The year 2019 has been an eventful one for Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing), to say the least.
Ortenblad started the year recovering from a collarbone injury suffered last December and made his way back to compete in XCO mountain bike races in the spring. Another collarbone break set him back, but he still went on to win the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder in June.
All of that was a prelude to cyclocross season, where Ortenblad has been working hard to regain the form he showed during his monster 2017/18 campaign. We checked in with the man they call McTubbbin during the World Cup Waterloo weekend and again last weekend after he finished on the podium both days at the Really Rad Festival of Cyclocross.
Although his circumstances have been a bit chaotic, Ortenblad's Santa Cruz Stigmata has been a regular with his privateer program. We took a closer look at Ortenblad's Stigmata earlier this season at the Waterloo World Cup.
Tobin Ortenblad's Santa Cruz Stigmata Cyclocross Bike
The Santa Cruz Stigmata has become synonymous with Ortenblad during the past several cyclocross seasons. We profiled his bike during the Pan-Ams weekend in 2017 in Louisville and then looked at the bike set up for gravel at the 2018 Lost and Found Gravel Grinder.
As he defended his 2018 Lost and Found title in early June, Ortenblad also showed off the new version of his Santa Cruz Stigmata that has room for the larger tires his new tire sponsor Challenge provided.
Fast forward to World Cup Waterloo, and Ortenblad rebuilt his bike for cyclocross racing with parts from Zipp, SRAM’s new Force AXS drivetrain and a Chris King headset.
As with his Lost and Found build, Ortenblad is riding the re-designed Santa Cruz Stigmata frameset. While not specifically a cyclocross bike, he has been racing on the platform since picking up with Santa Cruz for the 2016 season.
For 2019, the bike saw a design overhaul, becoming slacker and lower for stability and gaining tire capacity.
"It has massive tire clearance and at first glance does appear like more of a gravel bike, but make no mistake, it still wants to tear up a race course as well," Ortenblad said about the newest Stigmata design. "The BB is 1mm lower and the wheelbase is about 5mm longer, which should make it corner a pinch slower when racing, but more than anything I’ve noticed a bit more stability out of the bike. It hasn’t been a hindrance at all on the race track and has made it even more capable out in the gravel."
While Ortenblad used all the clearance at Lost and Found, his Challenge tires are limited in the fall to UCI-friendly sizes. In the mud of Waterloo, he ran Limus mud treads in a 33mm tubular at 21 psi glued to Zipp 303 Firecrest carbon tubulars.
Ortenblad is one of those riders who likes to run files as much as possible, and this past weekend at the Verge Northampton International, he ran Challenge Dunes at 27 psi front and rear. "This season had been a bit wetter than years past, so I’ve been on chunkier treads than usual," Ortenblad explained. "Lots of Grifo and Limus thus far, but I always try to sneak the files on front and rear when I can as they’re so dang fast."
Residing in Santa Cruz, Ortenblad has been known to jump in a local race or two every now and again to stay honed when not traveling. Does he take advantage of the opportunity to run wider tires when the UCI officials and their calipers are not waiting at the start grid? You bet he does.
"I have raced bigger tires once or twice locally this year. Nothing too crazy, but sometimes a 36mm tire takes the edge off a bumpy local race," he admitted with a laugh.
Zipp also provided components, with Ortenblad opting for a Service Course SL stem and handlebar as well as a Service Course SL carbon seatpost. As he has since 2017, Ortenblad mounted a WTB Silverado saddle with carbon rails.
In June, Ortenblad raced on mechanical SRAM Force 1 components, but he told Cyclocross Magazine that come fall he would be using the new AXS wireless 12-speed drivetrain. In Waterloo, McTubbbin was sporting the new hardware, with a 42t X-Sync 2 chain ring and Force-branded DUB crank.
In the back, a Force AXS derailleur handled gear changes with input from the wireless HRD shift units on the handlebar. Ortenblad ran a 10-33t Force cassette, which we have seen a number of riders running Red eTap AXS drivetrains choose thanks to its mud-clearing ability.
Even though Red eTap AXS is available, Ortenblad opted to stay with his tried-and-true Force when going electric. "I’ve always raced on SRAM Force throughout my career on the 1x groupset," he explained. "Force AXS benefits from all the trickle-down technology from the Red AXS. It’s definitely a workhorse of a groupset."
Starting last season, Ortenblad switched from Crankbrothers pedals to Time ATAC, which he used at Lost and Found and has carried into this season.
Ortenblad's journey back to form continued over the weekend with two wins in two days at the Northampton International. As he said when we chatted with him after Really Rad, the ultimate destination for Ortenblad and his Stigmata will ideally be a top-five finish at Lakewood Nationals a month from now.
For a closer look at Ortenblad's Santa Cruz Stigmata cyclocross bike, see the photo gallery and specs below.