Tim Brown and Gene Hilton left the start together and crossed the finish together. Which is noteworthy because the two Utah riders finished one-two in the semi-pro cross country in Friday's NORBA National Championship bike races.
If you discount the fact there were 51 other riders, this was an all-Utah race - start to finish.For three of the four laps, Brown and Hilton exchanged the lead with no other riders in sight to challenge them.
Then, according to Brown, Garett Heitman of Everett, Wash., appeared in the distance.
At this point the two Utah riders picked up what was already an exhaustive pace. After more than 18 of the 24 miles of uphill and downhill riding, they suddenly had a challenger appear.
According to one of the team's crew members, Brown, who is considered the better sprinter of the two, was able to pull away and hold the lead for most of the final lap to the finish.
Brown, from Salt Lake City, won the event in two hours, 16.19 seconds. Hilton, from Provo, posted a time of 2:16.45. Heitman was able to hold on to third but was nearly a minute and a half behind the winner.
Race officials said the fact that the two Utah riders were able to take the lead early and then stay together was a big help. They were able to set a comfortable pace without interference and were able to do some drafting on the faster downhill runs.
The semi-pro class is considered a training ground for riders jumping up from the expert class. Hitting the pro class without some training is difficult for young riders. And Brown, 21, and Hilton, 22, are young in comparison to the top pros. Tammy Jacques and Ruth Matthews, one-two in the pro women's cross country, are 33. David Wiens and David Juarez, one-two in the pro men's cross country, are 33 and 37, respectively.
Other Utahns doing well in the semi-pro event included Bart Gillespie of Provo, 14th; Espen Wethe of Salt Lake City, 29th; Bryan Gillespie of Provo, 35th; and Matthew Ohran of Provo, 42nd.
The series will continue today with the pro downhill finals at 10:30 a.m. and the pro dual slalom finals at 5:30 p.m. There will also be finals in downhill for beginners, sport and semi-pros. On Sunday, the women's pro cross country will begin at 10 a.m. and the men's pro cross country at 1 p.m.
Nearly 2,000 bike racers are at Deer Valley for this event.