Nash and Ortenblad Slay a Cooler WSCXGP
13 September 2015
After an impressively positive inaugural West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix presented by Cederon, last year, the return of this festival was a measure of success for the organizers and in particular for Matt Hargrove. “Individuals of the community come up with bright ideas and just act on them,” said West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. “This is not a City project. We provide some support but this is a result of a set of local and regional volunteers that make something amazing happen. It brings some attention to the community and it brings folks back to the River Walk [Park] but it adds something different. You can’t go anywhere else in the region and see this level of cyclocross. So its a really, really special thing to contribute to the region and add to the urban core here in the Sacramento area.”
With temperatures never approaching the forecast mid-nineties, courtesy of a small breeze and a nearby California wildfire keeping the sun at bay, racers enjoyed modestly more comfortable racing. The day remained overcast with high clouds and smoke. Even so, well prepared organizers saw advantage made of the many amenities in place to combat the anticipated heat.
Well Contested and Eventful Racing
Pete Knudson and Rich Maile set a similar course to last year with small modifications along the elongated layout. Racers contended with plenty of technical sections, a few short changes in elevation, a partially hidden tree root or two, and a good share of off-camber and grass.
Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant/Specialized) fought off challenges from Gavin Haley (Focus) and Lance Haidet (Raleigh-Clement Pro Cycling) to win the Elite Men’s race. In the Elite Women’s race beforehand, Kateřina Nash recovered after being caught up in first lap crash, involving several riders, and eventually pulled away from the field to stand atop the podium.
A Slate of Champions
Several former and current World and National Champions lined up for the Elite Women’s race. Australian Lisa Jacobs (Rapha Focus Australia), fresh of her country’s National Championship win, raced alongside Karen Brems (SunPower Racing) and Kateřina Nash (Luna Pro Team). Yet, for the first lap, local racers Caro Gomez-Villafañe (Muscle Milk/Specialized) and Caroline Dezendorf (Rock Lobster) crossed under the finish line banner out front. Very early in the race Jacobs crashed in one of the corners, losing her chain. Nash and Emily Kachorek (Squid) were likewise affected by this incident leaving Gomez-Villafañe, Dezendorf, Brems, and others to enjoy free reign at the front.
Dezendorf’s season is off to a great start, with podium finishes against impressive competition at the Lobster Cup and Central Coast, but today failed to match those good results. Rolling a tubular ruined her race leaving Gomez-Villafañe continuing with Brems in the lead. By the next lap, Nash, Kachorek, and Jacobs caught the leaders and a competitive race was back on.
“Lisa [Jacobs] had a crash and took me out,” reported Nash. “We were first second and had a little pile up in the early part of the course. I was off to a good start and then dropped back. We both got up quickly and got going. It’s racing so no big deal.
“I had to make an effort to get back to the leaders after the mishap. So then I wanted to rest up a little bit and see how people were riding. Then an opportunity came up. I pushed a little harder and got away.”
Very soon, Nash was pulling away from Gomez-Villfañe as Jacobs got her race back on track from last place and sat third. Kachorek and Brems battled each other for fourth place. Dezendorf managed to fight back up to sixth. The next change in position came with Jacobs getting past Gomez-Villafañe for second but Nash had the measure of the field and amassed a lead that would be difficult to overcome.
“This is my first time on a ‘cross bike after quite some time,” continued Nash. “My last race was Leadville. I just wanted to mainly test myself and get those cyclocross skills again. There was enough cornering, dismounts, and remounts so it was a really good course today and I am glad I came out to Sacramento.
“I was definitely pinning it. I was choosing sections that I wanted keep improving on and opening things out. I was in control of my pace but you never really know how other people will ride. So I was riding hard throughout the entire race.”
Eventually Kachorek would get away from Brems and then take over third place as well. Jacobs took second 37 seconds adrift from Nash and 31 seconds ahead of Kachorek. Gomez-Villafañe remained ahead of Brems for a fourth-place finish. The former multiple World and National Champion cyclist crossed the finish line in a respectable fifth place.
The Elite Men’s race had a fast start and quickly a string of seven racers controlled the front of the field. Tobin Ortenblad, Gavin Haley, Lance Haidet lead this phase of the race along with Cody Kaiser (Lange Twins/Specialized), Michael Larson (Velo Reno), Jonathan Baker (Chico Masters), and Max Judelson (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster).
First to drop away from the leaders was Judelson followed by further disintegration as Kaiser, Baker, and Larson too fell back. Haidet, Haley, and Ortenblad controlled the middle laps of the race keeping together as a trio. As the laps fell away, it was clear the winner would come from one of these three and the final decision would come very late in the race.
Approaching two to go, Haidet put in an attack and gaps appeared between each of the three racers. Ortenblad then responded in kind finally breaking away from Haley and Haidet on the final lap.
“It was really tight for the whole race and pretty tactical,” described Ortenblad. “For a while there I was concerned; I didn’t know how to make my move at any point in the race.
“[Haley] saw that I pulled off the front and thought it would be a good time to go. He gave it a shot and strung it out pretty good. It was too elastic. We would catch each other in the turns and it would string out and we would catch again. I didn’t know how it was going to play out.
“Coming in with one to go I knew if someone attacked and got a gap there would be that moment of the two guys looking around. So I hit it hard going off the cement. It was kind of a road attack to be honest. That got a little gap and the hesitation helped string it out. Than I saw [Haley] snapped it on [Haidet] and got his gap.”
Haley lifted his front wheel crossing the finish line in second place, 24 seconds behind Ortenblad. Haidet crossed in third a further 10 seconds back. Kaiser picked up two positions, from Baker then Larson late in the race, to come home in fourth. The unfortunate Larson lost his podium call-up for fifth place on a scoring error and then failed to question the results during the 15-minute period for protests.
1. Kateřina Nash (Luna Pro team)
2. Lisa Jacobs (Rapha Focus Australia)
3. Emily Kachorek (Squid)
4. Carolina Goemz-Villafañe (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
5. Karen Brems (SunPower Racing)
6. Caroline Dezendrof (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster)
7. Campbell Steers (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster)
8. Kristin Drumm (CX Nation)
9. Emily McDonald (Jakroo Racing)
10. Kelly Chang (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster)
11. Chelsea Weidinger (MASH SF)
12. Jennifer Teerlink (Dirt Birds)
13. Amanda Siegle (Jakroo Racing)
14. Colleen Wanty (Dolore Grotta/Big Swingin’ Cycles)
15. Katie Styer (Team Jortz)
16. Fanny Bourdais
17. Audrey Biehle (Birt Birds)
DNF. Stace Cooper (Blue Collar Bikes)
1. Tobin Ortenblad (Califronia Giant/Specialzied)
2. Gavin Haley (Focus)
3. Lance Haidet (Raleigh-Clement Pro Cycling)
4. Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized)
5. Michael Larson (Velo Reno)
6. Jonathan Baker (Chico Masters)
7. Justin Thomas (Reno Wheelmen)
8. Max Judelson (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster)
9. Sean Haidet
10. Sean Estes (Muscle Milk / Specialized)
11. Scott Hooper (Real Wheels)
12. Zach Heath (HiFi Cycling)
13. Nick Schaffner (Herbalife p/b Marc Pro – Strava)
14. Brendan Lehman (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster)
15. Benjamin Gomez-Villafañe (MuscleMilk/Specialized)
16. Ryan Grenier (Velo Fratello)
17. Curtis Smith (Team BP/Sierra Nevada/Reliable)
18. Dan Hoeppner (Giant Co-Factory)
19. Steve Ouzounian (Dolore Grotta/Big Swingin Cycles)
20. Ryan Gallagher (TCB x LOW)
21. Conner Benton (Metromint)
22. AJ Snovel (Davis Bike Club)
23. Mason Bond (Real Wheels)
24. Chris Namba (BEERxSQUID)
25. Nicholas Terzakis (BEERxSQUID)
26. Robert Terra (Bikes and Bites)
27. Joshua Tipton (Rio Strada Racing)
28. Ryan Gardner (Kona)
29. Justin Bucktrout (Dolore Grotta/Big Swingin Cycles)
30. Erik Vangsnes
31. Patrick Myall (dfL)
32. Anthony Coando (Dolore Grotta/Big Swingin Cycles)