BROKEN ARROW, OKLA.—After a holiday break for Thanksgiving, the cyclocross season jumped back into full gear at Ruts N’ Guts on a warm, sunny Saturday full of the local flair and flavors at Chisholm Trail South Park in Broken Arrow. Now in its eighth year, Ruts N’ Guts powered by the City of Broken Arrow showcased Elite Women and Men with the final Category 1 races of the season on the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar (Pro CX). Ruts N’ Guts also continued as the opening weekend for the Southern Cross Series, an amateur series with four weekends of races in Oklahoma and Texas.
The Elite Women’s race was won by Crystal Anthony (Maxxis Shimano Pro Cyclocross) of Newbury Park, Calif. and the Elite Men’s battle was taken by Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label) of Santa Cruz, Calif.
Anthony Gets First-Ever C1 Win on Saturday
The unseasonably warm weather did not stop Crystal Anthony (Maxxis Shimano Pro Cyclocross) from securing her very first C1 title. Anthony went to the front early in the Elite Women’s race with Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Cycles DNA Cycling) and the two seemed to ride away from the very beginning.
“Awesome. (My) first C1 win ever,” Anthony exclaimed after the race. “I just got back from Europe, pretty hard racing over there. So I was pretty motivated to come back (to the U.S.) and use that experience on home soil. I felt good today. Courtenay and I kind of got away from the group. I got a little lead, then I messed up so we were back together. It was a good race.”
— USACProCX (@USACProCX) December 2, 2017
Anthony showed poise and patience, while McFadden just hung on her wheel. It was not until the last lap that Anthony would drop the hammer and ride away.
“After the first lap, Crystal put in an attack and I just couldn’t respond to her attack,” said McFadden, who finished 13 seconds behind Anthony. “And then it was literally like cat and mouse, I was the cat and she was the mouse. And then going into the last lap after those stairs, I don’t remember if (something) got in my cleat or my cleat twisted, I couldn’t clip in the whole last lap. My cleat wouldn’t go into my pedal, so I was just bobbling around on my pedal the whole time, and pedaling with one side. And then it randomly popped back in. But I did what I could. I was a little bit faster through the technical, twisty stuff. And Crystal was better at the power sections. It was a good race.”
Van Dessel Factory teammates Caroline Mani and Sunny Gilbert tried to stay with the leaders throughout the first two laps, but Anthony and McFadden were just too strong.
“I just didn’t have it today,” said Mani, who entered the weekend in second place overall in the Elite Women’s Pro CX standings. Anthony sits 85 points back in fifth position. “They were strong. I just don’t feel very punchy. Hopefully it gets better tomorrow. I just kind of felt heavy and not really reactive. I still got a podium. I think Courtenay and Crystal rode really well. So I tried to come back, but when I realized I wasn’t really closing the gap. I managed to just ride smooth. I was hoping to get a win for the C1 because I need the points for the ranking. But that’s it. I am still happy with third. There were strong people in front of me.”
Mani would take the third followed by her teammate Gilbert. Amanda “Panda” Nauman (SDG – Muscle Monster) fought hard to hang on to fifth over a hard charging Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co – Groove Subaru).
“It’s a new discipline now, it’s not cyclocross. What the heck. I’m cleaning my bike with Windex,” Mani added about the dry and warm 70-degree temperatures at Ruts ’N Guts.
Ortenblad Wins Again at Ruts N’ Guts
The final Elite Men’s C1 competition had an evenly-match front row for the start in the Sooner State. At the end, it was déjà vu from 2016 with Ortenblad coming out the winner over Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team).
Racing was fast and tight all the way through. Ortenblad, Werner, Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co – Groove Subaru), Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports), and Cody Kaiser (Langetwins/Specialized) separated from the field two laps in and shared the pace for most of the day.
“It was a pretty quick group all day, and a couple of super-decisive parts, mostly the sand,” analyzed Ortenblad about the course and the competition. “The sand has a couple of rutted spots, with only one line through. Eventually, it came down to Kerry, Gage, Cody Kaiser, Lance Haidet and I. Cody and Lance were kind of back and forth on the back. Gage at the end had a mechanical. It was just Kerry and me. We were pretty pinned the last two laps.”
Kaiser was the first to crack, then Haidet, but the two were never very far of the lead trio. With three to go, Kaiser dropped his chain giving Werner and Ortenblad a gap. The lead twosome seemed to be alone, but a lap later the group was all back together with four riders, and Kaiser closing back in. The group would get the bell and head out one more time.
“Gage eventually got on and coming through the finish line with one to go it came back to a group of four of us. It was Kerry, Gage, Lance and me. And I was on the back, not really where I wanted to be,” recounted Pro CX leader. “I kind of had this move in my back pocket that I knew was good for a pass on two people, at least. So I got ahead of Lance. Towards the end of the lap there is a big ditch. Everyone was going way outside and around it. I knew if I could just pin it, I could hop the ditch and pass two people. So I hopped the ditch and got past Kerry and Gage, and held it wide open to the finish line.”
With a small ditch just before a set of stairs a few hundred meters from the finish, Ortenblad made his move. Hecht battled back from his mechanical to take the last step on the podium in third, followed by Haidet in fourth, then Kaiser rounding out the Top Five.
“It was a good race,” said runner-up Werner. “That was a solid move by Tobin, it was just a little oversight on my side. I saw that line in practice and I tried it in practice, but (today) I was going way too slow to make it happen. I rode it and almost crashed. We were really cookin’ into it for the finish. He chopped me into the stairs and then there wasn’t much room to make a move here at the end of the course. And that was that.”
About chopping Werner at the stairs? “I got there first,” said Ortenblad
It was a strong ride for 19-year-old Hecht, who had his first win in an Elite Men’s C2 race before Thanksgiving at Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup. He finishes fourth in the Elite Men’s C1 race at Cincinnati Cyclocross earlier this season.
“It was a really fun day. I was kind of excited for this race because we raced it last year and I had a blast on this course,” said Hecht. “I started off really strong. I may have worked too hard too early trying to spread the group out, and seeing what I could do there. I felt pretty good in the end. I am still pretty happy about that. I just wasn’t as smooth going up over the stairs, riding up them, I dropped my chain on one lap. I just need to work on that. I am really happy to finish on the podium. It was a really good race.”
Pro CX races continue Dec. 3 in two regions of the U.S., Broken Arrow, Okla. and in Warwick, R.I. At Ruts ’N Guts on Sunday, non-racers can enjoy a fully-supported Chicken-Waffle-Bourbon Ride in the country followed by brunch. A 67-mile ride offers a combination of gravel and pavement, and there is a 44-mile ride option that is pavement only. Both rides begin at 9 a.m. and are followed by chicken and waffles brunch.More information can be found at rutsnguts.org
The NBX Gran Prix of Cross will feature the final events of the eight-race Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart. Vittoria Series award jerseys will be awarded to U23 Women, U23 Men, Elite Women and Elite Men after races on Sunday.
Women's Results: 2017 Ruts 'N Guts Day 1
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Age||Result|
Men's Results: 2017 Ruts 'N Guts Day 1
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Result|
|DNF||396||VAN DEN HAM||Michael|