The American Bicycle Association kicked off their 2011 season this weekend with their customary Silver Dollar Nationals in Reno, Nevada. With the new season came a handful of sponsor changes, a few riders out on injury, and a few missing in action. The loss of attendees had no effect on the action though, with riders itching to get a jump on the UCI and ABA points that were up for grabs.
In Elite Men, the story of the weekend was Donny Robinson, Mike Day and Kyle Bennett making their comebacks (after all three spent most of 2010 out on injury.) Another name that was floating around quite a bit was Corben Sharrah, who broke into the Elite ranks on his new ride, a GT. Speed's Marc Willers would hold down the class on Saturday, taking care of every lap as if they were destined to be his. Sharrah was giving him a run for the money though, looking for a pass at every turn. And for just entering the Elite ranks, you can bet he was psyched to have a spot up on the podium. Olympian Donny Robinson (Hyper) would make up the third spot on the podium for Saturday. After bumping his way through a couple of turns, dR checked off most of the names on his "People I would like to beat" list, keeping his goals in tact.
On day two, everything changed. Haro's Nic Long and Free Agent's Kyle Bennett jumped into the main event and put on a show. Bennett had the holeshot and lead with Long, Denzel Stein and Jason Rogers in tow. The other four riders tangled up on the second straight, leaving this four-man wrecking crew to do work. It looked like Bennett had his first win back in his pocket, but Long edged him out at the line, just enough to take the official win.
Junior Elite Men is shaping up to be a very serious class this year. With A handful of riders graduating up from the USA Cycling's Junior Development program, they are primed for these races. In 2010, it was never a surprise to see Rusty Nesvig (Intense), Austin Loebe (Rennen/Intense) and Jordan Miranda (Clayborn) in the mix, and it looks like 2011 is going to be a similar story. Nesvig doubled down this weekend. After a solid day Saturday, he came into Sunday fresh and took everything home. Lain Van Ogle (Redman) followed him all weekend, earning himself two spots in second on the podium. Thirds were split between Austin Loebe and Alfred Campo. Aside from the domestic series, a lot of these younger riders will be bumping heads around the word at the Supercross races, and hopefully making big moves.
Elite Women continues to be dominated by Dominique Daniels. Daniels doubled down this past weekend, taking home the win on both Saturday and Sunday with Amanda Geving (MCS), Ashley Verhagen (Crupi/Pro-Gate) and Arielle Martin (VSI) in tow. Daniels took the wins when they counted all weekend, despite being pushed and challenged lap after lap. Her domination may be on its way out in the next couple of races, but only time will tell.
Junior Elite Women had a new lady in black, Brooke Crain. Brooke was picked up by Haro for the 2011 season and did her boys proud, riding with style and akin home wins. Crain cleaned house on both Saturday and Sunday, straight killing the rhythm section. While Crain stole the show, Taylor Wolcott and Dani George (Supercross) split the 2's and Carly Dyar (Redline) split third with RRC's Audrey Zuloaga.