Bailey Cioppa has burst onto the junior women’s mountain bike national scene the last two Fridays in Arkansas.
For the second week in a row, the 17-year-old from Durango claimed the short-track victory in the junior women’s category at the U.S. Cup MTB series in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
This week, she held off California’s Vida Lopez De San Roman in the five-lap frenzy, while Durango’s Ruth Holcomb was third.
“This is my first year in the 17-18 group, so getting away and winning my first two races feels really good,” Cioppa said. “I was kind of disappointed to get a flat in the (cross-country) race last week, so coming back and taking the win in this short-track was really fun.”
Cioppa finished in 24 minutes, 55 seconds. San Roman was second in 25:00, while Holcomb crossed the line in 25:02.30, narrowly ahead of Lakewood’s Sofia Forney, who was fourth in 25:02.40.
Cioppa, Holcomb and San Roman are all teammates on the Bear Development National Team.
“Short-track is a tougher discipline for me,” Holcomb said. “We had some awesome team tactics, though, and it’s always a win when a teammate wins.”
Cioppa credited Holcomb for helping the team get away from the rest of the group on a muddy course after it rained shortly before the race.
“It was super wet out there, and that definitely made it different,” Cioppa said. “But I knew I had a strength on the climb toward the end of the race, and that’s where I attacked. Nobody came with me, and that was good. Ruth really had pulled through in this race, and that was a big reason why we were all up there. The descents were tricky for me, but I knew I had the strength on the climb.”
The juniors will get to race again Sunday in cross-country. Last week, Holcomb skipped the short-track with a stomach bug but dominated in the cross-country race to earn the victory.
Also in Friday’s short-track, Durango’s Ivan Sippy of the newly formed Segment 28 team from Durango claimed third in 21:42. California’s Blake Wray was first in 21:41.30, while Carson Hampton of Idaho was second in 21:41.33. Durango’s Alex Green was 14th in 22:10 in a huge 65-rider field.
A week after he swept the elite men’s short-track and cross-country races, Durango’s Christopher Blevins was already in Europe preparing for the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup season. Meanwhile, his rival for the one U.S. men’s spot in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Keegan Swenson of Utah, claimed the short-track win Friday with a last-lap attack.
“Tactical races are fun and all, but I am definitely a sucker for a good old fashion smash fest,” Swenson said in a post to Instagram. “Just have to put the pedal to the floor and hope the motor doesn’t blow.”
Swenson finished in 20:24.60, nearly two full seconds ahead of Canada’s Tyler Orschel. LeAndre Bouchard of Canada was third in 20:27.65, while Durango’s Cole Paton was fourth in 20:27.81.
“Full throttle today,” Paton said in a post to Instagram. “Gave it everything I had and it was just enough for fourth. It’s been fun to battle at the front these past few races.”
Durango’s Riley Amos was eighth in the short-track in 20:34.97, as he edged fellow Durangoan Stephan Davoust, who was ninth in 20:34.94. Also from Durango, Cobe Freeburn raced to 21st in 20:57, Cody Cupp was 32nd in 21:20, William Dowling recorded a 56th-place finish in 22:27, Garrett Meifert was 65th in 23:01 and Thomas Johann was 70th in the 71-rider field.
The elite women’s race was won by Boulder’s Erin Huck in 23:00.20. Sofia Gomez-Villafane, a FLC alumna, was second in 23:00.87. Savilia Blunk of Durango returned to racing after a training crash sidelined her last weekend. The FLC racer was eighth in 23:26.
“Back in action,” Blunk said in a post to Instagram. “Got caught up in some chaos on the last lap today, but the legs are open and I can’t wait for some XC action on Sunday.”
Sunday’s cross-country race will ride mostly on the same course as last week, though it had a bit of added length and a big rock drop riders will have to tackle each lap. Races will be shortened by one lap each from last week to accommodate the added length.
“It’s big, but I think I got it dialed pretty good,” Holcomb said of the drop.