Bay Area in the background. © Tim Westmore

The Bay Area provided a spectacular backdrop for Candlestick Point Trippel Cross. © Tim Westmore

by Tim Westmore

Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law) out-dueled Kerry Barnholt-Bonar to win the race for Elite Women on a vastly different course than the previous visits to Candlestick Point. In the Elite Men’s race, Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) patiently waited for the right moment to take the prize away from top competition, including two of the best US youngsters in Tobin Ortenblad and Cody Kaiser, of California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized.

The usual dust at Candlestick Point was absent bar one gravel stretch shortly after the start-finish straightaway. The remainder of the course had the same variety of terrain as the previous two visits to the locale except for the sand; seeding and the rains firmed-up the looser sections of the course. Although the Golden Gate Park venue was missed, the fast course, with the flyover Bridge of Sighs and four plank barriers one after the other, provided for some close racing.

Two battles emerged in the Elite Women’s race. Up front Brems and Barnholt-Bonar exchanged the lead between themselves whilst, a short distance back, Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rocklobster) and Emily Kachorek (TBB.CX) contested third place. Both pairs of riders appeared content to race in that mode for most of the laps. “We were working together, trading pulls every lap,” said Brems, “I passed her [Barnholt-Bonar] on the barriers and just started going as hard as I can. Inch by inch, I opened up a gap.”

Returning into view of the flyover, the lead Brems had over Barnholt-Bonar was small but significantly larger than at other times in the race. It was enough for the Team Rambuski Law rider to press on over the flyover and onto the finish for the win. “I went as hard as I could that last section,” continued Brems, “I forgot; I was thinking we had to sprint to the start line. I was thinking it would be hard to sprint for that start line but then I remembered it was all the way to the finish. That very last turn there is tight and slick so I made sure I didn’t wipe-out on that. All you need is a few seconds coming into the finish and I knew I had it.”

Behind Barnholt-Bonar taking second place, Kachorek and Sherrill continued their individual contest. The road racer was in the best position of the two and Kachorek grabbed the third step of the podium. Kristin Drumm (Cycles Fanatic) rode a solid race to come home in fifth place.

“Golden Gate Park was my favourite race so I was pretty bummed,” remarked Brems, “but, it is what it is. [This course is] totally different from the first two times. The sand pit’s not there anymore. It’s all packed down and tacky. It’s a lot faster than it was before. I like this better – it’s tackier, you can go faster. It’s fun. I got second the first three races in BASP so it’s nice to finally get a win here. My season’s going well [and] I feel like I’m riding as best as I can.”

The fast-paced Elite Men’s race quickly boiled down to seven to eight riders in a train up front. In this group were Bradford, Kaiser, and Ortenblad as well as Scott Chapin (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster), Mitch Trux (Sterling Cross p/b Fusion I/O), Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law), Julian Gomez-Villafane (ibis/ and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Ritte/Bear Development). The lead changed hands several times with Trux taking a turn early and Ortenblad putting in a serious challenge. Gomez-Villafane was in danger of losing touch later in the race but held on for seventh after Ben Jacques-Maynes fell afoul on course.

The train held together until two laps remaining. “The deciding feature on the course was one of the run-up/ride-up sections, [the] rocky one after the long straight-away after the start-finish,” remarked Bradford, “I noticed that Ben [Jacques-Maynes] was [unable] to ride it on his one-speed. Most of the geared riders were [able to ride up.] So, as long as you’re in front of him [Jacques-Maynes] going into that [run-up] you could probably ride it.”

“With two-to-go, he [Jacques-Maynes] slipped in right behind me,” continued Bradford, “I had a clear shot at [the run-up] so I cleaned it. I just heard a little bit of chaos going on so I just punched it a little bit. [I] went through the next couple of flat, drifty turns and when I finally got to a point where I could turn around and look, I realised just in a matter of a minute or so I had a 10 second gap. At two-to-go, I wasn’t really wanting to go off the front. I was hoping to keep it together a little bit longer. I waited for a mistake, punched it, and it worked out. When I saw that I had [that] gap, I punched it for maybe a quarter lap to see what would happen. That’s when I could see the gap was growing, I was committed.”

“The group was big. I didn’t think there [would] be any solo attacks unless something happened that would break up the organization of the group,” said Bradford, “[My] last race, at Surf City, I wasn’t patient. It was frustrating. If you just read the race and take it one turn at a time, maybe things could go a little better. There [at Surf City], it didn’t go so well. I was just patient here and felt the group out to see who was riding strong and who to watch.”

Bradford held onto his lead for the remainder of the race and finished first with Ortenblad leading the chase. The Junior racer took second ahead of his team mate Kaiser. Keith Hillier came home in fourth place whilst Scott Chapin crossed the finish line in fifth.

Results for Elite Women
1. Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law)
2. Kerry Barnholt-Bonar
3. Emily Kachorek (TBB.CX)
4. Ellen Sherril (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster)
5. Kristen Drumm (Cycles Fanatic)
6. Caroline Dezendorf (West Coast Women’s Cycling)
7. Katie Jay Melena (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster)

Results for Elite Men
1. Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster)
2. Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant/Specialized)
3. Cody Kaiser (California Giant/Specialized)
4. Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law)
5. Scott Chapin (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster)
6. Mitch Trux (Sterling Cross p/b Fusion I/O)
7. Julian Gomez-Villafane (ibis/

Stay tuned for a full gallery!