Colombian wins fifth-straight Garbanzo DH 

Hannah wins pro women's field by 10 seconds

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - PROWLING DOWN Colombia's Marcelo Gutierrez-Villegas won the Garbanzo DH for a fifth consecutive year on Aug. 15.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • PROWLING DOWN Colombia's Marcelo Gutierrez-Villegas won the Garbanzo DH for a fifth consecutive year on Aug. 15.

Marcelo Gutierrez-Villegas has bean there, done that in the Garbanzo DH.

The Colombian rider pulled off his fifth consecutive win in the event, besting Kiwi and 2011 champion Sam Blenkinsop and Aussie Jack Moir to score the win on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Gutierrez-Villegas blazed to a winning time of 12 minutes, 21.19 seconds (12:21.19) to defeat Blenkinsop by 6.17 seconds and Moir by 15.94 seconds.

"The difference was probably the pressure. The track is going to be the track. It's going to be long. It's going to be dusty. It's going to be physical. It's going to be challenging," he said. "I'm glad that I managed and I'm glad I won again."

Gutierrez-Villegas downplayed the gap, noting over the course of seven kilometres, six seconds doesn't leave a lot of room for error.

"On a track like this, six seconds is not too much," he said. "No matter what, you have to push all the way down."

Blenkinsop, meanwhile, thought he might have a run to hearken back six years, when he topped Gutierrez-Villegas, but it wasn't quite enough in the end.

Riding his trail bike just two days after completing the Canadian Open Enduro, Blenkinsop put together a strong run with a lone costly mistake.

"I felt like I could have won but I just had a quick little crash in one of the sections. I don't think I lost too much time, but it was enough to lose the win," he said. "The other guys were definitely a lot fresher than me, but I'm pretty good at the long-distance stuff, so it doesn't really affect me too much."

On the women's side, Australian downhill superstar Tracey Hannah took the Garbanzo win for the first time, besting local Claire Buchar by 10.98 seconds and Swiss rider Emilie Siegenthaler by 15.33 seconds.

With such a lengthy course, Hannah said it's easy to put any small mistakes behind her.

"I was just hoping for a smooth run and a fast run to see what I could do. I definitely was going for the win, but I didn't think I could do it by 10 seconds so it's very exciting," she said. "You take it as it comes. It's a long track anyway so you can't remember.

"I was pushing as hard as I could push and then when I got a bit puffed out, I had to pull it back and then when I got my breath back, go again."

Buchar, a three-time champion and podium regular, said her practice round wasn't up to her standards and she kept her expectations in check, but was ultimately pleased overall.

"I didn't know where I would slot in with these ladies, so overall, I'm pretty happy with it," she said. "(After practice) I sped up my rebound both front and rear just slightly so that helped quite a bit. It was a last-minute idea but it seemed to help.

"I remember being a bit into my run and knew that I was riding well, so I just kept that positive momentum going forward."

Amateur winners were: Pemberton's Lucas Cruz (youth men 15-16); North Vancouver's Drew Mozell (youth men 13-14); Squamish's Ainhoa Ijurko (junior women 13-18); Sweden's Lina Skoglund (senior women 19-plus); New Zealand's Steve Murphy (veteran men 40-plus); Vancouver's Nicholas Scott (master men 30-39); Australia's Jake Byrne (senior men 19-29); and American Nikolas Nestoroff (junior men 17-18).

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