Three local cyclists have been chosen to represent the United States in the mountain Biking world championship Aug. 31-Sept. 6 in Vallnord, Andorra, the landlocked country between Spain and France.
Cypress Gorry, Neko Mulally, and Luca Shaw are among the 36 other athletes that will wear the stars and stripes, racing some of the best athletes in the world.
Gorry, a senior at Brevard College this fall, is a cross-country athlete from Payson, Ariz. Gorry was automatically given a spot on the team to represent the U.S. after his win at the USA national championships race. Gorry races for the Specialized Whole Athlete team based out of California, but has made Brevard his home during his time as a student. Gorry just left the country to get acclimated to the conditions in Andorra and is one of four “Under 23” athletes that will race for gold.
Mulally is an assistant coach for the Brevard Tornado’s mountain bike team. His specialty is downhill racing, and he has been on the World Cup race circuit this season racing for the GSTAAD-Scott mountain bike team. Mulally moved to Brevard two years ago from Reading, Pa ., to escape the cold winter and because of the access to training grounds in the national forests and state parks that have become so popular with cyclists.
Mulally’s favorite trail is the upper part of Black Mountain, where the trail is steep and rutted, terrain that is similar to the ski resorts where most of the World Cup races are held. ”I am really looking forward to World Champs in Vallnord this year,” he said. “The track is really steep and gnarly, which suits me well. This will be my sixth year racing World Champs, and I hope to improve from last year.”
Mulally finished fourth in the World Championship race last year, after snapping his chain on one of the first jumps at the top of the course. Shaw has been the second fastest American on the downhill circuit this season, trailing behind Californian Aaron Gwin, the 2015 World Cup Champion.
To be crowned champ, riders must lead the six-race series as it travels the world stopping at different venues. The last race was held in Val Di Sole, Italy, where Gwin won again. The World Championship race is different than the traveling World Cup series. It is a week-long event with all disciplines present at the same venue.
As the second most consistent American, Shaw has been turning heads and finished 13.408 seconds behind the winner. Times are tight in downhill racing, and Shaw placed 42 overall. At 18, he has only raced pro for one year on the SRAM/Troy Lee Designs team. Shaw was ready to enroll at Brevard College in his freshman year this fall, but was offered a contract to race professionally and is putting his education on the back burner while the opportunity is there.
The Brevard College head cycling coach Brad Perley will miss Shaw in the ranks of his athletes, but he is happy for Shaw.
“I guess it’s good and bad,” Perley said. “He got a pretty nice offer to be a professional athlete. I’m really happy for him. Neko has been helping out our gravity team for a couple of years. He’s a great coach, and it’s a great opportunity. For us, as a school and a community to see him compete at the world champion level, it puts us in a great situation. He’s one of the best in the world really.”
Perley also praised Gorry and his hard work ethic as a goal oriented athlete who still had tons of potential.
“Cypress is always someone I can use as a great example of a dedicated athlete,” said Perley. “He won nationals this summer. He’s in the best form of his life so far. It’s a great testament to the terrain here (in Brevard) and, of course, the support of the community. It raises the bar and the general atmosphere of our team. I wish them all the best.”