Elite mountain bikers returning to Williston

Olympian Lea Davison competeting in Nove Mesto a World Cup competition in the Czech Republic in 2013. The Jericho, Vermont native returns to her home state to compete in the Catamount Classic in Williston on July 26.
Jericho native Lea Davison will defend her title at the Catamount race this weekend. Locals can meet several of the pro cyclists after a screening of ‘Half the Road,’ a documentary about the lingering inequalities in women’s cycling. The screening benefits Little Bellas, a non-profit founded by Lea and Sabra Davison.

­Observer staff report

For the second year, mountain biking’s top athletes will converge on Williston for the final race of a summer-long series.
The race is the last stop of the Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour, a seven-race series that draws the leading male and female riders.
Jericho native Lea Davison, an Olympic mountain biker who won last year’s Catamount Classic, is set to compete in the event again. Davison also won the Pro XT series last year, but this season an injury prevented her from competing in all of the qualifying races.
“I’m excited to be back in Vermont and racing on my home course at Catamount,” Davison said. “Nothing beats the love from local fans. I can’t tell you how much that support means to me.”
The Catamount Classic is set for Saturday, July 26 at Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, part of a weekend of racing and activities for all ages and levels. The event features bike demos, food vendors and kids’ activities.
Saturday’s Pro XCT starts at noon for men and 2:30 p.m. for the women’s event. Sunday features a short track competition starting at 2 p.m. for men and 2:45 p.m. for women.
On the same weekend, Lea Davison and her sister, competitive rider Sabra Davison, are hosting a screening of “Half the Road”—a documentary outlining the challenges facing elite female cyclists. Several of the tour’s mountain bikers will be on hand to meet locals and answer questions.
The film screening, set for July 26 at 7 p.m. at Main Street Landing in Burlington, will benefit Jericho-based Little Bellas. Founded by the sisters, the mountain biking foundation’s goal is to “help young women realize their potential through cycling,” according to its website.
“We are really excited to bring this film to Burlington, especially when focus is turned to pro cycling with the Pro XCT in town,” Lea Davison said. “‘Half the Road’ tells the story that is sadly familiar to top female athletes. When it comes to elite-level and pro competition, it’s still in many ways a man’s world. We hope by bringing this film here, Little Bellas can help raise awareness about inequity in sports and push for change.”
“Half the Road” was directed by Kathryn Bertine, who documented her road to the 2012 Olympics. She realized that prize money for women was much lower than for men, no base salary or union existed for women and women’s events were rarely linked to men’s.
Equality reigns in this race, however—the top five male and female riders will receive an equal share of a $15,000 prize purse.