Ben Berden took the lead and the win at the Sea Otter Classic cyclocross race. © Cyclocross Magazine

Ben Berden took the lead and the win at the Sea Otter Classic cyclocross race. © Cyclocross Magazine

Raleigh will be happy tonight, since their two racers took wins in both the Elite men’s and Elite women’s races. The evening races, held at the tail end of the festivities, still kept crowds lively even as the sun went down, and the racers put on a show, particularly at the barriers near the beer garden, where some spectacular crashes took race favorites out of contention.

In the women’s race, three riders started strong and stayed strong throughout the 35 minute race: Caroline Mani (Raleigh Clement), Nicole Duke (Alchemy) and Mical Dyck (NoTubes). The three riders left the other contenders in the dust as they wound around the course, trading places on the front. Nicole Duke was feeling great while racing, and told us she felt like she was “only putting out about 40%.” However, a crash at the barriers and a hit to the ribs dropped her from the lead group, and she struggled to make contact again.

Mani leading Dyck and Duke at the 2013 Sea Otter Cyclocross race. © Cyclocross Magazine

Mani leading Dyck and Duke at the 2013 Sea Otter Cyclocross race. © Cyclocross Magazine

In the final lap, Mani attacked in the gravel section while Dyck bobbled, and while Duke tried to catch back on, she was unable to make it back to the front. Mani handily took the win, despite her earlier protestations that she wasn’t feeling very good and definitely not up for racing again after getting sick during the cross country race earlier in the day.

In the men’s race, National Champion Jonathan Page took the holeshot, but a first lap bobble in the barriers had him holding his hip and wincing, steadily falling back in the pack. Meanwhile, a lead group of Justin Lindine (Redline), Ben Berden (Raleigh Clement), Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar) was formed. The four quickly established a large gap on chasers, including Spencer Paxson (racing on his Kona road bike with ’cross clinchers) and Robert Marion.

Lindine had a crash on the gravel and a flat tire that put him out of the chase group, just seconds behind but never able to make contact. Meanwhile, Berden, racing on his new Raleigh, planned his strategy. He knew that the sandpit was his friend, and he wasn’t letting the other racers know, until the last lap when he let loose in the sandtrap, quickly gapping the two racers and soloing in for the win, while Trebon and Wells sprinted for second and third. Wells just nipped Trebon at the line, and Lindine sailed in comfortably in fourth, while Marion took fifth and Paxson took sixth.

And check out our Sea Otter page for much, much more from tech to race reports!