WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix presented by Kaiser Permanente (WSCXGP) returned to River Walk Park along the beautiful Sacramento River in the downtown core of the region’s largest metropolitan area on Saturday.
WSCXGP, one of the largest, internationally-sanctioned cycling events in northern California, featured UCI Category 2 events for Elite Women and Elite Men.
Last year’s winner Samantha “Sammi” Runnels (Austin, Texas/Squid Squad) took the WSCXGP crown for the women and teammate Anthony Clark (Feeding Hills, Mass./Squid Squad) grabbed the top step of the podium for the men.
A Runnels Repeat
Racing started at River Walk Park in West Sacramento under sunny skies, warm temperatures and gusty winds. The windy conditions added an extra challenge to the tight 2.7-km course with deep grass, pavement, dirt, gravel, and off-camber sections.
“It’s super sandy and fun. The sand is roller-coastery, you really have to pump into it, it’s real weird. I just found the right lines, and I think being here last year definitely helped with that,” she said of the course. Runnels won both WSCXGP races in 2017.
Runnels followed her pre-race strategy by setting a fast tempo early in the race. “I just wanted to start hard because I was worried about Clara [Honsinger] and I had noticed that she doesn’t start as hard so I just need to start as hard as I can and get the gap on her because it seems that the way she races that she’s a diesel,” Runnels explained. “I just went out there and tried to go as hard as I could from the start.”
Runnels had a small gap to a group of chasers after one lap. Behind her, Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore./Team S&M), Amanda Nauman (Laguna Hills, Calif./SDG – Muscle Monster), and Caroline Nolan (Chico, Calif./Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster), who took the holeshot, joined together in a short-lived chase group.
Nolan’s lead was brief. She recalled, “[Runnels] caught me at the end of lap one and she put in a really strong attack. The headwind had gotten to me and so she was able to put in a little time on me after that lap,” Nolan said.
Meanwhile, at the front, Runnels was racing smoothly and kept the gap steady. She explained her strategy afterward. “Keeping it steady towards the middle of the race so I didn’t blow up, and picking the spots where I could recover for just a little bit at a time and just really going hard until I get to that point,” she revealed.
With less than three laps to go, Nolan was able to get away from the other riders. “At that point, it was just dig as deep as I could and stay consistent, and stay on my bike. I always have a mantra in my head when I’m riding that smooth is fast,” she said. “So making sure I’m not crashing especially on that course where it was pretty easy to slip out on some of the grassy off-camber sections. It was a little bit unnerving because I couldn’t really tell on a lot of sections how far back they were, but at the end of the day, [it’s all about] riding your own race and doing whatever you can to stay in front of other people.”
The battle for the third spot on the podium heated up in the final two laps. Honsinger suffered a mechanical, leaving Nauman in third place with Raylyn Nuss (Lake Saint Louis, Mo./Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek) closing in quickly.
“I kind of got jammed at the start and right after the first pit, I got taken in into the tape and wrecked there. So the gap got extended. And then the first time through the sand pit, the same thing happened, where it had gotten really jammed up and the woman in front of me got off and then the gap continued to get larger and larger,” said Nuss. “So for me, the whole race was fighting back to catch on to the top three women. I had little rabbits and I’m out there hammering to try to catch them.”
Nuss caught Nauman going over the sandpit with two laps to go in the six-lap race. The pair continued to battle it out until Nuss got away in the final lap.
Runnels had plenty of time to celebrate her victory. She crossed the finish line with a time of 45 minutes and 10 seconds.
Nolan crossed the line 19 seconds later for second place. Nuss took third place, 33 seconds back.
“I know this course pretty well from last year, I’ve been doing a lot of riding in the sand because where I was living this summer was super sandy, so I think it worked out really well for me. I’m really glad to take the win especially since it’s my team Squid Squad’s race. That makes it extra sweet,” said Runnels.
Nolan was all smiles at the finish. “It’s my best-placed finish so far at a UCI race. I was really happy, I felt really proud of how I rode today and what I’m capable of. It was cool to come back and get second place. Racing in California, being a California native and being that this is sort of my hometown race, I was really happy.”
WSCXGP is the only UCI cyclocross race in the nation with live music on the course both days. Nuss appreciated the tunes. “This course, the atmosphere, it’s sick out here. Super West Coast feel with live bands, music and the course is really fun, it’s flowy, a few little punchy hills, I had a blast, really,” she said.
Clark Makes It a Squid Two-for-Two
The men’s race also started off fast with a group of 5 quickly distancing themselves from the 41-rider field. The front group included Clark, Troy Wells (Durango, Colo./team CLIF Bar), Lance Haidet (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Donnelly Cycling), Allen Krughoff (Boulder, Colo./Chocolove – Specialized), and Cody Kaiser (El Dorado Hills, Calif./LangeTwins / Specialized).
Kaiser, racing in front of his hometown fans and sponsor, took the holeshot.
“I had to go as fast as I could to hold the pace,” said Kaiser with a laugh. “We’ve had a couple of heavy weekends of racing with the World Cups, going all the way back to Labor Day straight so I was a little flat this whole past week, starting on Sunday. I knew that if the pace slowed, that acceleration punch was going to kill me so I was just going to hold it as hard as I could, for as long as I could.”
The five fought for position, taking turns at the front to set the pace, and then trying to draft in the group to get some shelter from the blowing wind.
“Through pit one, after the barriers all the way to the north end of the track, there was a block headwind. You can definitely sense it,” Kaiser said of the wind. “It helped me a couple of laps because I was sort of dangling, and I was actually to roll back in because they would ease up, you could sense the group slowing.”
“This race is really fast [with] a lot of variation in speed. If you’re on the back of the group of five, you’re working a lot harder than if you’re the first guy. But then at the same time, we had a ton of wind today, so you have this balance of saving energy versus having to sprint out of every corner. And it was kind of just a group of five, everybody trying to be in a good spot so there was a lot of switching of positions,” Krughoff explained.
Wells was the first rider to fall off the pace after accelerations from Clark and Krughoff. Haidet was the next one to drop out of the group.
“The fourth lap through I went to the front and halfway through, I think Lance bobbled and my mechanic Chris in the pit yelled ‘dude you have a gap’ so I went,” said Clark. He was joined by Krughoff with Kaiser dangling about 10 seconds behind.
Clark continued, “Then I was like ‘I guess I have to stay on the throttle’, so I stayed going hard. We went through for three to go, and Allen and I probably had 10 seconds and then halfway through that lap, Allen wasn’t pulling through, so I was like, what do I do?”
Clark did what he does best, and went all-out. “I attacked over the barriers and he didn’t respond,” he explained. “I was like, well, everyone is solo so I just have to ride smart, try to ride my race, go hard on the hard sections. That’s what I did and I was able to hold those guys off.”
“Anthony was just punching it, he has a very punchy riding style,” Krughoff explained. “It’s good to be behind him, but at the same time, it’s not, because he sprints so hard out of every corner. If you’re smoother, you don’t have that energy savings if you’re drafting him. So I was just hanging on and working really hard to be there. He just rode away from me at one point.”
With less than two laps to go, Clark had a small gap on Krughoff. Kaiser was still chasing solo in third. Haidet and Wells were battling it out for fourth place.
Clark claimed his first victory of the year in a time of 59 minutes and 23 seconds. Krughoff crossed the line 31 seconds later for second place. Kaiser took third place, 37 seconds back.
Krughoff enjoyed the course, though he could feel the effect of sudden accelerations and the impact of the wind. “I think a lot of people probably see it and they think, oh, it’s in a little park by the river, but it floats up and down this hill, there are technical off-camber corners and as you saw throughout the whole race, it all splintered, there were no groups of 5 or 10 guys, “ he said . “Towards the end, after I fell off of Anthony, I felt like we never stopped pedaling for the second half hour, and at that point, I felt like the course was riding me.”
For Kaiser, the secret to racing well on the course is “to find the flow…if you try to force the speed you’re going to have trouble, for sure.”
Clark certainly went with the flow. “I just don’t make plans, I just ride my bike,” said Clark. “I’m not that kind of guy, I just ride my bike and see what happens. You just never know. Some guy can make a mistake, the wind could be worse, the wind could be less. I really don’t make plans about anything, I don’t want that kind of stress on myself.”
More wind is in the forecast for day two of WSCXGP racing on Sunday.
- Clark and Runnels both raced on IRC Serac tubeless tires. This might be the first sweep of both the men’s and women’s races at a UCI event by tubeless riders, and a rare sweep by metal bikes.
- Both the UCI C1 Charm City Cross Day 1 and the UCI C2 WSCXGP Day 1 had 41 Elite Men starters.
Stay tuned for coverage of day two of the West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix.
Reporting by Lyne Lamoureaux of Peloton Sports. Editing and tech notes by Cyclocross Magazine.
2018 West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix Results - Elite Women
|2||7||Caroline Nolan||29||Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster||45:29:00||0:18|
|3||8||Raylyn Nuss||29||Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek||45:43:00||0:32|
|4||4||Amanda Nauman||30||SDG - Muscle Monster||45:49:00||0:38|
|7||3||Clara Honsinger||22||Team S&M CX||46:53:00||1:42|
|8||6||Beth Ann Orton||38||Team S&M CX||47:19:00||2:08|
|9||14||Terra Kier||37||Square 1||47:36:00||2:25|
|10||13||Meghan Newlin||41||Full Cycle Boulder||47:48:00||2:37|
|11||11||Natalie Smith||32||Bicycle Heaven||49:28:00||4:17|
|12||12||Heidi Wood||34||HiFi Sound Cycling Components||49:35:00||4:24|
|13||9||Rebecca Gross||39||Zero D Racing||49:46:00||4:35|
|16||10||Juliann Vander Haegen||17||NWCX Project||52:17:00||7:06|
|17||16||Barb Blakley||41||Velo Club La Grange||52:34:00||7:23|
|18||19||Hayden Gizinski||19||NWCX Project||35:56:00||-|
|19||15||Brooke Lyman||23||Exhale Bikes||36:29:00||-|
|DNS||1||Courtenay Mcfadden||34||American Classic/Zones||-||-|
|DNS||18||Gabriella Sterne||31||Vanderkitten Entourage Racing||-||-|
2018 West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix Results - Elite Men
|1||42||Anthony Clark||32||Squid Squad||59:24:00|
|2||45||Allen Krughoff||35||Chocolove - Specialized||59:55:00||0:31|
|3||41||Cody Kaiser||27||LangeTwins / Specialized||1:00:12||0:48|
|4||43||Lance Haidet||22||Donnelly Cycling||1:00:35||1:11|
|5||44||Troy Wells||35||Team CLIF Bar||1:00:38||1:14|
|7||75||Allan Schroeder||27||High Desert Hustle||1:02:31||3:07|
|8||47||Max Judelson||31||Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster||1:03:24||4:00|
|9||46||Kevin Bradford-Parish||37||Gillespie Eye Care/SETcoaching/Specialized||1:03:36||4:12|
|10||66||Josh Direen||27||Groove Subaru-Excel Sports||1:03:53||4:29|
|11||58||Kyle Johnson||30||Team Yacht Club||1:04:07||4:43|
|13||60||Robert Cummings||25||Mettle Cycling||1:04:12||4:48|
|14||72||Brendan Lehman||29||Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster||1:04:37||5:13|
|15||83||Nathan Barton||22||Top Club Cyclocross Team||1:04:48||5:24|
|16||61||Noah Hayes||18||Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster||1:05:08||5:45|
|17||49||Terol Pursell||31||Amy D Grassroots||1:05:09||5:45|
|18||67||Ryan Rinn||37||vive la tarte cx||1:05:37||6:13|
|19||65||Stephen Hartzel||36||Breadwinner Cycles||1:05:57||6:33|
|20||50||Sean Estes||41||Cycle Sport - Specialized||1:06:04||6:40|
|21||82||Josh Kelley||36||Breadwinner Cycles||1:06:23||6:59|
|23||64||Ryan Grenier||41||The fast foward||51:44:00||-|
|24||70||David Sheek||43||SDG-Muscle Monster||51:48:00||-|
|25||51||Calder Wood||19||Top Club Cyclocross||51:57:00||-|
|26||55||Alex Work||44||Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster||51:57:00||-|
|27||79||Derek Yarra||32||MASH SF||52:20:00||-|
|28||69||Andrew Loaiza||31||Cyclepath PDX||45:06:00||-|
|29||63||Anastasio Flores||48||Spokesman CX||45:26:00||-|
|30||84||Aj Snovel||27||Team Mike’s Bikes||45:29:00||-|
|31||76||Rhys Louis||26||Roca Roja||45:57:00||-|
|32||52||Kobi Gyetvan||21||CX Nation||38:59:00||-|
|33||59||Kell Mckenzie||37||King Kog||39:21:00||-|
|34||57||Bryan Torian||42||Olympia Orthopaedic Associates||39:24:00||-|
|35||68||John Behrens||48||Knobbe Martens IP Law||39:35:00||-|
|36||80||William Youngman||49||Kinetic Cyclocross||39:37:00||-|
|37||74||Brent Franze||20||giant co factory ?Buena Park Bikes||32:28:00||-|
|38||77||Mark Severy||30||Adventure's Edge||32:45:00||-|
|39||73||Dean Poshard||46||Voler/Easton/HRS/Rock Lobster||33:49:00||-|
|DNF||56||Justin Thomas||44||TCI Wealth Advisors||21:57||-|
|DNF||62||Sawyer Bosch||29||High Desert Hustle||22:46||-|