Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Cole Paton turned in an impressive weekend at Round 5 of the Pro XCT Series, the premier U.S. national series of Olympic-style cross-country racing, held in Missoula, Montana. The 20-year-old native of Washington state made the podium in both the short track and the cross-country races on his XtC Advanced 29 team bike.
“I always love racing here at Missoula,” said Paton, who wore a Giant Rev helmet and Charge XC shoes to rack up the double podium weekend. “The cycling community here offers a great atmosphere that is so fun to race in front of.”
The two-day event kicked off with an XC event, and Paton was at the front of the action from the start. With 700 feet of climbing per lap, the Missoula course favors strong climbers, and U.S. Olympian Howard Grotts, wearing the stars-and-stripes jersey as the current U.S. national champion, attacked early.
“I was able to break away with Howard for the first lap and a half,” Paton said. “I flatted on the descent of the second lap and fell back to seventh. Luckily I was able to make a fast wheel change in the tech zone and the rest of the race I continued to chase back.”
Paton ended up finishing third, 2:21 off Grotts’s winning time. It was his best finish so far this season in the Pro XCT series.
The next day’s short track cross-country featured dramatic weather including heavy rain and hail. “We had just about every weather combination imaginable in the short span of 30 minutes,” Paton said. “It started out sunny, then rained, then dumped hail on us.”
It turned out to be a battle between Paton and Grotts, with Grotts just edging out the younger Paton in a sprint.
“I was able to hang on his wheel and it came down to a neck and neck sprint right at the line,” Paton said. “It was a big ride for me and I’m super excited to be rubbing elbows with a guy like Howard, who I’ve looked up to for many years.”