by Robert Grunau
The second stop in MFG Cyclocross saw classic Northwest conditions, brought on by a storm which parked itself over the whole region bringing two days and nights of rain creating several sections of thick mud throughout the course. Both the men’s and women’s races (and all other races) were run during the steady light rain most associate with the Seattle area.
The Women’s race went off with a bang with Andi Zolton (JL Velo Ambassadors) and Natalie Koncz (Zuster Cycling) getting away early. The two women worked well together leaving Kristen Kelsey (Cycle U – Popcap) to set a lone chase, with a small following group somewhere behind her.
Zolton and Koncz worked well together at increasing their lead, with each rider taking turns at the front throughout the course, often changing leads as they powered through the long finish straight. It wasn’t until the last lap through the course’s two soupy section just before the barriers that Zolton created a gap between her and Koncz, a gap she carried to the line. Koncz held her gap over Kelsey who easily took the remaining podium spot.
The men’s race stuck together through the first portion of the course, but Russell Stevenson (Voler CX) and Steve Fisher (Raleigh – HIFI) emerged from first half of the 3 km long course with a large gap. The two men battled back and forth for the first half of the race till Stevenson, who seemed to be having problems with his drivetrain, opted for a bike swap.. Fisher and Stevenson hit the pit area neck and neck, but Fisher took advantage of Stevenson’s problems and attacked as he swapped rigs.
Fisher used the next thirty minutes to increase his lead, weaving through the traffic of the master’s 1 /2 field. Stevenson still seemed to be suffering from shifting problems, probably owing to the mud mixed with sand picked up each lap through the sand along Lake Sammamish. In the end, Steve Fisher won with a margin similar to the one Stevenson had three weeks ago when he was on the top step. Russell Stevenson came across next by a comfortable margin, while Toby Swanson of Ravenna Capital Management rounded off the podium.
Next week the MFG Cyclocross series heads north to Bellingham for a weekend of racing in conjunction with the Cascade Cross Series.