If you were following the Oregon cyclocross scene this year, you would have heard the name of the Team S&M rider Sean Babcock mentioned frequently alongside the likes of Ryan Trebon, Erik Tonkin and Molly Cameron. While most of the chatter leading up to the Men’s Elite Nationals would be about some sort of Cannondale mafia domination, the return of Jonathon Page to the domestic cycling scene and questions about whether Ryan Trebon could use the hometown crowd to repeat as US champion, there were some under-the-radar riders worthy of both some eyebrow raises and remembering for 2010.
Sean Babcock has already made his mark on the Oregon scene, winning the overall 2009 Cross Crusade title in a neck-and-neck battle with Cameron. Neither had ever won the series; Babcock had come close in 2008, finishing second. Despite the race having no UCI points, a lot of local and regional pride was on the line. Babcock took the win in the final race at Barton Park and won the Crusades overall by seven points.
With only a few years of bike racing experience, Babcock has quietly moved to the top of the Oregon racing scene. Under the mentorship of Kona’s Erik Tonkin, Babcock channeled his skill as a former midfielder for the University of Portland men’s soccer team into the bike. While Babcock’s athleticism and quick adaptation to cyclocross might spark words like “phenom,” Babcock has decided any rise to the elite level will be methodical and steady. “Before focusing solely on national-level events,” Babcock said, “it’s important to really get a handle on local, regional events.” He’s dabbled in a few national events, taking 17th in his first attempt at Elite Nationals in 2007, and has come close to breaking the top ten at a couple of UCI-races, finishing 13th and 15th at the Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup races in 2008, and 13th at the Rad Racing GP in 2009.
Babcock capped off his season by taking 23rd at Elite Nationals. Look deeper at those results and see the names that surrounded his finish: 35+ champ Jonathan Baker, former Masters national champ Brandon Dwight, Will Dugan, Adam Myerson, 40+ national champ Peter Webber, Brady Kappius, Adam McGrath. Though a podium position at Nationals might still be a couple years away for Babcock, his strong season should provide a springboard for larger ambitions in 2010. Not many non-pros can ride and hang with the likes of Trebon and Wicks at the local Oregon races, or with national talent like the guys who surrounded him at Nationals, so make sure to write down the name “Sean Babcock.”
See also Cyclocross Diaries #7: Barton Park.Get your free digital issue of Cyclocross Magazine here.