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Sea Otter Classic - NE
USA, April 6-9, 2006
Race 6 - Sunday, April 9: MTB stage race #4, Cross Country
Specialized riders make a splash in hometown race
By Steve Medcroft
With company headquarters only fifty miles away in Morgan Hill, California, Specialized spared no expense in spreading the word about itself, its history and its riders at what could be considered their home race; the Monterey-based Sea Otter Classic. Celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the world's first mass-produced mountain bike, Specialized had a museum of Stumpjumper models at Sea Otter, one-off pink-framed S-Works Epics (the original team-issue Stumpjumper was painted pink) for their riders, logo banners all around the venue and hosted VIP bike rides throughout the weekend.
So it was fitting that Specialized's athletes should reward the company with strong performances in Sunday's epic UCI E1-rated cross-country race. At world-cup marathon distance (38 miles, 61 kilometers), Specialized factory teammates Liam Killeen and Alban Lakata worked together to go one-two on the day. Although Sabine Spitz finished more than four minutes behind Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), her second place was an impressive third Specialized factory team podium spot of the race.
Finally, the rain we'd been promised
A murky sky finally broke over the racecourse Sunday, just a half hour before the start of the pro race. Only a light rain, the conditions didn't seem to upset the racers too much. "The course was still draining pretty good," Killen said at the finish line. "The patches that were already muddy were a little deeper but it was all rideable."
Dahle-Flesjaa seemed a little more disturbed by the conditions. "It got worse and worse, that's for sure," she said. "You had to be really careful with shifting. And it was starting to get slippery on your hands."
The two races, held on the same course fifteen minutes apart, took on different storylines once the groups worked their way off the opening two-mile Laguna Seca raceway track and onto the seventeen miles of singletrack and fire roads that made up the bulk of the course. The men split into groups; Killeen, Jongewaard and Lakata up front, eight or nine riders (including Bart Brentjens, Todd Wells, Jean-Christoph Peraud, and Jeremiah Bishop), chasing together.
"Chris (Jongewaard) took off pretty hard - like he usually does - so I knew he would be a good guy to follow," Killeen said. "And Alban was riding really strong and helped me out loads." That is, he helped Kileen by sticking his body in the wind to protect the young Englishman. "He's quite a big guy and there were a few windy sections. He really saved my legs for the last lap."
In that last lap, Lakata was the first rider to fall off Killeen's wheel. "I lost a (contact) lens," he said at the finish. "It stuck inside my eyewear. I stopped and put it back on and lost maybe thirty seconds."
Jongewaard cracked and Killeen then soloed comfortably the rest of the way to the finish. "Yeah. It was good. I never really felt too much in trouble."
Dahle-Flesjaa splintered the women's race; opting to lead from the gun and leaving a string of solo chasers behind her. But she wasn't alone for long - she began catching the semi-pro riders that had been sent out ten minutes before the women. "It was nice to not have to ride by myself all the time," she said. "I always had someone to try and catch." And what did those young think of the world championship jersey riding past them? "Most people were very nice," Dahle-Flesjaa said. "I believe that there are always some guys that hate to be passed by a woman though."
"Gunn-Rita and I were together for a half an hour," said Spitz about how the Norweigan developed her dominant lead. "There was a part of the course where you have [a series of] climbs; a long climb in total but with up and down singletrack with really steep parts in it." Spitz said she could do nothing as Dahle-Flesjaa built gaps over the steepest terrain and only saw the Olympic gold medalist one more time in the race. "At one section on the road [riding around the Laguna Seca raceway between the first and second laps], I was twenty to thirty seconds behind. When she had a look back and she saw me, she pushed herself once more."
Frenchman Jean-Christoph Peraud finished third in the men's race and locked up the Sea Otter omnium prize. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW) topped the American men's efforts with fourth, followed by former world and Olympic champion Bart Brentjens (Team Giant).
Canadian Kiara Bisaro (Team R.A.C.E.) managed to hold off her compatriot Wendy Simms (Velo Bella/Kona) for third in the women's race. Team Orbea's Pia Sundstedt grabbed the final podium spot. In case it needs to be said - Dahle-Flesjaa won the Sea Otter women's MTB omnium.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rob O'Dea/www.baldzebra.com
Men 1 Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized Factory Racing 2.30.28 2 Alban Lakata (Aut) Specialized Factory Racing 2.15 3 Jean Christoph Peraud (Fra) ORBEA 2.35 4 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) TREK/VW 2.36 5 Bart Brentjens (Ned) Giant-Racing-Team 2.38 6 Christophe Sauser (Swi) Specialized Factory Racing 7 Todd Wells (USA) GT Bicycles 2.39 8 Jose Antonio Hermida (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team 9 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis 3.13 10 Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mountain/ Business Objects 11 Michael Weiss (USA) SRM Simplon Team 3.27 12 Chris Jongewaard (Aus) Australian National Team 6.43 13 Karl Platt (Ger) Rocky Mountain Business Objects 7.55 14 Matt Martindill (Can) NA 7.56 15 Sam Schultz (USA) U23 National Team 8.04 16 Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona Les Gets Factory Team 9.15 17 Mat Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis 9.58 18 Carl Decker (USA) Broadmark Capital 10.40 19 Troy Misseghers (Can) Mountain Bike City 10.47 20 Burry Stander (RSA) GT Bicycles 10.58 21 Nick Martin (USA) Unattached 11.20 22 Michael Broderick (USA) Seven Cycles/Kenda 11.33 23 Ken Onodera (Jpn) Subaru-Gary Fisher 12.09 24 Jason Sager (USA) Hotel San Jose/Cannondale 13.30 25 Roddi Lega (Can) Norco Factory Team/United Cycle 13.40 26 Tristan Schouten (USA) PCW Cycling team 14.56 28 Matt Kelly (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 15.58 29 Simon Richardson (GBr) Subaru-Gary Fisher 30 Antonio Ortiz (Spa) Specialized Spain 16.59 31 Chris Eatough (USA) Unattached 17.13 32 Neal Kindree (Can) Kona Factory 17.53 33 Christian Favata (USA) campmor/hutchinson 17.58 34 Charles Jenkins (USA) cytomax/KHS 18.21 35 Colin Cares (USA) U23 National Team 18.23 36 Tim Olson (USA) Unattached 18.51 37 Geoff Huber (USA) anvil/diamondback 45.29 37 Perry Paolini (USA) Trek-VW West 19.43 38 Walker Ferguson (USA) Scott/Spinner 20.00 39 Eric Ransom (USA) Tamarack Resort/ Intense 20.07 40 Michael Lee (USA) TREK VW JBL 20.51 41 Oyvind Aas (Nor) Team Stifinner/Giant 21.28 42 Jeff Schalk (USA) Trek-VW East 21.50 43 Sam Jurekovic (USA) U23 National Team 21.57 44 Paul Hanson (USA) NA 22.09 45 Bryan Fawley (USA) University of Montana 22.23 46 Kevin Bradford-Parish (USA) Bicycle Butler/Rocky Mountain 22.37 47 Ben Thompson (USA) Santiam Bicycles / Breakaway Consulting 23.06 48 Ricky Federau (Can) TEAM R.A.C.E. COM 23.59 49 Pierre-Yves Facomprez (Fra) A.S Fourchambault 24.43 50 Austin Carroll (USA) Team Devo 24.46 51 Aren Timmel (USA) Soulcraft 25.44 52 Noah Singer (USA) Cannondale Mountain Bike Team 25.51 53 Earl Bradley (USA) Southeast Trek/VW/JBL 26.41 54 Sean Donovan (USA) cytomax/KHS 26.49 55 Craig Richey (Can) Cove Bikes 27.43 56 Clint Muhlfeld (USA) Sportsman Ski Haus-Cannondale 28.03 57 Bruce Muhlfeld (USA) TREK/VW 28.07 58 Evan Plews (USA) Santiam Bicycle 28.26 59 Paolo Montoya (CRc) Santa Ana 28.40 60 Hal Helbock (USA) Unattached 29.51 61 Miles Venzara (USA) H & S Bicycles 30.10 62 Warren Gravely (USA) California Giant 30.53 63 Charlie Pendry (USA) Inland Construction/BTD 31.03 64 Tj Woodruff (USA) Litespeed/PCW 31.24 65 Gordon Yanota (USA) Ellsworth Bicycles 31.49 66 Justin Robinson (USA) Cal Giant /Village Peddler 32.46 67 Patrick Bush (USA) clif bar 36.03 68 Anastasio Flores Jr (USA) Another Bike Shop .com 37.23 69 Dallas Morris (Can) DeadGoat Racing 37.47 70 Arlo Buijten (USA) Titus-Schwalbe 39.35 71 Kris Holden (USA) Wheelsport 39.36 72 Jason Moeschler (USA) NA 41.56 73 Nat Ross (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 43.16 74 Dana Weber (USA) JAX Bicycle Center 46.17 75 Mitchell Peterson (USA) Balance Bar/ Devo 54.45 76 Cody Peterson (USA) 3D Racing/ SRAM/ LFP&Co 56.13 78 Lucas Livermon (USA) Cycling Spoken Here 1.28.59 79 Noah Holcomb (USA) Cannondale Mountain Bike Team 1.43.29 Women 1 Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Multivan Merida Biking Team 2.56.00 2 Sabine Spitz (Ger) Specialized Factory Racing 4.39 3 Kiara Bisaro (Can) Team R.A.C.E. COM 7.49 4 Wendy Simms (Can) Velo Bella - Kona 9.08 5 Pia Sundstedt (Ger) Business Objects/ Rocky Mountain 9.50 6 Jimena Florit (USA) Luna Women's MTB Team 11.00 7 Sue Hayward (USA) Trek VW 11.03 8 Katerina Nash (USA) Luna Women's MTB Team 11.54 9 Mary McConneloug (USA) SEven Cycles/Kenda 12.03 10 Dara Marks Marino (USA) Titus/Kenda 12.34 11 Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mountain/Business Objects 15.20 12 Sabrina Enaux (Fra) Lapierre Factory Team 16.22 13 Georgia Gloud (USA) Luna Women's MTB Team 17.07 14 Willow Koerber (Can) Subaru-Gary Fisher 17.29 15 Catharine Pendrel (Can) Norco 17.42 16 Monique Sawicki (USA) Sho-Air/Team Mata 18.57 17 Melanie McQuaid (USA) ORBEA 21.57 18 Lea Davison (USA) Unattached 22.41 19 Kristin Danielson (USA) Velo Bella - Kona 23.38 20 Kathy Sherwin (USA) Ford Cycling 24.46 21 Jenny Copnall (GBr) Subaru-Gary Fisher 25.29 22 Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (USA) Ford Cycling 26.02 23 Jenna Zander (USA) Cannondale Mtn Bike Team 28.36 24 Nina Baum (USA) Cannondale Mountain Bike Team 28.51 25 Rie Katayama (Jpn) TREK 32.18 26 Kyia Malenkovich (USA) Headmethod.com 37.26 27 Theresa Richardson (USA) Cannondale Mountain Bike Team 38.16 28 Judy Freeman (USA) Cannondale MTB Team 38.17 29 Christy Love (Can) Sugoi/Giant 38.26 30 Carolyn Popovic (USA) mtbchick.com/Cannondale 38.27 31 Noel Weddle (USA) Velo Bella - Kona 40.59 32 Krista Park (USA) Colavita/Addictive Cycles 41.15 33 Stacey Scanlan (USA) Tamarack 41.26 34 Heather Svahn (USA) Reno Wheelmen/The Backcountry 41.51 35 Shannon Holden (USA) Velo Bella - Kona 42.06 36 Megan Monroe (USA) Sports Garage/Yeti 43.02 37 Ann Fitzsimmons (USA) Schwalbe Tires 43.08 38 Chrissy Bono (USA) Bicycle Johns Serious Cycling 43.36 39 Cecile Rode (Fra) Lapierre Factory Team 43.45 40 Jennifer Gersbach (USA) Tokyo Joe's 44.01 41 Cristina Begy (USA) Spot 48.10 42 Josie Beggs (USA) Starbucks 50.02 43 Meggan Flaherty (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling 50.32 44 Caitlyn Tuel (USA) Penn State 51.00 45 Kim Passafiume (USA) Velo Bella-Kona 52.22 46 Christie Pleiss (USA) Team K&N Performance 53.01 47 Mandy Eakins (USA) NA 59.33 48 Linden Kimmerer (USA) Soulcraft 1.00.27 49 Erin Duggan (USA) Velo Bella - Kona 1.02.18 50 Jennifer Tilley (USA) Velo Bella - Kona 1.05.31 51 Mary-Ellen Ash (USA) 3 Rox Racing 1.11.19 52 Rebecca Gross (USA) Armed Forces 1.17.04 53 Christy Roberts (USA) Paragon Ski & Sport 1.24.25