By Vernon Felton
Race photos courtesy of Whiskey Off Road/Devon Balet
You’d be forgiven for thinking Scott Sports was being a bit cocky when, just a few days before the start of this year’s Whiskey 50, the company sent out a press release touting last year’s victory at the Whiskey 50 and promising some stellar events this time around. Sure, the company is the official bike of the Prescott, Arizona event, but still that’s kind of courting hubris, right?
Er, no. Apparently not.
The SCOTT-3Rox team dominated this year’s event as well. Dominated.
Geoff Kabush rolled across the line in first place with a blazing five minute lead on a field that included plenty of hardened pros. Likewise, SCOTT-3Rox rider and XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson delivered the win in the women’s race with a two minute gap.
Geoff opted to ride his full suspension Spark 900 once again, feeling it offered him an advantage over the hardtail. “I was able to put several seconds into the field after the turnaround because I could carry more speed on the Spark,” said Kabush.
“When I entered the final descent I could really open it up and put more time between myself and the rest of the field. It feels great to win a purse like this at an event that is so fun with great trails and atmosphere. I wish this is what every weekend was like.”
Check out the video below to learn more about the Spark 900.
In the women’s race there was a tight battle at the front until the group reached the climb at Skull Valley when Lesley Paterson made her move. “I went conservative in the beginning,” explained Paterson. “I felt like my advantage would be on the climb with my power to weight ratio so I drilled it and put 1.5 minutes into the group by the top. I really didn’t know the course that well and just gave everything to bring my lead into town. In the end it paid off.”
There was also quite a lot of drama heading into the weekend’s race. Though USA Cycling has backed off its original stance, cycling’s governing body here in the United States was originally going to fine any professional racers who attended non-sanctioned (read that as, “small, grassroots”) events this year. We first reported on the ruling back in March.
In a rare show of solidarity, several pro teams, including SCOTT 3-Rox, sent their pro squads to the Whiskey 50 anyway. USA Cycling’s position has softened some in the past few weeks, which is a good thing for the sport as smaller races can use all the support from the bike industry they can get.
As for SCOTT 3-Rox, the team left the Whiskey 50 on a high—it’s been a hell of an early season tear; first with Kabush’s second place finish at Sea Otter, just before the Whiskey 50, and now the sweep in Arizona.
“We came to Prescott guns a blazing for the Whiskey 50,” said Adrian Montgomery, Scott’s PR and marketing manager. “It was perfect, we’re the Official Bike of the event and officially took home the ‘W.’ Needless to say, the Whiskey Off Road is an event we’ll be back for and we are looking forward to the Grand Junction event.”