by Tim Westmore

Northern California had two series finales on tap for this weekend, with the first being Saturday’s Sacramento Cyclocross Series finale at Dan Russell Rodeo Grounds in Folsom, with the Surf City finale in Watsonville slated for Sunday.

Sarah Maile continues her successful return from injury. © Tim Westmore

Sarah Maile continues her successful return from injury. © Tim Westmore

Even though it’s January, some cyclocross racers are just finding their form. Sarah Maile (Ventana MTB) took the Women’s Category A win in her second race back following a severe hand injury last October. Maile said the course “was a bit rougher on my hand,” but after the lead group split apart, she said she tried hard to “power away on the grass.” Maile will take the next six weeks off until mountain bike season and allow her hand to continue its slow recovery. 

Ellen Sherrill (Davis Bike Club Race Team) finished the race well off the pace in second, after her strategy to stay with Maile “backfired” on the quick course. Sherrill said she preferred the “more technically friendly” back portion of the course instead of the flat, grassy, power-sapping front section.  The Davis rider said she is looking to improve the physical and mental aspect of her cyclocross for next season.

Josh Snead in control in the lead. © Tim Westmore

Josh Snead in control in the lead. © Tim Westmore

In the Category A Men’s race, Josh Snead (Bay 101/HRS/Rocklobster) had a flat tire on the first-lap while sitting in second place. “I rode [the] flat tire as hard as I could,” said Snead and, after exchanging bikes, found himself 20 seconds behind then-leader, Jeremy Ferguson (California Giant Berry Farms).

Ferguson said, “I got off to a good start…had a big lead and was taking it comfortably.” Snead, seeing Ferguson not riding all-out, quickly caught and passed the leader before stretching out his own lead. Snead maintained a pace to avoid any further falls and comfortably scored a consecutive win in the series, and his third victory in a row after winning last weekend’s Socal versus Norcal Championship race and the Sacramento Series race at Laguna Del Sol.

For the overall series, Men’s Category A, second place Bruno Pitton (Davis Bike Club) was realistic beforehand about his difficult task to overcome the five point advantage held by Torey Philipp (Team Specialized Racing). To further complicate his challenge, Pitton suffered a flat tire on some rocks early in the race, ending a possible exciting battle between the two series leaders. Philipp was disappointed to see his closest series competitor suffer the mechanical failure but continued on to a fifth-place podium finish and the overall series win.

Philip celebrated the series win as an early gift for his upcoming 18th birthday. Despite missing the top steps of the podium throughout the season, Pitton and Philipp raced consistently throughout, battled each other during races, and took half of their season’s finishes within one position of each other.

For the overall Women’s Category A, an absent Joan Greg (Cycling-Training.com) had secured enough series points in the first six events of the season to secure the overall win. Congratulations to Greg, Philipp, and all of the Sacramento Cyclocross Series category winners for the 2010-11 season.

The Sacramento Cyclocross Series was organized for the first time this year by Brian Joder, of BicyclingEvents.com, who reported about a 25% increase in attendance for the year. “I think we did pretty well” said Joder, “there’s always things you think you could do better in hindsight and we learned a lot from this year so we’re looking forward to next year and doing it even better.” Joder further commented on preparing cyclocross events in the cold and rain: “its not much fun but it’s still fun.” After a terrific season and series, Sacramento is positioned well for some amazing cyclocross racing next season.

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