By Nate Gibby — HURRICANE, UTAH — Kuhl rider Chris Holley won the Elite Men’s division while Storm Cycles Park City’s Ami Stuart took top spot on the podium of the Elite Women’s category at the Intermountain Cup’s inaugural Cactus Hugger X-Country MTB race on April 22, 2017 near Hurricane, Utah.
With the majestic white, cathedral peaks of Zion National Park looming on the horizon and a slight breeze in the face, nearly 300 riders kicked off the second race of the Intermountain Cup’s X-country series. Comprised of segments of the famous JEM Trail system, the course featured an 8.6-mile loop with approximately 550 feet of climbing per lap.
In the Elite Men’s division, Holley, Spanish Fork, Utah, Bryson Perry, Draper, Utah (Rouleur Devo PB DNA Cycling and Summit Cyclery) and Cameron Larson, Pleasant Grove, Utah (Competitive Cyclist Summit) were able to create separation from the rest of the field on the single track section of the first lap. “The three of us stayed together, testing each out in certain sections for the first three laps,” said Holley. “Halfway into the fourth lap, I was able to get a gap on them and stay away from them the rest of the race.” Averaging a scorching 30-minute lap, Holley powered his way to a +1:00 victory.
In the Elite Women’s category, Stuart, of Park City, Utah, started out strong off the line for an early lead, but was soon caught by Anne Perry, Draper, Utah (Bingham Cyclery – Peak Fasteners), Jeanette Peterson, Sandy, Utah (Team Ron) and Jen Hanks, Park City, Utah (Pivot/DNA Cycling Race Team). Stuart and Perry distanced themselves from the group in the single track of the second lap. However, Stuart pulled ahead on the decent of the third lap on her way to a 20-second margin of victory. “[Perry] is a strong rider who almost caught me again on the last climb of the third lap,” said Stuart. “I managed to get ahead of her on the downhill for the win.”
Stuart’s notched her first X-country victory in the Elite Women’s category at the Intermountain Cup’s Cactus Hugger. With only three years of experience mountain biking, she finished near last in the Expert Women category two years ago. “My husband has been racer for 20 years,” she said. “So I started racing with him. Two years later, a lot of skill acquisition and lot of confidence gained, and I won my first [Intermountain] Cup.”