by Morgan Moore
The 10th Season of the Bay Area Super Prestige cyclocross series, now sponsored by Clif Bar, had a hot and dry start on Sunday at Candlestick Park, a venue near San Francisco famous for its 49er NFL football stadium.
It was clear that race organizer Tom Simpson and his dedicated crew had worked hard to tame the tall grass and famously bumpy course, creating a 1.6 mile loop that tested rider’s cornering skills, curb-hopping ability, and tire pressure mastery. The bumps still remained the course’s main feature, and left a Candlestick course that was simply described by many of the Elite racers as “tough.” The only missing element to the day was the return of the highly-anticipated (and dreaded by some) flyover, due to the short notice absence of a few key staff members.
With temperatures climbing quickly into the low 90’s by the afternoon, the Elite men’s and women’s fields were really suffering by the end of their respective events.
Earlier in the day, sold-out C fields and Master B fields took to the course, with packs of up to 80 racers getting quickly stretched out across the course, churning up the dry dirt and turning it into fine silt, creating long sections that rode like sand pits. Over 70 singlespeeders had their own race, separated into A and B categories, with Patrick Kitto (Sterling Coaching) taking a narrow victory over Ryan Johnson (Mike’s Bikes) and Cesar Chavez (BuyCell.com / Ibis).
Northern California is a hotbed for masters cyclocross talent, and this fact was made obvious by the three Masters World Champion jerseys seen out on the course, with Don Myrah, Karen Brems, and Ron Riley looking splendid in their blue and rainbow-striped jerseys.
In the Elite Men’s race, it was a return of the Jacques-Maynes brothers to the BASP series. The twin brothers, both former cyclocross national champions, took different routes to podium positions, with Andy (California Giant Berry Farms / Specialized) taking an early lead, suffering several bobbles but still holding off a hard-charging Scott Chapin (Bicycle Blue Book/ HRS / Rock Lobster Cyclocross) and brother Ben Jacques-Maynes (Ritte / Bear) after they both moved through the field after back row starts.
Andy Jacques-Maynes noted of his race strategy, “All of my laps were within three or four seconds of each other, and that was my goal.” After a brief scare of seeing his brother and Chapin close in, he refocused. “Then on the last lap, I just opened it up because I didn’t have to save it any more,” he explained.
Earlier in the race, Cal Giant / Specialized teammates Tobin Ortenblad and Cody Kaiser looked to combine with Andy Jacques-Maynes to make it a full team sweep of the podium. Although the surging Chapin and Ben Jacques-Maynes would pass them, they would hold on to take fourth and fifth, respectively.
In the Elite Women’s race,the small Elite field was quickly shattered field by a dual at the front, led by a determined Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Blue Book/ HRS / Rock Lobster Cyclocross) who came with a determination to execute on a first-lap strategy.
Sherrill had her heart set on hitting the rideable run-up at the front, with the hopes of clearing it while others were left to scramble up the hill, or worst case, bobble and hold up her competitors. The race went to plan, as Sherrill noted that on the long concrete approach to the run-up she had a gap and recalled thinking, “OK, she can’t make up the gap in this short amount of time and hopefully I ride the hill better than her.” She cleared the hill first. “Then the next time I looked back, there was a definitive gap and then I just made it bigger and bigger,” she explained.
Kathleen Hannon (Fresh Air / Hunter Cycles) finished third at 2:51 back to round out the podium.
Stay tuned for an expanded report and more photos.
1) Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Blue Book/ HRS / Rock Lobster Cyclocross)
2) Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law) 0:55
3) Kathleen Hannon (Fresh Air / Hunter Cycles) 2:51
1) Andy Jacques-Maynes (Cal Giant Strawberries / Specialized)
2) Ben Jacques-Maynes (Ritte / Bear ) 0:37
3) Scott Chapin (Bicycle Blue Book / HRS / Rock Lobster Cyclocross) 0:44
Bay Ares Super Prestige 2012 Race #1 – Candlestick Park Photo Gallery: