Mountain Biking: Iron Johnny

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, June 1994

Mountain Biking: Iron Johnny
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard and Eric Hagerman)

The buzz at March's Cactus Cup wasn't so much about former world champion John Tomac's win as the way he looked doing it. He was buffed and honed, thanks to a rigorous off-season weight-training program. In fact, Tomac, 26, raced like his powerful old self, not the one who has floundered badly of late on the World Cup circuit. In the final-day, 27-mile cross-country race, Tomac and 1993 champ Bruce Spicer dueled through the first two laps. But on the third and final lap, Tomac poured it on, and an exhausted Spicer crashed spectacularly in the sand. Tomac finished the race in 1:41:53, almost 40 seconds up on Spicer.

Meanwhile, the sobering news that 1992 downhill world champion Dave Cullinan had undergone emergency open-heart surgery spread quickly among his fans and rivals at the Cactus Cup, where he had been expected to compete. The day before the race, Cullinan complained of chest pain. A battery of tests carried out the following day at a hospital in Scottsdale revealed a severe heart abnormality, and a six-hour operation was performed to replace the aortic valve. The 24-year-old Cullinan will miss the rest of this season, and it's unclear whether he'll be able to resume his bike-racing career.

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