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.
|1||61||MANI Caroline||FRA19870118||CC etupes||France||:42:13.756|
|2||62||BUTLER Susan||USA19710912||Team River City Bicycles/Ridley||Portland, Oregon||:42:29.075|
|3||63||STETSON-LEE Teal||USA19860524||Cal Giant Cycling Team||Durango, Colorado||:42:33.158|
|4||68||GORRY (HASKELL) Devon||USA19810103||Rambuski Law||Santa Cruz, California||:43.29.003|
|5||86||FORSMAN Chloe||USA19870721||Race Club 11||Tuscon, Arizona||:43:56.406|
|6||67||MANN Allison||USA19801111||Rock N' Road Cyclery||Murrieta, California||:44:20.866|
|7||95||GAERTNER Jennifer||USA19751008||Raleigh America||Coeur D'Alene, Idaho||:44:58.460|
|8||64||MAILE Sarah||USA19780927||Ventana Mountain Bikes||Sacramento, California||:45:15.672|
|9||65||DIMPEL Courtney||USA19830111||Team Rambuski Law||Aptos, California||:45:25.772|
|10||66||THURSTON Emily||USA19770518||STEVENS||San Pablo, California||:46:13.592|
|11||73||PROBERT-TURNER Chistina||USA19670419||The TEAM SoCalCross - Turner Bikes||Murrieta, California||:46:16.418|
|12||96||FINCHAMP Hannah||USA19951218||The TEAM SoCalCross||Altadena, California||:46:30.714|
|13||99||FORTNER Anna||USA19800513||The TEAM SoCalCross||Carpenteria, California||:46:45.286|
|14||75||RYAN Alexis||USA19940818||The TEAM SoCalCross||Ventura, California||:47:15.699|
|15||100||JAMES-KLINGER Nancy||USA19770517||The TEAM SoCalCross||Valencia, California||:47:59.699|
|16||72||MELKA Michelle||USA19800606||Red Racing||San Francisco, California||:48:29.161|
|17||71||SCHAPER Amanda||USA19831005||Ritte Racing||Laguna Beach, California||:49:08.051|
|18||89||BRANDT Nicole||USA19820330||LA Velocity||Marina del Rey, California||:49:39.780|
|19||79||HUMIC Vanessa||USA19800805||Long Beach State University||Long Beach, California||-2 laps|
|DNF||69||HORNER (ELLIOT) Megan||USA19820426||Black Mountain Bicycles||San Diego, California|
|DNS||88||WONG Dorothy||USA19651113||The TEAM SoCalCross||Altadena, California|
|1||1||TREBON Ryan||USA19810305||LTS/Felt||Bend, Oregon||1:03:53.000|
|2||6||BERDEN Ben||BEL19750929||Ops Ale - Stoemper||Riemst, Belgium||1:03:53.000|
|3||2||WELLS Todd||USA19751225||Specialized||Durango, Colorado||1:04:09.000|
|4||10||KRUGHOFF Allen||USA19840219||Boulder Cycle Sport||Boulder, Colorado||1:04:43.000|
|5||3||JONES Christopher||USA19790806||Rapha Focus||Auburn, California||1:04:56.000|
|6||9||KAISER Cody||USA19920527||Cal Giant Cycling Team||California||1:05:00.000|
|7||26||LOPES Brian||USA19710906||Oakley/ibis||Laguna Beach, California||1:05:05.000|
|8||5||KNAPP Ryan||USA19840513||Bob's Red Mill Cyclocross||Bloomington, Indiana||1:05:06.000|
|9||12||NOILES Kevin||CAN19800313||Sportique||Vancouver, BC, Canada||1:05:06.000|
|10||4||PARBO Joachim||DEN19741118||Leopard Cycles||Denmark||1:05:43.000|
|11||7||SCHOOLER Aaron||CAN19850620||Team H&R Block - Sri Importing||Edmonton, Canada||1:06:05.000|
|12||52||GRITTERS Brandon||USA19790816||Rock N' Road Cyclery||Mission Viejo, California||1:06:17.000|
|13||58||GRITTERS Kyle||USA19830503||Rock n Road Cyclery||Corona, California||1:06:50.000|
|14||35||ORENBLAND Tobin||USA19940929||California Giant Cycling/ California Giant||Santa Cruz, California||1:06:50.000|
|15||41||JACKSON Chris||USA19880814||Team Rambuski Law||Burbank, California||1:06:50.000|
|16||31||DOUVILLLE Gary||USA19750625||SDG/Felt p.b. IRT Wheels||Santa Barbara, California||1:06:51.000|
|17||17||BEHRENS John||USA19710723||Bailey Bikes||San Diego, California||1:06:55.000|
|18||21||WODTLI Brennan||USA19880113||Hutch's Bicycles All Access Promotions||Bend, Oregon||1:07:24.000|
|19||39||SIEGLE Jason||USA19790702||SDG/Felt p.b. IRT Wheels||Solvang, California||1:07:33.000|
|20||11||CHAPIN Scott||USA19830409||Bay101/HRS/Rocklobster||Santa Cruz, California||1:07:33.000|
|21||34||PRENZLOW Brent||USA19680901||Celo Pacific / Focus||Carlsbad, California||1:07:37.000|
|22||40||CARROLL Donny||USA19690203||Donny's Cafe / SpyOptics.com||Bonita, California||1:08:03.000|
|23||53||BRADFORD Aaron||USA19840909||Bay101/HRS/RockLobster||Santa Cruz, California||1:08:13.000|
|24||42||FORKNER David||USA19850607||SDG Felt p/b IRT Wheels||Solvang, California||1:08:18.000|
|25||22||PREBLE Kolby||USA19931108||Clif Bar Development Cyclocross Team||Forest Grove, Oregon||1:08:32.000|
|26||49||WOODRUFF Travis||USA19830131||Trek Store Boulder||Tuscon, Arizona||1:08:36.000|
|27||15||ROTSTEIN Abe||USA19880906||Team Bicycle Trip/Symantec||Watsonville, CA||1:08:39.000|
|28||32||MCNEAL David||USA19740202||Birmingham Bicycle Company||North Hollywood, California||1:09:02.000|
|29||18||COLTON Eric||USA19830609||The TEAM SoCalCross||Santa Cruz, California||1:09:18.000|
|30||8||WELLS Jake||USA19780628||Stan'sNoTubes||Avon, Colorado||1:09:21.000|
|31||24||BAILEY John||USA19730526||Bailey Bikes||San Diego, California||1:09:30.000|
|32||48||BOTTGER Frederick||USA19750512||SDG/Felt pb IRT||South Pasadena, California||1:09:51.000|
|33||33||TIETZEL Scott||USA19840328||Peaks To Plains Racing||Boulder, Colorado||1:09:55.000|
|34||25||BERTIGER Ben||USA19931130||The TEAM SoCalCross||Altadena, California||-1 laps|
|35||37||SHEEK David||USA19760520||SDG Felt p/b IRT Wheels||Huntington Beach, California||-1 laps|
|36||60||CODY Gerry||USA19780706||Cynergy Cycles||Los Angeles, California||-2 laps|
|37||43||WILLARD Ted||USA19810227||SDG/Felt p.b. IRT Wheels||Costa Mesa, California||-2 laps|
|38||20||YARRA Derek||USA19870603||IBIS/Buy-Cell||San Francisco, California||-2 laps|
|39||16||WEBER Dana||USA19810418||Jax Bicycle Center||Aliso Viejo, California||-2 laps|
|40||51||ANTON Blake||USA19880614||Team Clif Bar||Arroyo Grande, California||-2 laps|
|41||54||KWAN Jay||USA19800806||The TEAM SoCalCross||Carlsbad, California||-2 laps|
|42||56||VERTICAN Garnet||USA19711124||Giant||Crestline, California||-3 laps|
|43||44||VAUGH-RUIZ Alexander||USA19920803||The TEAM SoCalCross||Los Angeles, California||-3 laps|
|44||50||WARREN Ben||USA19881130||Virginia Polytechnic University||Laguna Hills, California||-4 laps|
|DNF||38||RYAN Morgan||USA19910612||VRC, NOW-MS Society||Ventura, California|
|DNS||59||McGEE Matthew||USA19720606||2Cross Racing/Bikes +||North Las Vegas, Nevada|