BROKEN ARROW, OKLA.—The winds were definitely sweeping down the plain in Oklahoma for Sunday’s edition of Ruts N’ Guts powered by the City of Broken Arrow. Temperatures topped 75 degrees on this early-December day, and the competition was equally as toasty for the Elite Women and Elite Men in a second day of Category 2 races, part of the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX).
Caroline Mani (Van Dessel/ Atom Composites) of Besancon, France won her fourth ProCX Elite Women’s race of the year on Sunday and Elite Men’s ProCX leader Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label) of Santa Cruz, Calif. went two-for-two for his ninth UCI win of the season.
Mani Bounces Back After Disappointing Saturday
Van Dessel Factory teammates Caroline Mani and Sunny Gilbert were at it again Sunday setting the pace. Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Cycles DNA Cycling) soon pried her way between the two half way into the first lap and sat on Mani for much of the race.
“I was disappointed yesterday. I really wanted to take the win,” said Mani, who finished third in the C1 race at Ruts N’ Guts. “And today I just really wanted it. I was smart, and felt better, more punchy. I think also I was riding the sand better than my competition, so I think that’s where I got a gap. I was able to maintain and get the gap bigger. I’m happy to win my last race in the U.S. It’s a good finish of the U.S. season.”
Mani and McFadden would do battle at the front for much of the race, both trying to grab the win. McFadden had taken second place in Saturday’s contest.
“I kind of feel like always a bridesmaid, never a bride, you know with second place for the weekend,” McFadden said. “Caroline was riding really strong, and she rode the sand pit, the downhill, significantly smoother than I did. She was able to gain seconds every lap and gap me. I just couldn’t close it down. She was definitely riding a little bit stronger too. I was feeling yesterday’s efforts; I was pretty tired. But I know she definitely got seconds in the sand, and was probably pedaling stronger than I was.”
Gilbert would have her hands full with Saturday’s winner Crystal Anthony (Maxxis Shimano Pro Cyclocross), both looking to grab the final spot on the podium.
“I had a great start. I was just feeling it, I was on,” said Gilbert about her form early. She did hold on to grab third place, on position better than Saturday. “I gave it a little extra kick. It was pretty awesome to come into that mud pit first. I felt like a ballerina going over that mud pit. You know, just ride everything smooth. I biffed it in the sand in the second-to-last lap. It was not pro.”
Anthony would finish over a minute behind Mani in fourth. On the final lap Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective) surged to finish fifth, just nipping Amanda Nauman (SDG – Muscle Monster) at the line.
Ortenblad Makes it Four Straight at Ruts N’ Guts
The elite men’s field took to the starting grid with Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label) of Santa Cruz, Calif. as the favorite in the field of 36 riders. Unlike Saturday’s race, Sunday was very tight with the lead pack swelling sometimes to a baker’s dozen.
“It was windy today, so the group stuck together a bit more,” said Ortenblad, who is now four-for-four at Elite Men’s races at Ruts N’ Guts in two years. “There was a tailwind on the start/finish, so it could really come back together every lap. It was a pretty big group for most of the day. It wasn’t super fast. Not all of us were willing to go super hard because of the wind.”
Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co – Groove Subaru) and Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team) were again among the top riders through out the day, but at three laps to go Werner suffered an untimely mechanical on the far side of the course. Ortenblad and Hecht used the mishap to their advantage and dispatched the others.
“Towards the end there, the last lap, Kerry (Werner) had a mechnical. So it was Gage, Michael van den Ham and me. It wasn’t too crazy on the last lap, it was just pretty steady tempo. I knew it was a long drag, power finish, and I knew that Gage would hurt me really bad if I was there with him. Going into the sand I made sure I was ahead of Gage. I knew if I could ride the downhill smooth, I could probably get a gap and hold it to the finish. The plan worked.”
At the beginning of the bell lap, Eric Brunner (Evol Racing) and Michael Van Den Ham (Garneau-Easton Cycling) would join the duo of Hecht and Ortenblad for one more time around. The last time through the double sand pit would be the deciding factor. Ortenblad came out clean and never look back.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Ortenblad said about the double wins in Oklahoma. “Usually if I can win the first day, I’ve got lots of confidence coming into the second day. The first day is usually the bigger challenge for me.”
Hecht would finish just one second back of Ortenblad. “About three or four laps in, I put in some attacks, just because I didn’t like how big the group was,” Hecht said. “Everyone was doing their best to move up, and that kind of creates a lot of chaos and a lot of energy that I don’t want to waste trying to stay near the front. So I put an acceleration in there to maybe spread it out. and then from there on out, it pretty much whittled down to Tobin and I. And then Eric and Michael were hanging on the back of us. He got me going into the railroad tie staircase, and I just didn’t have the space to get back on it. Sort of luck of the draw. I’m super stoked for a good weekend.”
The top pair were followed by Van den Ham in third, Brunner in fourth and Grant Elwood (Boulder Cycle Sport) in a very respectable fifth.
It was a surprising third-place finish for Van den Ham, who did not finish Saturday’s contest because of a crash midway through race that required a trip to the emergency room and seven stitches in his index finger of his right hand.
“Yesterday, about halfway through the race, someone went down in front of me and piled into him and sliced my finger open on something,” the Canadian said. “So I was in the ER last night. I didn’t actually know if I’d be able to race today. And even when I was on the start line today I thought, you know what, I’m just happy to be out here. I was really lucky with my accident. I guess they could see the ligament, but it didn’t slice it. So I’m happy just to be able to move my finger and not require surgery. Maybe that was the right mentality. I just went out here with nothing to lose. I ended up with a pretty good race.
“About three laps in, I dropped my chain and was maybe 15 seconds back. This is a really hard course to chase back 15 seconds,” van den Ham added. “So I kind of put the turbo-boosters on and eventually caught Tobin and Gage, with Eric (Thompson) there as well. I was pretty cooked by the time we got there, I was just hanging on. I never saw the front of the race. There were going too good. I was happy to get third place, all things considered.”
The 2017 ProCX season will conclude Dec. 9-10 with races in North Carolina and Texas. The Hunter Subaru North Carolina Grand Prix (NCGP) will return to Jackson Park in Hendersonville, N.C. for two days of C2 cyclocross races. Hunter Subaru NCGP is part of the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series, founded in 1997, that consists of 15 races across the state. OrthoCarolina is the 2017-18 series sponsor, with support from DeFeet and Carmichael Training Systems.
It will be the fourth UCI cyclocross event for the Texas Cross Syndicate, based in Garland, Texas, for the Resolution Cross Cup Dec. 9-10. Hosted at Winters Park, the Resolution Cross Cup is the only UCI cyclocross race in Texas this year.
Women's Results: 2017 Ruts N' Guts Day 2
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Result|
Men's Results: 2017 Ruts N' Guts Day 2
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Result|
|3||4||VAN DEN HAM||Michael||0:59:53|