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Sea Otter Home
2002 Sea Otter
Sea Otter Road

Sea Otter Classic - E1

Monterey, California, USA, April 10 - 12, 2003

Main Page     Results    Next stage

Stage 1 - April 10: Time trial, 5 miles

Green and Redden score Canadian sweep of Sea Otter TT

By Chris Baldwin

Women: Recovering from Redlands

Blatter, Redden & Haywood
Photo: © Bob Wilson
Click for larger image

The first day of the 2003 Sea Otter MTB stage race kicked off Thursday with a men's and women's time trial. 61 women and 110 men began racing in sunny and warm weather on a five mile rolling course with over 700 feet of climbing.

As the women powered up the first climb at 30-second intervals, an early lead was set by Kelli Emmett (Hillenbrand Racing), who cleared the way with a time of 20'34.

"I took it a bit conservatively today," said Emmett. "I just came off a big stage race. You get done with six hard days of racing, you don't fully recover."

Last week Emmett, along with a full third of the female MTB starters at Sea Otter, had been racing the Redlands Classic road race in Southern California, both to build fitness and to acquire some early season racing miles in her legs. For many of the women, Sea Otter marks the migration from road to dirt.

"This is the first big mountain bike race of the year," said Alison Sydor (Trek-VW), another Redlands veteran. "Everybody's just checking where they're at. It's also a chance to practice the time trial, and we don't get to do too many Fat-Boy crits these days."

Defending Sea Otter champion Alison Dunlap (Luna Women's MTB) had been racing at Redlands also, and was philosophical about her 12th place in the MTB TT. "It's a month later in the season," she said. "Everybody's a month fitter, so it's going to be that much harder." While not wholly pleased with 12th, she was forthcoming in explaining her finish.

"I did really poorly," said Dunlap. "I felt terribly on my legs, and its a new bike. New geometry. I felt like a total beginner out there."

One rider who took both the course and her 59th place on the day in complete stride was Cristina Begy (Spot), who rode the course in frilly lace socks on a single-speed mountain bike.

"It made me go a lot faster on the hills," she said, presumably referring to the gear choice and not her frilly footwear. "The flats were a little bit harder, but I'm not that fast anyway," she added. "So I figured 'What the heck.' I might as well go hard on the hills, so I'll be warmed up for tomorrow."

Tomorrow's course, a 50-minute Fat-Boy mountain-bike criterium in downtown Santa Cruz, will favor Sydor and her teammate Susan Haywood, who took 20 seconds from Emmett to come in at 20'10.

"It was really fast," she said of the course. "It was shorter than in years past, so it meant you had to go harder. Perceived exertion was high."

Haywood's time stood until nearly the last woman came across the line. When Chrissy Redden (Subaru/Gary Fisher) was a half second faster than Haywood, only three women remained on the course. Like Haywood, Redden had come to Sea Otter directly from Redlands.

"It was a pretty hard race this season," said Redden. "The women at Redlands were pretty hard. On Sunday I was done."

"This week I've been taking it pretty easy, doing some miles, feeling out the legs. This morning I woke up, cup of coffee, one lap of the course, and off I go."

"I'm pretty psyched, actually. Last week was so hard I expected fatigue to crop up. I expected to feel the fitness a little bit later."

Men: Green back from a sniffle to a bang

The right spot for the rainbow
Photo: © Bob Wilson
Click for larger image

Roland Green (Trek-VW) was the last to start the men's time trial, and there was no mistaking the effect his presence had on the field. Everyone in range stopped what they were doing and watched. Green counted down, clipped in, and climbed away.

Not only is he last year's champion, the reigning MTB cross-country World Champion, but he too had been racing at Redlands. Despite being in a comfortable fourth position on GC, he chose to withdraw from that race in order to be fully rested for Sea Otter.

"Redlands isn't a long race," said Green. "But there's a lot of intensity. Since Malaysia I've had a couple of illnesses, and I can't seem to get 100 percent healthy."

A lingering something, whether a cold, a cough, a sniffle or a wheeze, was significant enough to compel Green to choose rest and recuperation over racing last week. As conservative a decision as that might have been at the time, today's results are proof of its inherent wisdom.

"I was sitting fourth overall in Redlands," he said. "Realistically there was no chance to move up. I couldn't ride away from Saturn on Friday. They were just too strong. They were controlling the race so calmly and professionally. I had no chance."

Sea Otter, with all its pageantry and prestige, took precedence over a road race designated for training. Green finished in 16'48 at the MTB time trial, five seconds ahead of Chris Sheppard (Team Haro-Lee Dungarees) and 20 seconds in front of third. He rode calmly on new equipment and came full-bore across the line.

"It's a nice feeling when you're riding hard and you don't have to put any more effort into braking than just one touch," said Green. "The XTR disc brakes this year are so frickin' powerful. It's a calming feeling when you're riding."

Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower MTB) finished in 11th, 40 seconds behind and not satisfied, though he had been preoccupied with business and not training in the days prior.

"I had some photo shoots and promotional stuff to do the last couple of days," said Frischknecht. "I got here last night at midnight. I think my results were ugly. Bad. But I think everybody thinks that. The time trial is hard. It's 20 minutes, full out."

In the end the time trials were punishing, but as a definitive opener to a full season, this five mile race of truth is nearly perfect. The men and the women know where they stand. They know whom they must watch, who is ready, and who can win.


Images by Bob Wilson/Bob Wilson Photography


1 Christina Redden (Can) Subaru-Gary Fisher                  20.09
2 Susan Haywood (USA) Trek-Volkswagen                         0.01
3 Barbara Blatter (Swi) Specialized                           0.09
4 Shelly Whisenhant (USA) Velo Bella                          0.16
5 Willow Koerber (USA) RLX Polo Sport                         0.17
6 Katerina Hanusova (USA) Luna Women's MTB                    0.19
7 Alison Sydor (Can) Trek-Volkswagen                          0.21
8 Melanie McQuaid (Can) Ford Outfitters                       0.23
9 Mary McConneloug (USA) Seven Cycles                         0.24
10 Kelli Emmett (USA) Hillenbrand Racing                      0.25
1 Roland Green (Can) Trek-Volkswagen                         16.48
2 Chris Sheppard (Can) Team Haro-Lee Dungarees                0.05
3 Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Gears Racing                         0.19
4 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Subaru-Gary Fisher                     0.20
5 Geoff Kabush (Can) Kona Clarks Factory Team                 0.21
6 Seamus McGrath (Can) Team Haro-Lee Dungarees                0.22
7 Julien Absalon (Fra) Motorex Bianchi                        0.23
8 Jose Antonio Hermida (Spa) Motorex Bianchi                  0.25
9 Andreas Hestler (Can) Rocky Mountain/Crystal Decisions      0.30
10 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) RLX Polo Sport                0.37