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Garbanzo DH leaves winners gassed

Buchar, Gutierrez VIllegas repeat as champs

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Bean there, done that.

Even though both acknowledged they were gassed, the Garbanzo DH saw repeat winners in both pro categories, with local Claire Buchar and Colombian Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas topping the podium once again.

Both winners admitted they were in a bit tougher this year, as a flat straightaway section right off the top served to drain them and others before competition really even got going. Buchar said her familiarity with the area seemed to make the difference to separate her from the field, though.

"I was a bit surprised. I knew Miranda would be really hard to beat and a lot of these girls are super strong," she said. "But these are my woods, so I understand that I have an advantage for sure, just feeling at home on this terrain. I don't necessarily ride these trails every day - on purpose - but I feel at home here."

Buchar explained it was a challenging day, as the flat section early on forced riders to pedal. The on-course conditions didn't make it easy on the tired riders either.

"I felt pretty awful. It's really hard to pedal your downhill bike for that long," she said. "Things dried up pretty quickly and there were a lot of holes and berms. It keeps you on your toes and it's hard to do when you're that tired."

On the men's side, Villegas completed the threepeat and has now been on the race's podium six years running. He said his fitness was put to the test and ultimately carried the day for him.

"I'm fit. I like training hard and I like riding my bike a lot," he said. "I could tell some people even before they're racing, they just give up because it's too much for them.

"They made it even harder. It was more physical. But I still tried hard and today, I was dying. Halfway down, my legs were like, no gas anymore. I still had to go all the way to the bottom."

Gutierrez Villegas said the major challenge is finding the sweet spot of working and saving oneself to complete the race, a balance that became harder to gauge this year.

"You try to chill but every time you do that and you stop pedalling because you're trying to rest a bit, I also think 'If you don't pedal maybe when you cross the finish line and someone's beaten you by half a second, you go I should have just pedalled harder,'" he reasoned. "It's a hard track to figure out."

The dry conditions, Gutierrez Villegas explained, did him no favours.

"It's harder when you're tired and you have no grip. You start sliding and it's hard to manage," he said.

Miranda Miller and Anneke Beerten completed the top three for the women while Buchar's husband Chris Kovarik and Sam Blenkinsop also hit the podium on the men's side. The third-place finish, in particular, helped Beerten extend her overall lead in the Queen of Crankworx race.

Winners took home $1,500 while other podium-finishers earned $1,000 and $750, respectively.

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