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Sea Otter Classic Mountain Bike Races - 1
Monterey, California, USA, April 16-19, 2009
Race 10 - April 19: Cross Country - Elite men & women
Gould and Sauser overcome heat to win Sea Otter
By Sue George in Monterey, California
The Sea Otter Classic is known for its weather extremes, and this year was no exception. It was so hot and dry that organizers shortened the men's and women's races a few hours prior to the start. Instead of the tradional, two 19-mile laps, the men raced one 19-mile lap and one 10-mile lap while the women finished after just one of the long laps. The change also brought the historically lengthy cross country race more in line with the conventional durations of UCI races.
World Champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized Factory Team) spent most of the day off the front alone on his way to winning the elite men's race. Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Team) occupied much of the day in second place until a flat tire took cost him a half dozen places on the second lap. Sid Taberlay and Max Plaxton rode strongly and steadily throughout the race and finished second and third.
Georgia Gould (Luna Women's Team) also won on her own in the women's race. Behind her Lene Byberg (Specialized) and Gould's teammate Catharine Pendrel attempted to drop each other throughout the second half of the race until Byberg finally pulled a way on a climb not far from the finish. Pendrel crossed the line alone in third.
Sauser makes it look easy
Maybe it's the rainbow jersey factor, but even if not, Specialized's Christoph Sauser made his win look easy as others seemed to suffer more in the heat.
"It was hot at the beginning. I couldn't sweat at first and felt bad, but it's always been a goal to win the Sea Otter Classic," said Sauser. "It's a big race, no matter who is here."
"When I heard the race was shortened, I thought, 'oh it's a pity,' because the distance speaks well for me, but then in the race, when I didn't feel so good, I was happy that it was a bit shorter."
Team Specialized started the attacks early and on the first lap - the long one - Sauser got away.
"There was a steep asphalt climb, and I just went to the front and rode away. It wasn't a real attack," said Sauser. "Afterward was singletrack, and Todd Wells kept my way clear." Wells occupied second place for most of the race.
Behind, Max Plaxton (Sho-Air / Specialized), Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air / Specialized) and Sam Schultz (Gary Fisher / Subaru) chased. Specialized's Burry Stander participated briefly, but then pulled out after the end of the first lap.
"I picked up a bit of a cold from all the travel," said Stander who came from racing at the World Cup in South Africa last weekend. "I felt better yesterday and did ok in the short track (he got second - ed.), but then this morning I could feel the cold was back, and I got out on the track and it was really hot. The heat got into my head and made my headache worse."
"Christoph made a hard break on the first lap, and I decided that if the others on the team were feeling good, I'm not going to kill myself. I hope to take a few days easy and recover for the World Cup next weekend."
Wells looked solid in second, but lost about six places when he flatted on the later part of the second lap. "I tried to hit the flat with the CO2, but that didn't work. Eventually someone dropped another C02 for me and then I was able to fill it up. Susi (Sauser - ed.) was already up the road, and I wouldn't have caught him anyway, but it would have been nice to go one-two."
Schultz was feeling great, but he was stuck in a Sho-Air sandwich in the Sauser chase group racing for second place.
"I was getting so worked over, but that's racing. It was frustrating as I had good legs. At one point, six of the top seven guys were all Specialized. I was just trying to hang. Specialized Factory and Sho-Air guys were working together. They weren't chasing each other down. It was cool to watch the tactics, but it was frustrating to be on the wrong side. I wish JHK had been up with me so we could have thrown out our own tactics back at them."
Schultz finished second last year behind former a former World Champion. "Miguel Martinez showed me how to ride a bike here last year," said the ever-improving Schultz with a smile as he recalled the previous year's race.
Taberlay didn't feel too badly about Schultz's treatment. "Sam worked me over last year so it was payback. It was my turn to sit on this year," he laughed. More seriously, he added, "I got isolated on the first lap when I dropped my chain. Christoph went off the front and I suffered to get back with the chasers. I used up a few too many cookies. Once I did catch up, it became a more tactical race."
Taberlay said he started feeling good during the last half lap and he rode his way into second.
Behind him, teammate Plaxton raced to third. "It was unbelievably hot. I hung off the back on the first lap and then felt better on the second lap, but it was good they shortened the race. We all kind of sat up after Sauser and Wells got away. It was a whole bunch of Specialized guys against a Fisher guy. We worked Sam over and I feel bad for him, but that's the advantage to having numbers."
Jeremy Horgan Kobelski (JHK / Subaru Gary Fisher) rode to fourth place. "I got droppped at the start. The shorter distance made it a faster start - at least in my opinion. I tried to hang on and made it to the first feed zone, then I fell off. I tried to minimize my losses and I started to feel better. I made a good move on the second lap and showed that if you stick with it, you never know what will happen." Kobelski improved his placing on the second, shorter lap and looked strong at the finish.
"I was by myself the whole time and picking guys off on the second lap."
Gould solos to win
Georgia Gould (Luna Women's Team) launched an attack early on the first and only lap of the women's race. Initially teammate Katerina Nash went with her.
"I was first into the first downhill and Katerina was right on my wheel and said, 'We've got a gap," but then I blew a corner and she went by. That was great since she's an awesome downhiller. She let me by on the first singletrack and I was able to get a gap."
Within the next 15 minutes, Nash was caught by the chasers including Catharine Pendrel (Luna Women's Team), Lene Byberg (Specialized), Kelli Emmett (Giant) and Emily Batty (Trek Store) until Pendrel and Lene Byberg (Specialized) escaped the others. The pair battled each other until nearly the finish.
"I was trying to punch it on the climbs to get away from Byberg, but I didn't have what I wanted and Lene did. We traded pulls and she probably did more work than I did. I tried to sit in an feel good until the end." Pendrel was under no obligation to chase her teammate Gould.
Yet, Byberg wasn't giving Pendrel a free ride. "Georgia was in front, so I had to do more pacing. I would have liked to win here, but I couldn't follow Georgia in the beginning and she was really strong today."
"Racing with Pendrel, I had to a choice between waiting for the sprint and maybe taking her or ... I thought it would be good training if I attacked her since I was stronger on the climbs." Byberg did just that on one of the final climbs and rode away to a solo second place.
All the racers appeared to suffer some in the heat. "It was really hot. My hands were hot and the skin on my legs was hot," said winner Gould. "Orginally I thought that I was not that happy about the race being shortened because that's what Sea Otter is about. It's long and it's one of the few races where we get to do the same distance as the pro men. As it turns out, it was good for me. I ended up on the dehydrated side a little. When it's this hot, it's hard to drink enough."
Gould said she knew her chasers were never too far behind but kept looking foward - toward catching more guys (the men started first, 15 minutes in advance of the women - ed.) - rather than looking back.
Byberg seconded Gould's opinion. "At first I was not happy about racing just one lap, but another lap would have killed us. The length ended up being just perfect."
Krista Park crossed the finish line and stopped, got off her bike and curled up on some rather hot pavement. Supporters immediately attended to her and medics later removed her from the course by ambulance, in front of Sauser just as he was crossing the finish a few meters away to win the men's race.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net
Elite men 1 Christoph Sauser (Swi) 2.02.54 2 Sid Taberlay (Aus) 4.07 3 Max Plaxton (Can) Shoair Specialized 4.34 4 Jeremy Horgan-Kob (USA) Subaru Gary Fisher 5.08 5 Sam Schultz (USA) Subaru Gary Fisher 5.36 6 Todd Wells (USA) 7.11 7 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Monavie-Cannondale 8.02 8 Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 9 Carl Decker (USA) Team Giant 11.02 10 Ken Onodera (Jpn) Subaru Gary Fisher 11.53 11 Stefan Widmer (Can) Rocky Mountain Factor 12.26 12 Manuel Prado (USA) Sho Air Specialized 14.09 13 Dana Weber (USA) Trek World Bicycle 14.21 14 Matthew Hadley (Can) Xprezo 14.24 15 Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing 15.40 16 Erik Tonkin (USA) 16.03 17 Aaron Olson (USA) Oakley/Sidi 16.44 18 Dave Wiens (USA) 17.19 19 Chris Sheppard (USA) 20 Brandon Stewart (RSA) 17.46 21 T. Burke Swindlehu (USA) 18.12 22 Tj Woodruff (USA) Adventure 212 Specialized 18.30 23 Colin Cares (USA) Kenda Tomac Hayes 24 Max Knox (RSA) 18.55 25 Drew Edsall (USA) Scott/Wtb 19.06 26 Craig Richey (Can) Blue Competition Cycle 19.12 27 Ryan Woodall (USA) Team Dedicated Athlete 19.23 28 Travis Livermon (USA) Champion System Cannondale 19.27 29 Sean Babcock (USA) 21.07 30 Tad Elliott (USA) Us Nat Mtb Developmen 31 Chris Peariso (USA) Adventure 212 Specialized 21.32 32 Robert Marion (USA) Kenda Kmc Hayes 21.51 33 Thomas Bender (USA) Adventure 212 Specialized 22.07 34 Bryan Alders (USA) Monavie Cannondale 22.23 35 Rob Squire (USA) Us Nat Mtb Developmen 22.31 36 Ben Thompson (USA) Cannondale Factory 22.42 37 Macky Franklin (USA) Transparent Racing 23.38 38 Daniel Sessford (Can) Blue Competition Cycle 23.51 39 Eric Batty (Can) 24.07 40 Scott Frederick (USA) Inland Construction 25.28 41 Charles Jenkins (USA) Cytomax Khs 25.39 42 Spencer Paxson (USA) 43 Ethan Gilmore (USA) Us Nat Mtb Development 25.42 44 Gian Dalle Angelini (USA) Red Line 45 Brian Asfell (USA) 26.00 46 Kalan Beisel (USA) Procycling CTS 26.06 47 Thomas Skinner (Can) Specialized Oak Bay 26.08 48 Flavio De Luna (Mex) Region Aguaas Caliente 26.30 49 Sean Donovan (USA) Cytomax Khs 26.50 50 Jan Koles (USA) Mafia Racing 51 Robert Anderson (USA) Specialized Racing 26.52 52 Kim Tofaute (Ger) 53 Randall Jacobs (USA) Wheelworks 28.53 54 Bart Gillespie (USA) Monavie-Cannondale 29.05 55 Brady Kappius (USA) Cliff Bar 29.19 56 Kevin Smallman (USA) 29.27 57 Simon Happy (Can) Rst Velo Sport 30.04 58 Blake Harlan (USA) Jamis 30.24 59 Jason Moeschler (USA) Wtb 30.25 60 Mike Mooradian (USA) Spin Rr Donnelly 30.49 61 Jason Siegle (USA) Team Bear Valley Bikes 31.06 62 Aaron Elwell (USA) Crrt/T6 31.24 63 Yuki Saito (USA) Topeak-Ergon Racing 31.34 64 James Williams (USA) Cannondale Factory 65 Roger Bartels (USA) Norcal Bike Sport 31.37 66 Chad Stoehr (USA) Blue Competition Cycle 33.17 67 Jason Rahlwes (USA) Family Cycling Center 33.40 68 Ryan Iddings (USA) 34.08 69 Ryan Clark (USA) Cynergy Cycles 34.33 70 Adam Snyder (USA) 3D Racing 71 Charlie Pendry (USA) Inland Construction 34.52 72 Alex Grant (USA) Monavie-Cannondale 35.03 73 Justin Maka (USA) Sdg/Azonic/Tekbolt 36.31 74 Bob Delp (USA) Bicycles Plus 37.05 75 Alex Boone (USA) Subaru Gary Fisher 37.36 76 Matt Wittler (USA) Lost Coast Brewery 37.58 77 Jacob Mcclelland (Can) Unaffiliated 39.22 78 Brent Steinberg (USA) 40.30 79 Wes Dickson (USA) Sycamore Cycles 41.08 80 Jim Hewett (USA) Summit Bicycles 41.45 81 Jason Sager (USA) Jamis 42.11 82 Shannon Boffeli (USA) Revolution Mtb Race 42.26 83 Steve Larsen (USA) Unaffiliated 42.57 84 Ron Castia (USA) Infovista 44.19 85 Christopher Everis (Can) 3 Rox Racing 45.23 86 Amon Pease (USA) Lost Coast Brewery 45.35 87 Kyle Stock (USA) Golden Chain Cyclists 45.56 88 Alex Ryan (USA) Champion System Cannondale 46.48 89 Timothy Carson (USA) 48.42 90 Anastasio Flores J (USA) Anotherbikeshop.Com 49.21 91 Travis Mcmaster (USA) Mafia Racing 49.35 92 Matthew Beaton (USA) Tokyo Joes 50.38 93 Jay Richards (USA) 52.49 94 Minhyug Jung (USA) Gloval 7Th Cross 52.57 95 Garnet Vertican (USA) Giant Odi 53.12 96 Noah Holcomb (USA) Cannondale Factory 55.03 97 Lucas Livermon (USA) Inland Construction 56.22 98 Tom Sharp (USA) Contentworks 56.37 99 Matt Connors (USA) Fisher 29Er Crew 59.31 100 Katriel Statman (USA) Transparent Racing 1.02.31 101 Andrew Rigel (USA) Mafia 1.04.12 102 Seamus Powell (USA) Devo Windham Mt Outfit 1.06.04 HD Zachary Griffin (USA) Finish Line HD Bryan Vanvleet (USA) Khs Bicycles HD Daniel Kindregan (USA) Gt Dirt Coalition HD Matthew Rotroff (USA) Inland Construction HD Carl Hesselein (USA) Whole Athlete DNF Burry Stander (RSA) DNF Benjamin Sonntag (Ger) Monavie-Cannondale DNF Nitish Nag (USA) Nrl Racing Developmen DNF Wiley Mosley (USA) Specialized Riders Club DNF Jason Lowetz (USA) Bearclaw DNF Mitchell Peterson (USA) Monavie/Cannondale DNF Cody Peterson (USA) Dedicated Athlete DNF Josh Kelley (USA) Shoair DNF Sam Jurekovic (USA) Sho Air Specialized DNF John Nobil (USA) Bear Valley Bikes DNF Marty Lazarski (Can) Rocky Mtn Bicycles DNF Stephen Ettinger (USA) Arlberg/Black Diamond DNF Andy Schultz (USA) Kenda Tomac Hayes DNF Peter Glassford (Can) Trek Store Racing DNF Troy Wells (USA) DNF Alfredo Cruz (Mex) Auto Tech Ensenada DNF Ryan Trebon (USA) DNF Nate Byrom (USA) North Star/Wtb DNF John Bennett (USA) Whole Athlete DNF Chris Brown (USA) Norcal Specialized DNF Aaron Bradford (USA) On Site Racing DNF Steve Carwile (USA) Capital Subaru/Dave's DNF Trevor Downing (USA) Fort Lewis College DNF Matt Freeman (USA) DNF Paul Freiwald (USA) Pivot Cycles DNF Robert Herber (USA) Dixon Art DNF Mitchell Hoke (USA) Tokyo Joes DNF Matt Wiebe (USA) Team Co Single Track DNF Adam Parke (USA) Orange Peel Cyclery DNF David Juarez (USA) Monavie-Cannondale DNF Corey Ward (USA) DNF Jacques Vanrensbe (RSA) DNF Menso De Jong (USA) Santa Cruz Bicycles DNS Wiens Dave (USA) DNS Ned Overend (USA) Specialized DNS Greg Carpenter (USA) Devo Giant DNS Eric Nelson (USA) Fox Racing Shox DNS Matt Chaney (USA) Contentworks DNS Adam Morka (Can) Trek Store DNS Miles Neisser (USA) Artscyclery DNS Danny Mcnaughton (USA) Contentworks DNS Seamus Mcgrath (Can) Jamis DNS Brett Luelling (USA) DNS Jason First (USA) DNS Jeff Kerkove (USA) DNS Ross Schnell (USA) Elite women 1 Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team 1.22.45 2 Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized Factory 1.07 3 Catharine Pendrel (Can) The Luna Chix 1.14 4 Kelli Emmett (USA) 3.58 5 Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru Gary Fisher 4.09 6 Pua Sawicki (USA) 4.15 7 Katerina Nash (USA) Luna Pro Team 5.22 8 Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru Gary Fisher 6.17 9 Jenna Rinehart (USA) Specialized 7.02 10 Lorenza Morfin (Mex) 7.37 11 Emily Batty (Can) Trek Store 8.08 12 Amanda Sin (Can) 3 Rox Racing 8.46 13 Catherine Vipond (Can) Norco Factory 9.11 14 Allison Mann (USA) Shoair Specialized 9.15 15 Kathy Sherwin (USA) Kenda Tomac Hayes 10.19 16 Sue Butler (USA) Monavie-Cannondale 10.22 17 Lindsey Bishop (USA) Mafia Racing 10.41 18 Judy Freeman (USA) Tough Girl-Scott 11.37 19 Sandra Walter (Can) 12.41 20 Alice Pennington Velaforma/Zym 13.06 21 Natasha Hernday (USA) Amgen 13.18 22 Melanie Mcquaid (Can) Mcquaid/Sho-Air 23 Amanda Carey (USA) Kenda Tomac Hayes 13.23 24 Mical Dyck (Can) Trektorontostore 13.47 25 Aleksandra Rokita (Pol) Spin Rr Donnelly 14.20 26 Erin Huck (USA) Tokyo Joes 14.36 27 Rebecca Rusch (USA) 15.16 28 Sarah Kaufmann (USA) 15.26 29 Krista Park (USA) Incycle/Magura/Notube 16.29 30 Maureen Kunz (USA) Lost Coast Brewery 17.10 31 Sonya Looney (USA) Topeak Ergon 17.19 32 Heather Holmes (USA) Kenda Tomac Hayes 19.23 33 Jean Ann Mckirdy (Can) Local Ride Racing 19.32 34 Athena Kraus (USA) Ellsworth Bicycles 20.03 35 Anina Aaron (USA) Kenda Kmc Hayes 21.30 36 Shannon Holden (USA) 24.19 37 Caitlyn Tuel (USA) Tough Girl/Scott 25.07 38 Philicia Marion (USA) Kenda Kmc Hayes 25.47 39 Erika Krumpelman (USA) 26.00 40 Emma Worldpeace Lost Coast Brewery 26.25 41 Jamie Stamps (USA) Another Bike Shop 26.41 42 Abigail Strigel (USA) Mafia Racing 30.50 43 Jennifer Hanks (USA) Revolution Peak 31.32 44 Joy Duerksen (USA) Pass Physical Therapy 43.07 45 Danae York 43.14 DNF Zephanie Blasi (USA) Kenda Tomac Hayes DNF Chloe Forsman (USA) Luna Pro Team DNF Sarah Piccolo (USA) Norcal Specialized DNF Wendy Simms (USA) Kona DNS Heather Ranoa (USA) DNS Sara Bresnick-Zocc (USA)