Posted by Editoress on 04/18/05
Sea Otter Classic Monterey CA
Human Kinetics Publishers
Sunday was Canada Day at the Sea Otter Classic, with Canadian men and women winning both the final stages and the overall titles in the Mountain Bike Stage Race. The 15th annual Sea Otter Classic concluded with the premier event - the 58 kilometre cross-country race. Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) took the men's title, and three-time world champion Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) the women's.
The Sea Otter cross-country is the final stage of the four stage event, with the riders facing two laps of an up and down off-road trek through the Fort Ord Recreation Area. This year, the race was made even more difficult by winds gusting up to 50 kilometres an hour, punishing the riders as they rode through dust on rutted single track trails.
The windy conditions kept the the top women together, since no one wanted to brave the wind on their own. A lead group of 10 riders formed at the front of the race, including all the top contenders - Sydor, defending champion Alison Dunlap (Luna), her team mate Katarina Hanusova, Wendy Simms (Frontrunners), Sue Haywood (Trek-VW), Lyne Bessette (Louis Garneau), Kiara Bisaro (Gearsracing.com) and Kelli Emmett (Ford). Trish Sinclair (Scott) yo-yoed on and off the group for the first lap, in her first race back since knee surgery last fall.
Haywood and Hanusova would get knocked out contention by flat tires, but the overall standings came down to the final sprint - if Dunlap won and Sydor finished outside the top three, then time bonuses would vault Dunlap into the top spot. Sydor left nothing to chance, easily sprinting away from the rest of the group in the final two hundred yards to win the stage and the overall title. Dunlap finished fourth on the stage and second overall, while Simms' second place on the stage moved her up to third in the overall standings.
Alison Sydor: "It was so windy today and, in a way, that made it easier to defend the jersey. Sue and Katarina flatted, so that took them out of the equation. Basically, all I had to do was stay with Dunlap, and if she won I had to finish at least third. I got attacked a million times, but I was able to respond. I just made sure that I rode defensively, tactically, and carefully today."
"In the sprint I wasn't thinking about anything but staying on her (Dunlap's) wheel. As it was, Dunlap went a little early, so it was a perfect setup for me. i wanted to come off the right side because of the crosswwind, and that's where I was."
Alison Dunlap: "I spent the whole race trying to get rid of her (Sydor), so I had nothing left for the sprint. It was funny dynamics today; a little bit like a road race. Nobody was inclined to work, or attack because it was so windy."
Wendy Simms: "Alison Dunlap kept making moves and Alison Sydor would respond immediately, and the rest of us would creep back up to them. So many times I thought I would be dropped, but at the finish I just followed Alison (Sydor's) wheel and I felt strong then in the sprint."
Upon hearing that she was third in GC: "Holy crap!"
Lyne Bessette: "It was a great course for me, more road like. But there is always pressure on the pedals, even on the downhills, so there is no chance to rest, and I'm not used to that. I started to feel better by the second lap, and after a couple of hours I was feeling good. I had to chase back on after the steep climbs because gaps would open up, because i don't have as much experience with the climbing. I'm getting there, I just remember my philosophy for mountain biking: do it for fun."
in the men's race Bart Brentjens (Giant) began the day with a solid 50 second lead over Trent Lowe (Subaru-Gary Fisher), and was one minute and four seconds ahead of Kabush. Lowe tangled with Todd Wells (GT) early in the first lap and crashed, taking him out of contention. Kabush had a formidable job to erase this deficit, and he began almost immediately, attacking on the first climb. Only Liam Killeen (Specialized) was able to match his surge, and the pair quickly dropped the remainder of the field.
By the halfway point in the first lap, the duo's lead over Brentjens and a chase group was over a minute, and Kabush was the leader 'on the road'. The pair stayed together until the end, with Kabush out sprinting Killeen for the stage victory. Killeen's Specialized team mate Sid Taberley soloed in for third place, and Brentjens rolled in sixth, over three and a half minutes down, after losing an eye contact on the first lap and crashing on the second. Killeen moved into second in the overall standings, while Brentjens dropped to third.
Roland Green (Kona), in his first race since last July performed strongly, finishing 8th in the stage (2nd Canadian) and ending up 10th overall.
Geoff Kabush: "I knew it was going to be tough to get rid of Brentjens. I took the lead after the first climb and strung it out. I think someone made a mistake behind and a gap opened up. I think me and Liam had a bit more power, so I said to him 'Let's go'. I was worried he (Killeen) was going to attack on the last climb; he was hurting me on the climbs."
Liam Killeen: "Today was so windy that it benefited us being together. I was pretty confident that he (Kabush) was the guy to follow, he was so strong all weekend. We just kept it smooth, shared the workload and put in a solid tempo. Looking back now I should have pushed it more on the last couple of climbs."
Bart Brentjens: "I had a bad start, and wasn't with the first ten riders at the top of the first climb. Then they (Kabush and Killeen) went away while I was struggling a bit to get up. Then I lost my contact, which made it harder on the downhills, and crashed on the second lap. The speed was just too high for me, just too fast."
- This was a banner week for Geoff Kabush: He had his birthday on Thursday, and got engaged, then won Sea Otter. "It was a pretty big week". Geoff's fiance is Keri Pink, who works for Smith Optics, and whom he met at the Interbike last fall. You will notice that he is wearing custom pink Smith sunglasses...
- Staying with Geoff Kabush - he was leaving tonight on the redeye for the Tour of Georgia, to ride with the Jittery Joe's team.
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