Canadian Cyclist


April 15/07 11:13 am - Sea Otter Classic: Cross Country report

Posted by Editoress on 04/15/07

The 2007 Sea Otter Classic concluded on Sunday with the premier event - the pro men's and women's cross-country race. To no one's surprise, the two dominant North American riders this spring won - Georgia Gould (Team Luna Chix) and Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis).

After a deluge of rain the day before, riders were relieved to wake up to clear and sunny conditions for the arduous 38 mile (61 km), two lap race through the Fort Ord Recreation area overlooking Monterey Bay. However, strong, gusting winds meant that any rider attempting a solo effort faced a daunting task.

Gould, the Pan American Champion, was unafraid of the wind and quickly opened a gap on the rest of the women's field within the first few miles. By the end of lap one the Colorado rider was two minutes up on the chasing duo of Kiara Bisaro (Team Opus) and Gould's team mate Katerina Nash. She extended her lead further in the second long lap, and rolled across the finish line with a big smile on her face.

"I didn't ever look back. Sue (Haywood, Trek Bikes) attacked on the first climb and when I got by her I just set my own pace. I feel comfortable riding by myself in the wind, so it didn't bother me that I would be out there alone. I felt really good; it was one of those days where everything goes right."

Bisaro, and her Czech rival Nash rode together for the entire race, taking turns at the front breaking the wind. Nash opened a slight gap on the final technical descent, but Bisaro powered her way back as the race entered the final mile, and then outsprinted Nash for second place.

"Katerina and I were back and forth all race. She is so smooth on the technical stuff that I just followed behind. it was actually fun to ride with Katerina, she is such a considerate rider."

"Even though she (Nash) is Georgia's team mate, Georgia had such a big lead that we worked together so that we wouldn't get caught. She dropped me by 4 or 5 seconds in the last technical section, and I almost died to catch her."

The men's race proved to be one of attrition, as Kabush - the men's Pan American Champion - set a high tempo for the first lap which burned off all but four rivals from his wheel - Christoph Sauser (Specialized), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Orbea), Todd Wells and Burry Stander (both GT). Further attacks on the second lap brought the lead group down to Kabush, Short Track winner Peraud (Orbea) and Sauser. Both Sauser and Peraud laid down multiple attacks on Kabush, but the Canadian national champion responded to every one, and then outsprinted his rivals in the final 300 metres to win the 2007 Sea Otter cross-country title.

"The first lap I took control for quite a bit to make a split in the field, and then did again in the first half of the second lap. Sauser and Peraud started attacking and Sauser put us in the gutter a few times, but once it was down to three I was pretty confident for the sprint. This is good for my confidence for sure, as we get ready for the first World Cup next week in Belgium."

Race Notes

- Kabush is looking to a solid race in Houffalize next weekend, but not expecting miracles. "I want to go over, stay healthy and have a solid race. I haven't had that in Europe, so if I do that I'll be happy. I know I can ride with the top guys, it's just a matter of getting through the first lap. it's a different ballgame over there..."

- Wendy Simms (Kona) finished ninth. "I just lost the chase group when I made a little bobble, and it was right before the windy section. I was riding strong, but just couldn't close the gap. I'm also starting slower this season, building up a little better for a long important season."

- Georgia Gould maybe be nigh unbeatable in North America, but Houffalize will be her first ever European World Cup. "I'm really excited to race there against the fastest riders in the world. Really, I have no expectations going into it.

- Rocky Mountain-Haywood riders Max Plaxton and Seamus McGrath were not happy with their 10th and 22nd (respectively) results. "It was pathetic" said McGrath. "Sometimes you just have a period when you are not going well, and that is what has happened to me. I was pleased to get on the podium at least once this weekend (Time Trial), but I don't want to make any excuses."

Plaxton came in with strong form, after being on the podium for the Time Trial (and winning the Pan Am Espoir title). "I'm very disappointed; I've never had a good XC at Sea Otter, I guess it doesn't suit me. I was always just behind the front group, I tried so hard to join them, but I was in no mans land and it hurt too much so I had to drop back."

- Sauser knew he had to drop Kabush to have any chance of winning. "I knew my chance was quite small if it came to a sprint. I really tried to break away, and Peraud attacked as well, but we couldn't get away. Once we got on the (pavement) it was like a track race as we slowed right down. But this builds confidence for me for next week, because I have never finished in the top-5 here before."

Sauser also made a prediction for Houffalize: "It will be (Julien) Absalon for sure."

- We ran into Chris Sheppard, who let us know that he will be getting married to April Lawyer in August. The couple live in Bend, Oregon. Congratulations, Chris!

- One final note: a special shout out to Norco for providing a large umbrella for me to cower under in the rain and continue to shoot the Short Track yesterday


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