Lloyd and Ortenblad Conquer the Bumpy Lobster Cup
30 August 2015
The Lobster Cup pulled off an outstanding opening to the NorCal Nevada cyclocross season with this Bonny Doon race. Day-of registrations swelled the ranks of early races and there were over 20 cars in the parking lot over an hour before the first race was even set to begin. Eventually the lot swelled to capacity as nearly 300 racers competed across the various categories throughout the day; an impressive achievement for an August start to the cyclocross calendar.
Both the Men’s and Women’s Elite races had top racers in the field. Many sported the kit of their new teams: Karen Brems for Sun Power Alto Velo and Scott Chapin and Justin Robinson for Santa Cruz Bikes were some of the notable changes. After all was said and done, Cal Giant racers Rachel Lloyd and Tobin Ortenblad were the cream on top after winning their respective races.
The morning started overcast with bouts of heavy mist but the clouds were eventually separated by the sun. The afternoon brought on very warm conditions for the Elite races on the flat, purpose-built, 2-mile course. Conditions were very bumpy and dusty, as is the norm for the region this time of year, and the racers contended with log barriers, a section of pump track, berms, a 30m-long pit with first coarse gravel and then finer sand, a table-top jump, a flyover bridge, and technical single-track in tree-covered sections. It was a busy, full course with little opportunity to rest. The dust made it precarious during the early laps of races as log barriers became obscured and difficult to visually pick up at race-speed.
Log Barrier Wins the Race for Lloyd
Caroline Dezendorf (Rock Lobster) grabbed the early lead off the front row of a strong field of Elite Women. Approaching the gravel and sand pit for the first circuit, Dezendorf had several bike lengths on Caro Gomez-Villafañe (Muscle Milk). Brems sat two bikes behind Gomez-Villafañe, followed on her wheel by Lloyd. Campbell Steers (Rock Lobster), Katie Styer (Jortz), and Kelly Chang (Rock Lobster) tussled for position close behind.
“I got off to a really slow start,” remarked Lloyd. “Caroline [Dezendorf] had a great start and got a gap. I don’t know, first race in 7 months and standing around for a while at the start, my legs were super sluggish. I just thought that’s OK, I have to warm up and catch them but it was lot harder to catch Dezendorf than I thought.”
It would become one of Dezendorf’s impressive cyclocross races as the new Rock Lobster rider stayed with the 20th place finisher at last January’s World Championships, regardless of the stage of the season. “Oh yeah, she gave me a race for my money,” continued Lloyd. “At one point when I caught her and was sitting on her she asked ‘Are you sitting on my wheel?’ And I said ‘yes, I’m sitting on your wheel. I’m dying here.'” On the flat course with no time to rest, Dezendorf gave no quarter to Lloyd.
“I couldn’t drop her,” admitted Lloyd. “I gave a few half-hearted attacks to see if I could ride her off my wheel but I just wasn’t feeling it today. I don’t know if it was the heat or what. I couldn’t let up she was right there. On the second log I jumped it and got a 10 foot gap. I knew that she was off the bike so I tried to put space between us and hold it.”
With two laps remaining, Lloyd had enough of a gap and the outcome remained in tact. Lloyd took the win by 3 seconds in a tough preparation for UCI racing at Ellison Park Cyclocross (Rochester, NY, 4-6 September). The Cal Giant rider admitted she was a little uneasy about her situation but will adopt a wait and see position. Lloyd will also represent herself, her team, and the NorCal Nevada region at the CrossVegas World Cup.
The Big Boys Play
With a winning margin well over three and a half minutes, Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant) had an easier time in the Elite Men’s race, although the early going was challenging. Rock Lobster racers Drew Juliano and Max Judelson were the early pace setters before Ortenblad assumed the lead. Behind in the field were also the likes of Scott Chapin and Justin Robinson, racers for the new Santa Cruz Bikes Factory Team.
“The first barrier we came into really fast,” described Ortenblad, “and there was a really sketchy dismount. It was dusty and you couldn’t see the barrier. I didn’t even see the second barrier on the straight-away. I just jumped over at the last second. I almost plowed my front wheel into it. The first lap was dusty and the logs were dirt brown and dusty.”
Once the field began to spread apart, racing took on some entertainment with hand ups and spectacular jumps over the table-top. Still, Ortenblad had to run his race and escape the direct attention of the Rock Lobster duo.
“I knew if they were up [front] they would be working together,” continued Ortenblad, “so, I figured if I could drill it into the headwind without them on my wheel they would be hurting just as bad or more. I kept it rolling hard and eventually broke the elastic. The first two or three laps I really had to stay on it.”
Judelson and Juliano held their own battling each other for second place. As the laps drew down, Juliano worked a small gap for himself to take sole possession away from Judelson. But misfortune would have its say with less than two laps remaining in the race. A broken derailleur scuppered his race and, as he shouldered his bike, Juliano had to watch Judelson take back second place for good just after the gravel-sand pit. From looking at a podium finish, and being pleased with his early season fitness, Juliano had to settle for a position outside the top five.
The Santa Cruz Factory Team riders were elevated into a battle for the last step of the podium, after Juliano’s mechanical failure. The big, former Cal Giant Masters racer had won the Master Men’s race earlier in the day, holding off a challenge from Ana Flores (Cal Giant Masters). Robinson controlled that race and saved enough to gain the 9 seconds on Chapin for the third place finish. Muscle Milk’s Sean Estes took fifth and a place in the podium photograph.
Ortenblad moves east next to Rochester before returning for the West Sac Grand Prix and CrossVegas. When asked about being one of two regional racers to compete at the World Cup in Nevada, Ortenblad replied “It’s super, super cool. There are not a lot of people that never get that opportunity and be from such a small community. It’s awesome.”
1. Rachel Lloyd (Cal Giant), 51m00s
2. Caroline Dezendorf (Rock Lobster), +3 secs.
3. Caro Gomez-Villafañe (Muscle Milk/Specialized), +2m18s
4. Karen Brems (SunPower Racing/Alto Velo), +3m14s
5. Campbell Steers (Rock Lobster), +4m7s
6. Kelly Chang (Rock Lobster), +6m32s
7. Katie Styer (Team Jortz), +6m58s
8. Katrin Tobin (Family Cycling), +8m37s
9. Shelly Monroe (IBIS/Buy-cell.com), +9m4s
10. Erin Stone (Vive la Tarte), +10m3s
11. Audrey Biehle (Dirt Birds), +1 lap
12. Rebecca Wolski (Team Roaring Mouse), +1 lap
1. Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized)
2. Max Judelson (Rock Lobster)
3. Justin Robinson (Santa Cruz Bikes Factory Racing)
4. Scott Chapin (Santa Cruz Bikes Factory Racing)
5. Sean Estes (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
6. Alex Work (Rock Lobster)
7. Erik Kristianson (Specialized)
8. Andrew Juliano (Rock Lobster)
9. Charles Christainsen (TCBxLOW)
10. Ben Gomez-Villafañe (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
11. Stephen Quay (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
12. Sam Cerruti (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
13. Scott Hooper (Real Wheels)
14. Fred Cauthen (Fresh Air-Hunter Cycles)
15. Matt Young (Roaring Mouse)
16. Chris Atkinson (Palo Alto Bicycle)
17. Ryan Gallagher (TCBxLOW)
18. Gabriel Byrne (Dolore Grotta)
19. Billy Arlow (Bagel Dog)
20. Brad Handel (Fresh Air-Hunter Cycles)
21. Mark Tingwald (UC Santa Cruz)
22. Dean Pogni (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
23. Jason Snovel (HiFi Wheels)
24. Aidan Malmberg (Family Cycling Center)
25. Jim Gentes (Buy-Cell/IBIS)
26. Christopher Kelly (nourishbalancethrive.com)
27. Andres Ruiz (TCBxLOW)
28. Ramon Jacquez (TCBxLOW)
29. Justin Abbott (Rock Lobster)
30. Kyle Ng (Fresh Air-Hunter Cycles)
31. Chris Seymour (Santa Cruz Bicycles)
32. Mitch Rohrer (Team City Sacramento)
33. Dean Poshard (Rock Lobster)