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Better Than Your Town: This week Bend's best are on the hunt hardware 

Bend's elite cyclists are poised to capture some of the most prized titles in cycling over the course of the next week.

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Bend's elite cyclists are poised to capture some of the most prized titles in cycling over the course of the next week—or coming weeks if we’re talking about Chris Horner. From multi-day endurance slogs, to short and sweet gravity events, to the Tour de France, we have mountain bikers and road racers fighting for glory at the biggest bike races of the year. Here's a look at who's doing what, and where they're doing it. Keep in mind that these guys aren't just pack fodder; they all have a legitimate shot at the podium or first place in their respective races.

There will be a solid contingent of Bend mountain bike racers making the trip to Sun Valley, Idaho this weekend to participate in the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championship races. While a number of Bend juniors, amateur pros and masters racers are planning to toe the start line at both the cross-country and Super D events (shorter, downhill-oriented cross country races), Three of our professionals will be making a run for a national title.

Ryan Trebon: Cross-country National Championships

After riding to victory in Colorado last month while facing off against the nation's best mountain bikers, Ryan Trebon proved that he's in fine form. And Saturday's national cross-country course, with its brutally steep climb and short, non-technical descent should play to Trebon's strengths. This lap-style course, whose uphill sections approach 25 percent, will favor those with the best strength-to-weight ratios—like the powerful but lanky Trebon. The Bend transplant will likely face tough competition from Todd Wells and Sam Schultz, both of whom recently finished inside the top 10 at a recent world cup race and were both named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic mountain biking team.

Adam Craig: Super D National Championships

On Sunday look for Adam Craig to defend the Super D national title that he grabbed last year after beating out good friend, long-time teammate and Bend neighbor Carl Decker, by less than two seconds. The Sun Valley course features one short, hard climb that breaks up an otherwise fast and smooth course. Last year, racing on the same track, Craig covered the distance in 19 minutes, 37 seconds. Though Craig originally carved out his career in the cross-country world, the local ripper recently announced that after this season he will be focusing on Super D events, mountain bike stage races and other gravity-oriented disciples.

Carl Decker: Super D National Championships

While Craig has spent the last two weeks racing and traveling, Carl Decker has elected to rest up and stick closer to home—a move that could pay dividends at the upcoming Super D national championships. Over the years, Decker has scored wins at Downieville, Blitz to the Barrel and other prized Super D events and has shown he is among the best in the country at fitness-heavy Super D races. After finishing second to Craig last year, Decker is hungry for a national title. He's forgoing this year's XC race in order to be in top form for Sunday's race.

And in the endurance realm, deep in the woods of British Columbia, Canada...

Chris Sheppard: B.C. Bike Race

Two-time B.C. Bike Race champion Chris Sheppard is going for a three-peat at the sixth edition of the seven-day mountain bike stage race that started on July 1. British Columbia's popular and technical race has become the golden standard for multi-day mountain bike stage races and a win in B.C. is considered among the most prestigious of all the endurance titles. Sheppard is off to strong start as he finished stage one's 54 kilometers in a three-way sprint for third. The Canadian-turned-Bendite finished third but lost no time to race-winner and fellow Bend resident Barry Wicks, a racer and friend who Sheppard will no doubt battle throughout the weeklong affair.

Barry Wicks: B.C. Bike Race

Wicks has reinvented himself as an endurance specialist and last month won Michigan's Lumberjack 100 (miles!) after finishing third earlier in June at the seven-day Trans-Sylvania stage race outside State College, Penn. New to Bend, the Oregon native has already put his stamp on the this year's edition of the B.C. Bike Race with a win on day one. Expect either Wicks or Sheppard to come home with the race's coveted yellow winner's jersey.

Chris Horner: Tour de France

Last, but far from least is Bend's Chris Horner who, at age 40, is racing at the Tour de France with a team that lacks a clear leader—a role that Horner could fill. After original team leader Andy Schleck was sidelined by a fractured pelvis, Horner got the call to come ride alongside fellow Tour veterans Frank Schleck and Andreas Kloden in an effort to net stage wins for the RadioShack-Nissan team. Though he's likely not in contention for an overall win, Horner could easily take some stage wins and finish inside the top 10 in the general classification. In 2010 Horner rode into ninth place overall and this year he is fit and ready to tangle with the best over the course of the 20-stage race. Horner was also recently named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Bonus Content!

Ian’s Pick’s

Read local cycling phenom Ian Boswell’s picks for this year’s tour as well as an update on the Bend rider’s season to date on the Bent Blog. Or use your smartie phone to beam right to it by snapping the QR code below.

 

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