by Tim Westmore
The cyclocross season is far from over in Northern California, and some of the nation’s best riders converged in Sacramento this past weekend. Czech racer Katerina Nash (Luna) drove down from the snow in Truckee, and Worlds Team USA members Cody Kaiser and Bjorn Fox returned from Eurocross Camp to race the Sacramento Cyclocross Series and tune-up for the World Championships in Saint Wendel, Germany later this month.
With a fast start, Josh Snead (Bay 101/HRS/Rocklobster) took an early lead at Laguna Del Sol in the Sacramento Cyclocross Series and rode away from some of the nation’s best U23 and junior racers to take a dominant victory over a strong Category A field. Featuring in the race were Cody Kaiser (California Giant Berry Farms), Jeremy Ferguson (California Giant Berry Farms), and Bjorn Fox (Cliff Bar Development Team) as well as series leaders Bruno Pitton (Davis Bike Club) and Torey Philipp (Team Specialized Racing).
Snead surprised himself after two weeks away from competition and was able to stay within his limits for a win by 40 seconds. Snead began pulling away from Kaiser and Ferguson after the second lap, in a race described by Cody Kaiser as part “tractor pull.” Indeed, many riders throughout the day commented on the energy-sucking turf. Also present to challenge the racers was a spiral-of-death, created by course director Asa Salas (Mad Cat), with particularly nasty with wet, bumpy, sucking grass.
While Snead escaped for a solo win, Kaiser and teammate Ferguson rode neck-and-neck, and after a race-long tussle between teammates and friends, Kaiser took second place. Torey Philipp took a fifth place finish, two ahead of Bruno Pitton, to become the series leader. Torey takes a five point lead (best six results) into the deciding final race of the series at Folsom Rodeo Grounds on 22 January 2011. Bruno and Torey have finished four races this season within one position of each other, making for a potentially exciting series finale.
Showing up for the women’s Category A race were Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) and Emily Thurston (Missing Link/3rd Rail) to challenge, among others, series regulars Ellen Sherrill (Davis Bike Club Race Team) and Sarah Maile (Ventana MTB). Series leader Joan Gregg (Cycling-Training.com) was notable by her absence but maintains a significant points lead by virtue of her six podium places.
Foreshadowing the men’s Category A race, Katerina Nash took an early lead and stormed ahead for her win. The win was a pleasant surprise for Nash after her three weeks off the bike. Always the friendly competitor, Katerina made efforts to cheer riders she passed despite riding through the tiring turf. The course was short on technical challenges and long on requiring “all power.”
Emily Thurston took second place, with Sarah Maile in third place. Maile said she was very happy with the podium after being away injured since Halloween. In her first year of cyclocross racing, Ellen Sherrill took fourth after fending off an early challenge for position from E. Alia Salim (Shiela Moon/BSC). Sherrill may be one to watch next season.