BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA — Sam Ames along with his local sponsors and volunteers always bring great races to the SoCal cross series, presented by Spy Optic, and again they delivered. His mission was to bring a challenging Euro style course for the first of the two Bakersfield weekends the series would see this year. The course definitely delivered, as it was one of the hardest he has ever constructed.
The course was fast, flowing with some technical descents, a long road stretch, and two of the hardest run-ups Hart Park has presented. All which delivered racers little recovery time, if they wanted to stay at the front of the race. It was a great example of what the park is going to bring the last weekend of the cyclocross season, as it will host the NorCal vs. SoCal championship.
It was Christina Probert-Turner (The Team SoCalCross/Turner Bikes) with the holeshot and from there she set out right away showing her determination to win. Amanda Schaper (Ritte Racing) was leading the chase with Dorothy Wong (The Team SoCalCross) directly behind. The women separated themselves on the first lap all riding on their own chasing Turner.
A few laps in and it seemed set that Turner would take the win with Schaper 2nd and Wong 3rd. That was until Schaper crashed on the muddy off-camber sweeping right turn on the backside of the course. Hitting the ground her bars slipped back almost parallel to her frame, making it impossible to ride. Schaper quickly shouldered the bike and started her run for the pits, unfortunately watching the whole field pass her.
Wong moved into second and continued to separate herself from other riders. After a half of a lap run, Schaper went to the pits swapping bikes and chased her way back to third by the last lap. In the end it was Turner with another win, Wong 2nd, Schaper with an impressive 3rd, Susan Thompson (PAA/Remax) 4th, and Hannah Eckvahl (The Team SoCalCross) 5th.
Gareth Feldstein (Ritte Racing), Bakersfield local, shocked the elite racers as he went on a flyer, off the front, from the start and held it for the first three laps of the race. Sam Ames (Action Sports) led the chase with Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Focus) and Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt pb iRT). Just behind it was Siegle’s teammate Ted Willard hard charging to get back on the group who were gaining ground each lap on Feldstein.
By the third lap the chase bridged up to Feldstein and along the way Ames dropped back soloing in between the chase of now Willard and John Parson (Sierra Pacific). Prenzlow and Siegle sat in letting Feldstein continue to work, and then Siegle jumped up front through the road section leading the pack. Prenzlow took his turn next and it went back to Feldstein. With two to go Prenzlow made a mistake catching his bars on the course tape and had to put out a big effort to get back to the group.
With one lap to go Feldstein led the race until the climb before the first run-up where Prenzlow attacked. The group stayed together, but Prenzlow stayed on the gas through the next run-up, eventually opening a 10 second gap back to Feldstein. Siegle had made an error and worked his way back to Feldstein and then again. By the time Prenzlow hit the road he rode in comfortably to take the win just ahead of Feldstein in 2nd, and Siegle 3rd. In 4th it was Ames who held off Parson who was just behind in 5th.
The great course and cool weather made for another great weekend of racing for the SoCal prestige series. Next weekend will bring a double header as the series heads south again to Los Angeles for a weekend at the popular Greek theater. For more information on this race and the upcoming NorCal vs. SoCal championship go to: www.socalcross.org