LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — Today at Los Angeles Cyclocross, Tim Johnson (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) was unable to repeat Saturday’s performance of holding off Ben Berden (Ops Ale–Stoemper), who took the win. The podium was rounded out by Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus). In the women’s race, Meredith Miller doubled up for the weekend, followed by Sue Butler. Their podium was filled out by Nicole Duke.
Day two of the Southern California (SoCal) UCI weekend, part of the premier California Gold Crown Events presented by Shimano, presented another fantastic sunny day of events. The elite races had a change of cultural flavor today as the race promoter brought in a Mariachi band to share the local flavor of nearby Olevera Street. The guitar, trumpets, and violins rocked as riders floored it down the starting straight and through many other parts of the crowd filled in-field.
The course with its minor tweaks for day two again made for strategic racing as the long straights and tricky turns brought more exciting action. The start was again the same with a long fast straight, into a challenging loose left and an immediate right. The riders came through the twisting front section, minus a few turns, and opened up again on the back straight. With a few less turns and chances for errors the straights seemed like the area for riders to hit it even harder on day two so the stronger racers could break away. Again, it was a numbers game but only the strong survived in the end.
Sue Butler (River City Bicycles) grabbed the holeshot for the second day, then Julie Krazniak (Rapha-Focus) came around to take control on the first lap. The front of the race broke into four riders quickly as some riders were eager to make up for mishaps on day one. The Second lap Nicole Duke (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and the previous days winner Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized) gained some ground on the others but it was still early.
The group was soon back together and continued to increase their gap on the field. Miller was riding smart and stayed in the group as Duke, Butler, and Krazniak again made their efforts to pull away. Then with two to go Miller attacked and Butler went with her. The two were close together then with one to go Miller gained ground on Butler. She was working hard and soloed in for her second win of the weekend. Butler stayed ahead of Duke for second and Krazniak rolled in a few seconds behind Duke for fourth.
The women chasing behind were working hard all day. In the end it was Devon Gorry (Team Rambuski Law) who rode off the group to roll in for fifth and the final podium position.
Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper) took the holeshot and a big group of 13 or 14 riders that stayed together through lap one but by the end of lap two the front separated into two groups of five. Steve Fischer (Revel Consulting-Rad Racing) was on the front leading Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Berden and others. The second group, much like day one, was Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant-Specialized) driving the pace with Allen Krughoff (Boulder Cycle Sport) and the rest in tow.
The groups held their ground and changed with riders on the front. Fischer eventually dropped back to the second group as Berden, Johnson, Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) and Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain-Shimano) stayed together. With five to Berden started to make his move, it was an epic effort and early in the race. By the start finish stretch he had already opened a small gap on the group. Jones, Johnson, and Sheppard came through but no one wanted to respond. Behind Kaiser kept driving the pace, but the group never got back on the front chasers.
With two to go, Berden had increased his lead. Shepperd was drilling it to get back up while Jones and Johnson stayed close. With one lap to go Johnson and Jones made their moves but never got back to Berden who soloed in for the win. Johnson was able to hold off Jones for second and Shepperd rolled in fourth. Kaiser who was strong all day, put in more late efforts to finish just ahead of his group for the final podium spot and the top U23 position.
It was a great weekend of UCI racing in sunny downtown Los Angeles. A great example of the growth of the sport of cyclocross west and the great things promoter Dorothy Wong is sharing with the national and local ’cross scenes. The series has a lot more to come as it heads to Bakersfield next week, home to the big Northern California vs. Southern California showdown for bragging rights event at the end of January.
Todd Munson offers a quick snapshot of the unique flavor of CXLA: