Santa Rosa Cup Cyclocross ©Tim Westmore

by Tim Westmore

SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA – The Santa Rosa Cup held its final event for 2011 at the Spring Lake Regional Park in the Northern California city of Santa Rosa. The fast course stretched two kilometers over rocky ground and muddy downhill slides amongst long stretches of paved and graded track. The course proved hazardous as attested by the many racers running long distances to reach the neutral tent, forced to do so by flats and mechanical failures.

Fog and low cloud cover finally gave way in the afternoon for the Women’s and Men’s Category A races. The eight-racer field for the competitive women quickly came down to three racers by the end of the first lap. Ellen Sherrill (Bike Station Aptos), Sarah Bamberger (Team Rat Ballz), and Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-No Tubes) formed the lead group. Sherrill gained a small gap over the next two laps but, on her second day of racing, was unable to drop McConneloug and Bamberger.

Santa Rosa Cup Cyclocross ©Tim Westmore

Tension in the race grew as the three stayed together for the latter laps. On the penultimate lap, Bamberger attacked going up the final hill but also was unable to drop either of the other two competitors. Racing up the same hill on the final lap, Bamberger led, taking the three into a final sprint. “I knew that whoever went into [the last hill] first was going to come out first unless they couldn’t sprint at all,” said Bamberger, “I actually have a pretty good sprint for being built like a climber. I had enough of a gap coming into the very last 150m [that] it would take a huge effort for one of them to come around me. Then I thought I couldn’t let down my husband.” Bamberger indeed stood up for her husband, saying adrenalin took over as she fended off Sherrill and McConneloug for the win.

McConneloug was second and Sherrill third. Kristin Drumm (Cycles Fanatics) followed up in fourth with Cathy Crawford (Red Peleton) coming home fifth. For the overall, two-race series, Bamberger took the cup having also won the first race.

Santa Rosa Cup Cyclocross ©Tim Westmore

In the Men’s Category A race, Czech National Jakub Magnusek (Cycles Fanatic), who took a terrific third place against strong competition at the NCNCA District Championships, was notably off the early pace. The U23 racer suffered a first-lap flat and was unable to change his disk wheel-set. Fortunately, Cycles Fanatic owner and teammate Phil Roberts caught up to Magnusek and they exchanged bikes on course. Magnusek then set out to catch the fast, lead group on the unfamiliar ‘cross bike. Amongst the leaders were Krishna Dole (Shiela Moon), Michael Broderick (Team Kenda), and Glenn Fannt (NorCal Bicycle Sport).

Impressive enough, Magnusek did bridge up to the leaders. Still, the pace was fast and, having just closed in, his hold onto the group outwardly appeared tenuous. Speaking through Phil Roberts, his interpreter, Magnusek said, “When I was up there I was going faster than I thought I’d be able to. On the last lap it was really close and I still wasn’t sure [of the win].” On the sprint down the final stretch, Magnusek raised his arm in bold celebration as he took the tremendous win. “The guy next to me wasn’t really punching it all out and then I knew I [had] this.”

Krishna Dole took second place to match his result in the first race; this also secured the overall series cup for Dole. Third in the race was Broderick, Michael Hosey (Marin Bikes) crossed the line in fourth, and Fannt took fifth-place.