WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Athletes returned to River Walk Park in West Sacramento for UCI Category 2 races on Sunday at West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix presented by Kaiser Permanente (WSCXGP). Strong northerly winds with gusts up to 50 mph added extra spice for the riders on the tight 2.7-km course along the beautiful Sacramento River.
One of the largest, internationally-sanctioned cycling events in northern California, WSCXGP is the only cyclocross race in the nation with live music on the course both days.
Runnels Wins Again in West Sac
A group of five pulled away from the 19-rider field early in the first lap of the Elite Women’s Event. Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore./Team S&M CX), who fell out of contention in Saturday’s race due to mechanical, set the early fast pace after getting the holeshot. On her wheel were Sammi Runnels (Squid Squad), Caroline Nolan (Chico, Calif./Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster), Raylyn Nuss (Lake Saint Louis, Mo./Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek) and Amanda Nauman (Laguna Hills, Calif./SDG – Muscle Monster).
“It was very similar to yesterday, just a group of us on the front, riding there for the first two or three laps. And then Sammi came around. You try to hold that wheel for as long as you can but going into these headwinds, even sitting on a wheel. She’ll get a little gap before we hit it and she’s just able to power through them, so strong,” said Honsinger.
Runnels used skills learned this past spring in Missouri to push the pace at the front, dwindling the lead group to three riders after one lap.
“I think being in St Louis for so long, you just get used powering through it,” Runnels said of her skills in riding in the strong wind. “Knowing that if you can ride hard in the wind, it’s hard for other people to go as hard in the wind because I know that the wind for me was hard until I get better at it I guess.”
“It’s nice to have a wheel in front of you to sit on but it’s not always there,” said Honsinger of the windy conditions. “At some point, it was even blowing you into the stakes almost, you had to really be attentive to that.”
The trio continued to ride together, taking turns on the front until Honsinger pounced when Nuss bobbled on a short steep climb.
“I think with three laps to go when I did a lot of pulling in the wind, and I kind of flubbed up on the steep 180 turn and ended up having to get off my bike and hop back down. I don’t know, I had a hard time coming back from that mess up,” Nuss said.
“Raylyn fell in the hill and then I had to put my foot down as well and Clara attacked. When I got back up to her, we were kind of riding, and then I was seeing Raylyn getting close and I was like ‘I should just attack right now.’ So I attacked on the downhill before the sand section up against the water. I just attacked, got a gap and just went from there,” Runnels explained.
With two laps to go, Runnels had a solid gap to Honsinger. Nuss was chasing in third.
Runnels took her back to back victory in a time of 45 minutes and 4 seconds.
Honsinger crossed the line 22 seconds later for second place. Nuss took third place, 32 seconds back
“I’m pretty happy with my weekend, it’s awesome,” said Runnels. “I’m taking two weeks off just to train and then I’m just going for the next two months. Cincy, Pan-Ams and then three weeks to Japan, I’ll do some UCI races there.”
“I was disappointed with yesterday of course. It feels pretty gratifying to get a good result today,” said Honsinger who is heading to US Open of Cyclocross next weekend.
Full results are below.
Kaiser Wins in his Home State
Elite Men’s C2 Race — The Elite Men’s race also started fast with Lance Haidet (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Donnelly Cycling) stringing out the 34-rider field after taking the holeshot. Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized) and Troy Wells (Durango, Colo./Team CLIF Bar) quickly took over the pacemaking, sharing a common goal of shedding as many riders as possible.
“Troy is staying at our place this week. We were conversing over coffee this morning at breakfast. Sort of shut it down before it even gets going, that was kind of our plan. Not that we were doing team tactics, but we knew that if the pace was going to drop, that’s what it would get interesting so we wanted to keep it [the pace] as high as possible,” said Kaiser.
Kaiser, Wells and Haidet pulled away when Saturday’s winner Anthony Clark (Feeding Hills, Mass./Squid Squad) bobbled in the first lap, causing a split in the field. The trio at the front upped the pace while Allen Krughoff (Boulder, Colo./Chocolove – Specialized) was chasing solo.
“I got gapped halfway through the first lap,” Krughoff said. “I was with Anthony at the tail of the front group like yesterday. He never went down but he came to a halt in the sand, and then I went around him in a slow line and then we had a 20-meter gap. Then I was getting going, trying to catch back on, he came flying by me, across the course, kind of bouncing, dropped his chain, had to stop so he was out. Actually, I thought he was going to catch me because he rode so strong yesterday. But then, I just rode all day,” Krughoff explained.
Wells continued to put in attacks in the sand section by the Sacramento River on almost every lap. “I would try to sprint into the sand, get as much speed and just go for it,” he said. “I normally fade at the end of races so I was trying to make it happen in the middle when I still had power. And then Cody came back to me, and we kind of worked together and held the gap. It is what it is and I felt pretty good.”
Wells did manage to open a few bike lengths but Kaiser was able to close it down while Haidet started to fade. Behind Krughoff was still solo in fourth while Clark was mounting a major chase. With two laps to go, Kaiser and Wells were locked in a duel for the win. Wells made the first move which Kaiser matched and countered in the final lap.
“I had my hand forced,” Kaiser said. “He attacked with a lap to go in the first turn, the big sandpit but then sort of drifted away outside like Nascar, I was like ‘you know I have one shot,’ so I attacked and hoped that I didn’t bobble and then I just tried to drill as hard as I could for the first quarter of the lap. Just make it happen, find the flow, don’t bobble and finish up.”
Kaiser held on for the victory in a time of 59 minutes and 23 seconds. “I’m very happy, it’s nice to win at home,” Kaiser said with a big smile, surrounded by his family. “My first ever win last year at Tulsa was awesome and getting the second one at home is super cool. Next race will be Boulder.”
“I’m pretty happy but you know, it was good. Second. Bridesmaid, whatever you want to call in,” said Wells who crossed the line 31 seconds later for second place.
After getting a bike change for a slow leak, Krughoff never gave up on the chase. He caught and passed Haidet on the final lap to take third place.
“I knew somebody was going to fade, or somebody was going to flat or somebody was going to flat, it always happens. So there was Lance. Yesterday his back was bugging him and I’ve had that a lot in the past and I know that the next day you don’t feel perfect. Zach in pits was telling me that Lance was fading, I was like ‘if I have anything left now is the time to use it.’ It worked out,” Krughoff said.
Full results are below.
Women's Results: 2018 West Sac CX Grand Prix Day 2
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Men's Results: 2018 West Sacramento CX Grand Prix Day 2
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