The North American cross country season officially kicked off on March 2nd with the Pro XCT opener with the Mellow Johnny’s Classic, just an hour outside of Austin.
As always there are a lot of questions of rider’s fitness and form going into a race like this, as well as which teams have done their homework and those who haven’t.
When the dust settled in the Pro men’s race, Jeremiah Bishop answered quite of few of them by taking a solid second place finish to Dan McConnell of Australia, the twenty second-ranked rider in the world and fresh off his National podium just a week prior.
Bishop only lost by two seconds to McConnell, but more importantly he was clearly the most aggressive rider in the five lap affair. Bishop set the pace nearly all day, as he ripped the loose, rocky terrain aboard his Scalpel 29er. At times Bishop strung the field out and looked to break away, but was slowly brought back each time.
“The new team is unbelievable," said Bishop post-race. "It’s so nice to fly in and have everything dialed from the word “Go”. It allowed me to focus on myself and give my best effort. I’m coming off a good winter base, and still feel I have a lot of performance gains to be had in these upcoming weeks, but I’m very happy to start the year off with a solid podium ride.”
Also putting in a fine performance was endurance specialist Alex Grant who took a solid 9th in a stacked men’s pro field. Grant, a two time La Ruta runner up was looking to get out of the Utah snow and mix things up a bit, before hitting the upcoming NUE 100 opener in St. George, Utah in two weeks’ time.
“I’ve been indoors a lot this winter explained Grant. So it’s nice to come out and race your bike down here in Texas. I can’t say enough about the Sho-Air / Cannondale staff for taking great care of me this weekend. My bike was perfect all week long, and I think my 9th place reflects the team effort. I can’t wait to hit some of the upcoming endurance races, which is more my specialty.
Up next for the team is round #2 of the Pro XCT on March 16th at Bonelli Park, where Bishop looks to put in another solid performance.