Canadian Cyclist


April 9/06 7:35 am - Sea Otter Classic: Short Track Report and GC

Posted by Editoress on 04/9/06

Sea Otter Classic
by Paul Skilbeck, O2 Sports Media

Short Track


Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan/Merida) continued her triumphant march with an easy win in the third stage of the Pro Women's Omnium, ahead of Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) and Mary McConneloug. The top Canadian finisher was Melanie McQuaid (Orbea). A stomach upset kept Dahle-Flesjaa from the start line until two minutes before the gun, and she was asking her competitors - who had pre-ridden the course- what it was like out there. She may not have liked what they told her. And once the race got going, a first lap meeting with the gloop proved she had not been misinformed. The 0.5 mile circuit was covered with deep potholes concealed by liquid mud. It was as treacherous as it was short.

Approaching the finish of the final lap Dahle-Flesjaa went down on the constantly-changing obstacle course that was the final descent, and Alison Sydor briefly took the lead before succumbing to the treacherous potholes concealed by half a foot of wet mud. That was the last that Sydor saw of the front. "I just didn't have a great day today," said the three-time world champion.

Dahle-Flesjaa attacked on the second lap, taking Katerina Nash with her. Nobody else could follow. Dahle-Flesjaa established a lead and held it comfortably, often choosing to run down the descent rather than risk more unintentional dismounts. A battle for third place developed between McQuaid and McConneloug, and ultimately the rider from USA had a little more in reserve. "I wasn't going to let a triathlete beat me in a short track," joked McConneloug after the race.

In the Pro Women's Ominum, Dahle on 227 points increased her lead, while McConneloug on 208 moved up into second place ahead of Alison Sydor on 205 points. Kiara Bisaro (Team R.A.C.E.) finished fifth in the race, moving her up to sixth overall on 192.

What they said

Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (1st place)
"If you crash you break things (so I ran several treacherous parts of the course). I read the weather forecast and I have been praying every night for sun - and we got sun today when the forecast was for rain!"

Katerina Nash (2nd place)
"I inspected the course yesterday, and I used the same tire as Thursday - the Maxxis Medusa. It's a very popular tire for muddy conditions. Today was about having good luck. The holes in the course were always changing, and if you took one bad line you go down. I picked a bad line a couple of times, but overall I had a good idea of where to go. I moved up several places overall today: I like that!"

Mary McConneloug (3rd place)
"I felt everyone out there was cheering so loud, it was so cool. My niece and nephew and sister and brother-in-law were all here. It was great.. I am second overall here at present. This is definitely my best showing at Sea Otter, although three or four years ago I finished third overall, so we'll have to see what happens tomorrow."

Melanie McQuaid (4th place)
"Now I'm mainly with XTerra where we don't normally encounter muddy conditions like this, so it's a long time since I've raced in mud and I'd kind of forgotten how to do it. But I made a good tire choice today with the Maxxis Medusa and that helped a lot. If I'd had run these tires on Thursday I would have had a much better result."


Adam Craig (Giant) capped a thrilling race with a late-race challenge that took him past Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan-Merida) and Jean-Christophe Perraud (Orbea). Top Canadian finisher was Geoff Kabush (Jittery-Joes/Kalahari), who simply had a bad day and finished 14th.

The field went surprisingly fast given the muddy conditions. Kabush was at the front in lap two, but when attacks came from Hermida, Bart Bretjens (Giant) and Perraud, in the third, fourth and fifth laps, the winner of the 2005 Sea Otter Classic gradually drifted back.

Going into the final five laps Brentjens, Perraud and Hermida held a small lead. Craig and his compatriot Todd Wells (GT) were advancing quickly on the leaders, both taking considerable time out of them with clever lines on the descent. Mud veteran Thomas Frischcknecht was also advancing at an impressive rate. Clearly the finale was going to be explosive.

Perraud went off the front and Craig sliced through the front-runners with some brilliant descent lines that had the packed crowd gasping. Approaching two to go Craig passed Perraud at the top of the final descent and gapped him when the Frenchman slipped and put a foot down. Perraud gave chase and stuck close to Craig's wheel. On the final lap, it Perraud looked the stronger of the two, but he slipped giving Craig the opportunity he needed, and with deft skills the US rider notched a popular and rare home nation win.

Perraud hung onto second, while an extraordinary battle for third place ensued between Frischknecht, Hermida and Wells. Throwing caution to the wind, all three of them suffered and crashed to a greater or lesser extent descent. What determined the result was much to do with who got the least delayed by their blooper in the gloop. In the end it was Hermida.

In the Pro Men's Omnium Perraud holds the lead with 334 points, and Bart Brentjens, who finished sixth today, remains second on 311. Third overall going into tomorrow's final day is Jose Antonio Hermida. Kabush on 308. Craig is 13th with 273. Top Canadian is Kabush, 10th, with 282.

What they said:

Adam Craig (1st place)

"I was coming in to today looking to not look stupid, which is generally what I look for when racing in the mud in the early season."

"Once I survived the start - that was step 1 - and then once I realized these tires are frickin' rad - that was step 2. Step 3 was the downhill corner there where you could pass three people every lap - that was sweet - and just feeling good for some reason."

"I stayed on my bike the whole time. I was running if someone balling up in front, I'd run but otherwise I was staying on my bike. I had some clever lines that were working for me."

"I got a gap on Jean Christoph and he closed it on the back pavement and passed me. Then he got booted over the bars in one of those mud holes and I was like, "If I can just keep it clean - then I'd be good."

"I didn't watch the races before and didn't pre ride, I just kind of watched it unfold in front of me. I figured I wouldn't have a great start because I'd been poor the last couple of days. We were actually on the front row, it's just we started off in a mud hole. I was basically just watching heads, whenever I'd see a head go into the ground or way down, I'd just not go that way and find somewhere else to go."

"The lines were changing so much, I mean I rode half a dozen different lines in each section over the course of a dozen laps or whatever we did so it was good. I can't believe I just won that, that's hilarious."

Jose Hermida (3rd place)
"In Europe there are fewer short track races. We are not quite used to this style of racing. We only really see it in the Swiss Power Cup. Sometimes today it was easier running that to stay on the bike. I had a couple of crashes. Lines were disappearing all day and I made many mistakes as did all the other riders. It was a funny race. I'm really lucky it was a short one.. Today is a kind of a rest day. Sure I race at 100%, but it was a short race. Tomorrow I will have a big day in the cross country. I first came here three years ago. It was before the first World Cup, so we were all still building up. Now the Sea Otter Classic is after the first world cup and we are all going very fast. It is very different. I like this event, I enjoy being here."

Geoff Kabush (14th place)
"I just tried to ride clean and stay out of trouble. I didn't quite have the legs to go with the leaders. I'll get cleaned up now and try again tomorrow."


1. Jean Christoph Peraud (Fra) Orbea334 pts
2. Bart Brentjens (Ned) Giant-Racing-Team311
3. Jose Hermida (Esp) Multivan Merida Biking Team308
4. Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized Factory Racing301
5. Matt Kelly (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher294
6. Chris Jongewaard (Aus) Australian National Team293
7. Karl Platt (Ger) Rocky Mountain Business Objects292
8. Thomas Frishcknecht (USA) Sycip Racing287
9. Christophe Sauser (Sui) Specialized Factory Racing283
10. Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis282
16. Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mountain/ Business Objects265
19. Ricky Federau (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Com256
22. Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona Les Gets Factory Team253
31. Neal Kindree (Can) Kona Factory221
39. Roddi Lega (Can) Norco Factory Team/United Cycle208
49. Brendan Macintosh (Can) Brendan Macintosh167
1. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Multivan Merida Biking227 pts
2. Mary McConneloug (USA) Seven Cycles/Kenda208
3. Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mountain/Business Objects205
4. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Women's Mtb Team201
5. Georgia Gloud (USA) Luna Women's Mtb Team197
6. Kiara Bisaro (Can) Gearsracing.Com192
7. Jimena Florit (Arg) Luna Women's Mtb Team189
8. Sue Hayward (USA) Trek Vw177
9. Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher174
10. Sabrina Enaux (Fra) Lapierre Factory Team173
12. Wendy Simms (Can) Velo Bella - Kona170
13. Mical Dyck (Can) Terrascape Racing165
17. Melanie Mcquaid (Can) Orbea155
23. Catharine Pendrel (Can) Norco143
26. Trish Sinclair (USA) Scott Usa/Kenda131


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