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Overall champion James Sharp of Hanau races Saturday at Soldier’s Lake at Ansbach, Germany. Sharp, a 40-and-older master’s rider, won in 49 minutes, 8 seconds.

Overall champion James Sharp of Hanau races Saturday at Soldier’s Lake at Ansbach, Germany. Sharp, a 40-and-older master’s rider, won in 49 minutes, 8 seconds. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

Overall champion James Sharp of Hanau races Saturday at Soldier’s Lake at Ansbach, Germany. Sharp, a 40-and-older master’s rider, won in 49 minutes, 8 seconds.

Overall champion James Sharp of Hanau races Saturday at Soldier’s Lake at Ansbach, Germany. Sharp, a 40-and-older master’s rider, won in 49 minutes, 8 seconds. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

Christine Gritzke of Vilseck, Germany, coasts to the finish line Saturday at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach, Germany.

Christine Gritzke of Vilseck, Germany, coasts to the finish line Saturday at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach, Germany. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

Howard Pepper of Hanau turns pedestrian during the first hill climb Saturday at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach. An accident later in the race ended Pepper’s run.

Howard Pepper of Hanau turns pedestrian during the first hill climb Saturday at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach. An accident later in the race ended Pepper’s run. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

Jeff Clayton of Stuttgart negotiates a turn during Saturday’s race at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach, Germany.

Jeff Clayton of Stuttgart negotiates a turn during Saturday’s race at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach, Germany. (Rusty Bryan / S&S)

ANSBACH, Germany — James Sharp of Hanau made it 5-for-5 Saturday by winning the Ansbach leg of the 11-stop 2006 U.S. Forces Europe Mountain Bike Championship series.

“I just have to cut six minutes from my time to catch him,” Jeff Clayton of Stuttgart said with a smile after Sharp, a 40-years-and-older masters rider, covered the 20-kilometer circuit at Soldier’s Lake in Ansbach in 49 minutes, 8 seconds, for his fifth victory in five tries this season. Clayton, also a masters competitor, clocked the second-best time of the day, 54:57.

Only 21 male riders showed for Saturday’s fifth event in the annual mountain bike series, but that was OK with Sharp. His biggest competitor is himself.

“I look at what I did on the course the previous year and try to beat last year’s time,” he said. “Of course, you can’t always do that, because the courses change.”

Ansbach’s did after a summer of tree-cutting by German foresters forced race organizers to alter the course and man chain saws to remove fallen timber from the layout they did end up using.

“It was a good course,” Sharp said of the final result of all the lumberjacking. “It had places where you had to work hard and concentrate hard and places on the backside where you could recover.”

Sharp said the small field made no difference.

“This is a good race,” he said. “There are lots of different racers here.”

Sharp and Clayton constituted two-thirds of the racers who broke the one-hour barrier Saturday. The third was military-open winner Chris Huffmine of Illesheim, who clocked 59:23.

Saturday’s women’s field, which rode 12 kilometers, consisted of only two finishers, winner Christine Gritzke of Vilseck, who clocked 49:21, and runner-up Angela Tague of Miesau, who finished in 51:35.

“In the other races, there were 10-12 women,” Gritzke said. “It helps to have a bigger field. When you’re by yourself, you tend to get in a groove and stay there.”

Gritzke did all she personally could to expand the field, bringing her father in from California to help fill out the men’s civilian masters field.

“My dad’s 60. He’s done two Ironman triathlons, but he didn’t start triathlon until he was 50,” she said.

Harry Gritzke, of Sacramento, finished his 20 kilometers in 1:16:07.

“It’s good training for me,” said Gritzke, who rode a borrowed bike for his second race in this series. He returns to the U.S. on Wednesday.

Other category winners on Saturday were Nathan Kenworthy of Schweinfurt, 1:00:18 in the military seniors for riders age 30-39; Chris Wolff of Vicenza, 1:14:27 in the civilian open; Sean Dullum of Heidelberg, 1:11:54 in the civilian masters, and Paul Sherrick of Kitzingen, 1:14:19 in the civilian masters.

The 2006 mountain bike series will pass the halfway point next Saturday at Ramstein. Next month’s events are Dexheim on Aug. 5, Kaiserslautern on Aug. 20 and Darmstadt on Aug. 26. The season concludes with events in Sembach on Sept. 2 and the annual series finale, the Fat Tire Spectacular, in Garmisch on Sept. 10.

Ansbach Mountain Bike Race

(all towns in Germany, unless otherwise noted)

ANSBACH, Germany — Results Saturday in the Ansbach Mountain Bike Race, the fifth of 11 stops in the U.S. Forces Europe Mountain Bike Championship series. Women rode 12 kilometers; men 20:

Women’s open: 1, Christine Gritzke (Vilseck) 49 minutes, 21 seconds; 2, Angela Tague (Miesau) 51:35.

Men’s military open: 1, Chris Huffmine (Illesheim) 59 minutes, 23 seconds; 2, Rosendo Henriquez (Illesheim) 1:05:52; 3, Richard Bustamante (Ansbach) 1:10:23; 4, John Fowler (Illesheim) 1:16:50.

Men’s military seniors (30-39 years): 1, Nathan Kenworthy (Schweinfurt) 1 hour, 18 seconds; 2, Julio Botero (Illesheim) 1:02:07; 3, Chad Bartko (Würzburg) 1:07:08; 4, Hoa Ewing (Stuttgart) 1:17:18; 5, Anthony Giodano (Ansbach) 1:23:25.

Men’s military masters: 1, James Sharp (Hanau) 49 minutes, 8 seconds; 2, Jeff Clayton (Stuttgart) 54:57; 3, Matthew Girard (Stuttgart) 1:07:45; 4, Erich Roeder (Stuttgart) 1:22:43.

Civilian men’s open: 1, Chris Wolff (Vicenza, Italy) 1 hour, 14 minutes, 27 seconds.

Civilian men’s seniors (30-39 years): 1, Sean Dullum (Heidelberg) 1:11:54.

Civilian men’s masters (40 years and older): 1, Paul Sherrick (Kitzingen) 1:14:19; 2, Harry Gritzke (Sacramento, Calif.) 1:16:07.


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