Despite a cool summer in Southern California, the start of the cyclocross season known as a fall sport saw temperatures hitting 99 degrees just in time for the Elite races, and it was a hot start to what looks to be another great cyclocross season in SoCal. Even with the record temperatures for the first week of racing, SoCal didn’t have everyone sitting indoors as more than 350 riders who showed up for some heated cyclocross competition.
The 2010-11 SoCalCross Prestige Series continues to grow with over 20 races from San Diego to San Luis Obispo this season and so many exciting stories to unfold.
The series has grown 300% over the past four seasons, and the women are the largest growing categories. In years past most of the women’s events meshed with men’s fields, which either created some conflicts with riders finishing their races early or some aggressive passes from men. However, with some changes and restructuring of race categories this summer, the Series has created a structure that allows the women’s fields to race together without the company of men. The response was positive from the women on course and showed some of the best women’s racing in Southern California as the ladies had the stage to put on their own show.
It was a close battle at the beginning of the race as pro mountain biker Allison Mann (Rock N’ Road Cyclery) introduced herself to the women in her first year of cyclocross by taking the hole-shot. But, coming out of the barriers the field was lined up and Amanda Shaper of the newly formed SDG Factory team took the lead until an unfortunate crash put her out of the running. From this point it was Mann all the way. Dorothy Wong (TEAM SoCalCross) was in hot pursuit of Mann with the rest of the field, but once Mann saw her time to breakaway, she attacked and continued to open her lead, lap after lap, for her first ’cross race and victory of the season. Ultimately, the chase group separated and the battle for second was exciting as Wong and Shaper went back and forth chasing Mann. In the end it was Shaper with second, Wong third, Jill Sisamis (Team Duke) fourth, and Rebecca Siegel (TEAM SoCalCross) to round out the top five.
The pace was set by Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized) and Brandon Gritters (Rock N’ Road Cyclery) as the two ripped off from the start to lead out the race. The field stayed together tightly through the first two laps and then began to break apart. Once the lead group separated it was Taberlay with Gary Douville (Platinum), Dana Weber (Trek), Gritters, Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/B&L), and John Behrens (Bailey Bikes). But even this pack didn’t last long. After a few more laps with the heat and crashes, riders were slowing on course. Taberlay attacked and took a lead that separated him from the group, and he kept the gas on all the way until the end. The chase group duked it out for second place. By the end it was Taberlay to take the win, Weber in second, Gritters who fought his way back after some crashes and bike troubles for third and Douville in fourth. Prenzlow was just off the back of the group and finished fifth with small gaps between him and the podium spots. It was Behrens alone in sixth, Fritz Bottger seventh and teammate Eric Christenson (SDG Factory) eighth.
The hot start to the beginning of the ’cross season was fantastic and required a lot of sacrifice and help that Dorothy Wong was very thankful to receive from her club team and many other local riders. The racing was exciting and obviously dominated by the strongest mountain bikers in Southern California.
Stay tuned for next weekend as SoCalCross brings back UCI racing to Southern California with UCI Kross-toberfest Weekend presented by Focus Bicycles. The two-day festival will bring a wide variety of bicycle events including a velo swap meet, Route 66 Custom Bike Show, a mountain bike ride for kids hosted by Pasadena MTB Club and IMBA, a women’s road ride around Puddingstone Reservoir hosted by the Women’s Cycling Challenge and themed “Meet Up Ride Route 66″ runs from Santa Monica and San Dimas. There’s also a Saturday Night Krosstober-fest Haus party hosted by Mafia Racing, Attack Cycles and Ritte Racing, and of course two full days of cyclocross racing action from Junior to World Class riders such as Danish National Champion Joachim Parbo (Leopard Cycles), Chris Jones and Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus), Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycles), Adam McGrath (Feedback Sports/Van Dessel), Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mtn. Cycles), Nor Cal’s Barbara Howe (Ibis Cycles) and Sarah Kerlin (HRS/Rock Lobster), So Cal’s Kendall and Alexis Ryan (Team SoCalCross), and Allison Mann (Rock N Road). Temperatures are predicted to cool off but the racing will continue to heat up!
Elite Men / Women’s results below. For more information about the Series and the UCI Kross-toberfest Weekend go to: www.socalcross.org