WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Whitman College soon-to-be senior Mara Abbott ’08, who has been steadily climbing the ladder of success in the cycling world, hit a new high this week.

An economics major and a stand-out on the Whitman swim team, Abbott won the elite women’s road race national championship at the USA Cycling National Festival in Champion, Pa., on Monday (July 17).

According to the Daily Camera, a newspaper located in Abbott’s hometown of Boulder, Co., this win also gave her the Under-23 national title, which was run concurrently. It also proves that Abbott, previously known for her strong climbing abilities, also has strength in sprinting, as she broke out in front of the other racers in the last few kilometers of the race.

Jenn Blomme, Abbott’s Whitman swim coach, said of her latest success, “Clearly Mara is an outstanding athlete.” Just as important, she added, “She’s a wonderful person who has a tremendous passion for everything she does, which I think is key to her success, and I’m sure it will bring her more in the future. Mara obviously has a natural talent for cycling, but she’s also one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached.”

Abbott is a nine-time collegiate national champion who discovered competitive cycling as a freshman at Whitman. A high school swimmer, she joined the Whitman swim team in her freshman year and took up cycling to stay in shape for that sport. In that first year she won two collegiate national championships; as a sophomore she won four championships and this year her record just keeps climbing.

Already this year in competitive cycling, Abbott took second place in the Montreal World Cup and first place at the North Boulder Park Criterium. She also won the Tour of Gila overall title, the Ironhorse criterium and road race and a stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Still ahead this summer she faces a stage race in Altoona, Pa., and then a couple of races in Europe with the U.S. national team before she returns to Whitman to begin her senior year. She also plans to compete in the UCI World Championships in September.

End

CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156 Email: parishlj@whitman.edu