Spooky Cross

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA—The Cross After Dark series has been dominated by riders either based in Europe or  traveling this weekend to the first World Cup in the Czech Republic. That vacuum stands to be filled by other racers looking to take over the Cross After Dark crown at Spooky Cross, the final race of the race series that opened at CrossVegas just over a month ago. Racers high in the overall standings like Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea), Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus), Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) and CrossVegas winner Lars van der Haar (Rabo-Giant) wouldn’t be contesting Spooky Cross, leaving the door open for many other US-based cyclocross racers.

Throughout the series, a variety of faces have graced the podium. At CrossVegas, Van der Haar took a convincing win shutting out the American contingent. At StarCrossed, the next stop in the series, Wellens won over Americans Ryan Trebon (LTS-Felt) and Jonathan Page (Planet Bike). And at September’s Gateway Cup, Powers took the win over Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper).

On the Women’s side, Katerina Nash and Amy Dombroski made for the conspicuous absences, leaving room for Caroline Mani and Teal Stetson-Lee, who stood in 5th and 2nd place, respectively, in the series standings.

While the final outcome wasn’t truly in the bag till the last lap, the race was over when Mani grabbed the hole shot. The reigning French National Champion jumped out to a seven second lead and never relinquished it. That small gap stayed consistent until late in the race when it expanded to nearly 20 seconds over closest rival Sue Butler (River City Bicycles/Ridley).  Mani had enough of a cushion to seemingly enjoy the festivities as she zipped around the course to the roars of the crowd.

Mani got into the Spooky Cross spirit by wearing glasses that could best be described as Coco Chanel night vision goggles. And those dramatically oversized glasses were just the tip of the ice pick when it came to embracing her dark side. After the race Mani admitted her winning strategy consisted of telling Butler she was going to murder her “At the start I said, I’m going to kill you,” explained Mani with a sweet, slightly devilish grin.  Luckily, that threat turned out to be an inside joke going back to last weekend’s New Belgium Cup in Fort Collins, CO.

Behind Mani, the battle between Butler and Stetson-Lee kept things interesting. Stetson-Lee fought her way up to third and got within a handful of seconds but couldn’t fully close in on Butler.

On the men’s side, the race played out just like the women’s- three contenders, everybody else, and a must-win situation.

Trebon got to the front on the opening straight but didn’t have much time to enjoy the view. Local boy and California Elite State CX Champion Brian Lopes (Ibis) utilized a few of the skills that won him four world titles in gravity mountain biking to overcome a bad starting position and take the lead by the first turn.

Much to the surprise and awe of the crowd Lopes continued to mix it up through the first few laps until a mechanical hiccup caused him to lose contact with Trebon and Belgian import Ben Berden (Stoemper Bikes).  Almost right on cue, current US National Champion Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) took Lopes’ spot and the race for the podium had begun. For the next 40 minutes, Trebon, Berden, and Wells were never more than a couple of bike lengths apart. While predominately flat and fast, the 3.5k course had enough technical sections sprinkled throughout to keep everyone honest.

The trio eventually found a spot for launching attacks in the form of a 75 yard long sand pit that felt just as deep. Leading up to it was a wide-open stretch of table flat pavement that bottlenecked right where things got sandy. Whoever hit the sand first and could stay on their bike the longest would open up a temporary a gap on the others.

Inside of one lap to go Wells blinked and it was game on between Berden and Trebon. Going into the Spooky Cross, Berden held a scant 11 point lead over Trebon in the Cross After Dark overall standings. Whoever got to the finish line first would take the crown.

The duo remained dead even until the final turn where Trebon shot around the outside. 60 minutes of racing would come down to the last 10 meters. With one final surge Trebon managed to put half a wheel between himself and Berden. A well-timed bike throw increased that margin to a half a bike length giving Trebon the win and the Cross After Dark title with room to spare.

Full Results

161MANI CarolineFRA19870118CC etupesFrance:42:13.756
262BUTLER SusanUSA19710912Team River City Bicycles/RidleyPortland, Oregon:42:29.075
363STETSON-LEE TealUSA19860524Cal Giant Cycling TeamDurango, Colorado:42:33.158
468GORRY (HASKELL) DevonUSA19810103Rambuski LawSanta Cruz, California:43.29.003
586FORSMAN ChloeUSA19870721Race Club 11Tuscon, Arizona:43:56.406
667MANN AllisonUSA19801111Rock N' Road CycleryMurrieta, California:44:20.866
795GAERTNER JenniferUSA19751008Raleigh AmericaCoeur D'Alene, Idaho:44:58.460
864MAILE SarahUSA19780927Ventana Mountain BikesSacramento, California:45:15.672
965DIMPEL CourtneyUSA19830111Team Rambuski LawAptos, California:45:25.772
1066THURSTON EmilyUSA19770518STEVENSSan Pablo, California:46:13.592
1173PROBERT-TURNER ChistinaUSA19670419The TEAM SoCalCross - Turner BikesMurrieta, California:46:16.418
1296FINCHAMP HannahUSA19951218The TEAM SoCalCrossAltadena, California:46:30.714
1399FORTNER AnnaUSA19800513The TEAM SoCalCrossCarpenteria, California:46:45.286
1475RYAN AlexisUSA19940818The TEAM SoCalCrossVentura, California:47:15.699
15100JAMES-KLINGER NancyUSA19770517The TEAM SoCalCrossValencia, California:47:59.699
1672MELKA MichelleUSA19800606Red RacingSan Francisco, California:48:29.161
1771SCHAPER AmandaUSA19831005Ritte RacingLaguna Beach, California:49:08.051
1889BRANDT NicoleUSA19820330LA VelocityMarina del Rey, California:49:39.780
1979HUMIC VanessaUSA19800805Long Beach State UniversityLong Beach, California-2 laps
DNF69HORNER (ELLIOT) MeganUSA19820426Black Mountain BicyclesSan Diego, California
DNS88WONG DorothyUSA19651113The TEAM SoCalCrossAltadena, California

11TREBON RyanUSA19810305LTS/FeltBend, Oregon1:03:53.000
26BERDEN BenBEL19750929Ops Ale - StoemperRiemst, Belgium1:03:53.000
32WELLS ToddUSA19751225SpecializedDurango, Colorado1:04:09.000
410KRUGHOFF AllenUSA19840219Boulder Cycle SportBoulder, Colorado1:04:43.000
53JONES ChristopherUSA19790806Rapha FocusAuburn, California1:04:56.000
69KAISER CodyUSA19920527Cal Giant Cycling TeamCalifornia1:05:00.000
726LOPES BrianUSA19710906Oakley/ibisLaguna Beach, California1:05:05.000
85KNAPP RyanUSA19840513Bob's Red Mill CyclocrossBloomington, Indiana1:05:06.000
912NOILES KevinCAN19800313SportiqueVancouver, BC, Canada1:05:06.000
104PARBO JoachimDEN19741118Leopard CyclesDenmark1:05:43.000
117SCHOOLER AaronCAN19850620Team H&R Block - Sri ImportingEdmonton, Canada1:06:05.000
1252GRITTERS BrandonUSA19790816Rock N' Road CycleryMission Viejo, California1:06:17.000
1358GRITTERS KyleUSA19830503Rock n Road CycleryCorona, California1:06:50.000
1435ORENBLAND TobinUSA19940929California Giant Cycling/ California GiantSanta Cruz, California1:06:50.000
1541JACKSON ChrisUSA19880814Team Rambuski LawBurbank, California1:06:50.000
1631DOUVILLLE GaryUSA19750625SDG/Felt p.b. IRT WheelsSanta Barbara, California1:06:51.000
1717BEHRENS JohnUSA19710723Bailey BikesSan Diego, California1:06:55.000
1821WODTLI BrennanUSA19880113Hutch's Bicycles All Access PromotionsBend, Oregon1:07:24.000
1939SIEGLE JasonUSA19790702SDG/Felt p.b. IRT WheelsSolvang, California1:07:33.000
2011CHAPIN ScottUSA19830409Bay101/HRS/RocklobsterSanta Cruz, California1:07:33.000
2134PRENZLOW BrentUSA19680901Celo Pacific / FocusCarlsbad, California1:07:37.000
2240CARROLL DonnyUSA19690203Donny's Cafe / SpyOptics.comBonita, California1:08:03.000
2353BRADFORD AaronUSA19840909Bay101/HRS/RockLobsterSanta Cruz, California1:08:13.000
2442FORKNER DavidUSA19850607SDG Felt p/b IRT WheelsSolvang, California1:08:18.000
2522PREBLE KolbyUSA19931108Clif Bar Development Cyclocross TeamForest Grove, Oregon1:08:32.000
2649WOODRUFF TravisUSA19830131Trek Store BoulderTuscon, Arizona1:08:36.000
2715ROTSTEIN AbeUSA19880906Team Bicycle Trip/SymantecWatsonville, CA1:08:39.000
2832MCNEAL DavidUSA19740202Birmingham Bicycle CompanyNorth Hollywood, California1:09:02.000
2918COLTON EricUSA19830609The TEAM SoCalCrossSanta Cruz, California1:09:18.000
308WELLS JakeUSA19780628Stan'sNoTubesAvon, Colorado1:09:21.000
3124BAILEY JohnUSA19730526Bailey BikesSan Diego, California1:09:30.000
3248BOTTGER FrederickUSA19750512SDG/Felt pb IRTSouth Pasadena, California1:09:51.000
3333TIETZEL ScottUSA19840328Peaks To Plains RacingBoulder, Colorado1:09:55.000
3425BERTIGER BenUSA19931130The TEAM SoCalCrossAltadena, California-1 laps
3537SHEEK DavidUSA19760520SDG Felt p/b IRT WheelsHuntington Beach, California-1 laps
3660CODY GerryUSA19780706Cynergy CyclesLos Angeles, California-2 laps
3743WILLARD TedUSA19810227SDG/Felt p.b. IRT WheelsCosta Mesa, California-2 laps
3820YARRA DerekUSA19870603IBIS/Buy-CellSan Francisco, California-2 laps
3916WEBER DanaUSA19810418Jax Bicycle CenterAliso Viejo, California-2 laps
4051ANTON BlakeUSA19880614Team Clif BarArroyo Grande, California-2 laps
4154KWAN JayUSA19800806The TEAM SoCalCrossCarlsbad, California-2 laps
4256VERTICAN GarnetUSA19711124GiantCrestline, California-3 laps
4344VAUGH-RUIZ AlexanderUSA19920803The TEAM SoCalCrossLos Angeles, California-3 laps
4450WARREN BenUSA19881130Virginia Polytechnic UniversityLaguna Hills, California-4 laps
DNF38RYAN MorganUSA19910612VRC, NOW-MS SocietyVentura, California
DNS59McGEE MatthewUSA197206062Cross Racing/Bikes +North Las Vegas, Nevada