Love it or hate it, California is often seen as a trendsetter state, and in the case of cycling, that includes getting an early start on the cyclocross season. Keith DeFiebre’s Central Coast Cyclocross Series (CCCX) already has two races in the books—and plenty of USAC ranking points given out to West Coast riders chasing Nationals start positions.

The CCCX series has historically been one of the smaller Bay Area series, mostly because it is a further drive from most of the population based around San Francisco Bay. However, this season, with Nationals nearby in Reno, and West Coast racers on the hunt for some USA Cycling points, the series appears to be drawing bigger numbers and top talent even from outside the area from as far as Bend, Oregon.

Promoter DeFiebre explains the early season success, saying, “It has been a good start to the season, people are stoked for Nationals in Norcal/Nevada for sure.”

The series races are typically held at two main venues, the Ft. Ord National Monument located south of Salinas and Manzanita Park in Prunedale, with other locations mixed in. The first three races of the series are at Ft. Ord, and on Sunday riders were there to battle the dust and the course for Race 2 of the 8-race series.

With the CCCX series starting ahead of the national UCI calendar, the races provide an opportunity for local Elite riders to get some race experience before hitting the road. At the first race on August 27, Elle Anderson won the Women’s race before setting out on her cyclocross adventure for the season, and Tobin Ortenblad won the Men’s race.

Sunday’s race brought even more talent to Ft. Ord, with Ortenblad being joined in the Men’s Elite field by defending U23 National Champion Lance Haidet, 2016 Junior 15-16 National Champion Ben Gomez-Villafane, Nationals contender and ice cream eating champion Ryder Uetrecht—whom we recently profiled at Montana Cross Camp—and professional mountain bike racer Alex Wild, who was racing his first-ever cyclocross race.

Ortenblad and Haidet pulled away halfway through the race and stayed together the rest of the way. Oretenblad won by a few seconds in the end.

Tobin Ortenblad and Lance Haidet were two of the talented young riders at the CCCX race on Sunday. 2017 CCCX CX Race 2 © J. Vander Stucken / cxmagazine.com

The Women’s field was headed up by Karen Brems, who won her age group at Masters Worlds in 2012 and 2013, along with Nationals in 2016. The Uetrechts made the event a family weekend outing with Ryder being joined by his mom Stephanie in the Women’s Elite race and his dad Sean in the Masters 45+ field.

Ortenblad and Haidet stole the show in the Men’s Elite race. The two had a minute on the third-place finisher Wild, and they battled deep into the race. Ortenblad was able to eventually gain the slimmest of margins and won the race by three seconds over Haidet. Gomez-Villafane finished fourth and Uetrecht sixth.

Ben Gomez-Villafane remounts at the top of the hill, followed by Tobin Ortenblad and U23 Champion Lance Haidet

Ben Gomez-Villafane remounts at the top of the run-up hill, followed by Tobin Ortenblad and U23 Champion Lance Haidet. 2017 CCCX CX Race 2 © J. Vander Stucken / cxmagazine.com

Brems picked up her first win of the season after finishing second behind Belgium-bound Elle Anderson in the first CCCX race.

Photographer Jeff Vander Stucken was at Ft. Ord to document the day of racing. See below for a photo gallery from the day of racing.

The CCCX series resumes on Saturday with Race 3 at Ft. Ord. For more information about the series, visit cccxcycling.com. To see all Vander Stucken’s photos, see his galleries here.

CCCX Ft. Ord Race 2 Photo Gallery by Jeff Vander Stucken

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Ortenblad and Haidet pulled away halfway through the race and stayed together the rest of the way. Oretenblad won by a few seconds in the end.

Ortenblad and Haidet pulled away halfway through the race and stayed together the rest of the way. Ortenblad won by a few seconds in the end. 2017 CCCX CX Race 2 © J. Vander Stucken / cxmagazine.com

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