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Peat repeats in the downhill at NORBA race

Top-ranked Giove wins women’s event

SHARE Peat repeats in the downhill at NORBA race

DEER VALLEY — You've got to know when to go and when to hold, to paraphrase the old ballad, which it would seem Steve Peat of England knows all too well.

Sunday he won his sixth consecutive mountain bike downhill in the NORBA Nationals at Deer Valley. Six in a row without a crash or a broken fork or a flat tire in downhill racing is a feat unto itself.

It is a sport where track designers pick a downhill run that is the most difficult, the rockiest, the bumpiest, the roughest route possible and then tell riders to simply "go as fast as you dare."

If you go too fast in some sections, you could crash or break something; if you go too slow you could lose. Peat, apparently, knows when to go and when to slow.

In the women's race, Missy Giove of Durango, Colo., currently No. 1 in downhill standing, proved why. She bettered the No. 2-ranked rider, Elke Brutsaert, also from Durango, by more than three seconds.

Along with knowing how fast to ride, the one thing both winners seemed to have over the field was that little edge in confidence: That is, knowing that no matter what shows up in the path, it can be ridden.

Peat had it, and so did Giove.

Brutsaert said she is still a little nervous after a crash early in the season, "so now I find myself scared to death in some terrain. There were no real bad spots for me today, but I wasn't as confident as I needed to be."

Nicolos Vouilloz of France, runner-up in the men's race, said he felt OK on his run.

"But my time was not so good this morning (in qualifying). For my first time here I was not as confident as I should have been," he said as he waited for the last few riders to finish.

Peat's time down the mountainside was three minutes, 40.67 seconds, to a 3:43.36 for Vouilloz. Third was Chris Kovarik of Australia in 3:45.40, and fourth was John Kirkaldie of Santa Barbara in 3:48.94. Greg Smith of Moab finished 40th.

For the women, Giove ran a 4:23.5, Brutsaert a 4:26.85, Leigh Donovan of Capistrano Beach, Calif., a 4:31.15 and Kathy Pruitt of Lake Almanor, Calif., a 4:35.48.

What caught a lot of racers off guard were changes in the course between morning qualifying and afternoon racing. In between, the course was open to amateurs and experts. What they did was roughen it up — a lot.

Donovan was the No. 1 qualifier in the morning, but said she was a little sloppy in the afternoon. "The course was a lot rougher. Rocks got moved onto the trails and the holes were a lot deeper," said one of the sport's top riders, who recently announced her retirement after this season.

Giove also talked about changes in the course and admitted that Sunday she rode with a little luck. "In qualifying I crashed in the Rock Garden (a 10-foot rock cliff). When I hit it today I stayed off my front brake and, with arm strength, was able to pull it off. A lot of riders hit their front brakes and went over the bars at that spot."

Peat also talked about the roughness of the course and said at one point he hit so hard "both feet came off the pedals. Luckily, my long legs saved me and I was able to get my balance and ride on. Whatever comes, you've got to ride it and know you can."

The event drew more than 2,000 riders from around the world, and more than 12,000 spectators showed up to watch over the four days of racing.

E-MAIL: grass@desnews.com