but it was good after that.”

While the race was an early test of his training for master’s world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que. later this August, Hauck says he’s already looking forward to riding the slickrock at a more relaxed pace in the future.

“It was my first time riding in Moab, and now I’m excited to get back there and bring my kids out riding. It was a pretty rushed trip, so It’ll be good to get back for a more relaxed time later on.”

Moab Rocks 2019
Geoff Kabush leads the pack on his way to winning Stage 3 and the overall classification at 2019 Moab Rocks. Image: John Gibson
Kabush uses technical skills to sweep Moab Rocks men’s race

Three wins in three day for a third victory seems very neat and tidy, but Geoff Kabush (Yeti Maxxis) had to get through close racing and constant pressure from the chasing group to pull of the natural hat trick of Moab Rocks titles.

“It was great to have a strong group of guys again to ride with this year – I just tried to take advantage of a few moments where I could use my skills to squeeze out a bit of time from the chasing pack,” Kabush said after the final day of racing. “The gaps were small and with the incredibly challenging terrain here I couldn’t relax till I saw the finish line on day three.”

When he did cross the line on the final day of racing, Kabush had a one minute thirty second advantage over his closest competitor. But with the next five riders crossing within four seconds of each other after two hours of racing, the pressure was never of the race leader.

Moab Rocks 2019
Marc Andre Daigle improved on his race number to finish 12th in Utah. Image: John Gibson

Justin Lindine (Apex) led the chase group over the finish line, with Taylor Lideen (Pivot Cycles) behind in third. But, with Carl Skilsky (CZ Racing) just 1.5 seconds behind, Lindine had to settle for third overall. Skilsky finished second to Kabush in Moab Rocks for a second straight year.

Montreal’s Marc-Andre Daigle was the next fastest Canuck in Utah, finishing 12th overall. Andre Landry of Cap-Pele, N.B. ends Moab Rocks in 15th while Maxim Charland of Mont-Tremblant, Que. rode consistently all weekend to a 19th overall.

Moab Rocks 2019
Katerina Nash rides to a win in her first Moab Rocks appearance. Image: John Gibson
Nash opens her mountain bike season with a win

For Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team), Moab Rocks was the first race of her mountain bike race calendar. The three-day race was a good event to test early season form, while also mixing in a bit of adventure.

“I had three good days and enjoyed most of it but got a little cold in the snowstorm on Stage 2. Reflecting on the snowstorm now, it seems like it was epic and made the race fun,” said Nash after her win. “Just riding the trails in Moab is something I wanted to do, it was even more fun to race them.” While Nash’s considerable margin of victory made it look easy from the outside, the rocky Moab trails kept the racing hard. “I was happy to have a clean run all three days. I stayed on my bike and kept it all together. This was challenging racing here.”

Moab Rocks 2019
Chloe Cross enjoying the final day of racing in Utah. Image: John Gibson

The TransRockies event was also a chance for Nash to test her form ahead of the first major mountain bike event of the season. “I hope it’s what I need for Sea Otter – after racing cx in the winter I don’t do that much mountain biking,” said Nash, adding the race’s mix of technical challenge and length was ideal. “Moab Rocks is good opener for the beginning of my season. Three days is perfect for a stage race this time of year.”

2019 Moab Rocks stage race
Women’s Open category overall winners from left: Karen Jarchow (2nd), Katerina Nash (1st) and Marlee Dixon (3rd). Image: John Gibson

Karen Jarchow (Team Topeak-Ergon) finished second in Utah, followed by Pivot-Pearl Izumi’s Marlee Dixon. Whistler’s Chloe Cross (Team Whistler) moved steadily up the leader board each day in Moab. A sixth on the final day of racing moved Cross into the same position in the GC rankings.

Nanaimo, B.C.’s Stephanie Green finished 12th, one spot ahead of Blainville, Que.’s Josée Heppell. Calgary, Alta.’s Jaqueline Jenkins finished 14th on the final day to move up into 15th overall.

Moab Rocks 2019
Travis Hauck charges to fourth in the masters 40+ race. Image: John Gibson
Masters of Moab

Two Canadian’s finished fourth in the masters 40+ races at Moab Rocks. Nelson, B.C.’s Travis Hauck in the men’s race, and Ladysmith, B.C.’s Tara Pollock on the women’s side. Hauck added some extra excitement to his race by driving 2,000 km down from B.C. with a friend to arrive the night before the event.

“We left Nelson at 5am, drove straight through to arrive in Moab at 3am, then raced the next morning,” said Hauck, “So we were kinda loopy starting out, but we didn’t have much time off work, so we just kinda did what we had to.”

Moab Rocks
Travis Hauck follows Yuki Ikeda down the Moab slickrock with Nathaniel Vacura following behind. Image: John Gibson

With his home trails still blanketed by snow, it was a chance to test his speed after a long winter off the bike.

“I’ve been doing lots of strength training indoors this winter,” said Hauck of his successful return to race pace. “There was some huge benefits to that, just being able to get up and over some of those rocks. There were lots of push-ups this winter, and lots of burpee’s.”

“It was a fun way to get back on my bike,” said Hauck. But the Canadian has his sights set on bigger events further down the road. “I’ve been doing lots of work to get ready for master’s world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne later this summer, and it was good to see that that’s been paying off.”

Moab Rocks 2019
One of the Vancouver Island contingent from Coal City Cycles takes in the Utah views. Image: John Gibson

Behind Hauck, a cluster of Canucks finished up Moab Rocks in the mid-teens. Bromont, Que.’s Christian Gauvin led the way in 15th, while Guillaume Nadeau of St. Joseph du Lac was one spot behind. Robin Dutton (Nanaimo, B.C.) squeezed inside the top-20, finishing 19th, while Jean Sebastien Lareau (Marieville, Que) and Benoit Larocque (Prevost, Que) were 22nd and 23rd.

Moab Rocks 2019
Closing scenes at the 2019 Moab Rocks stage race. Image: Jean McAllister