Sagebrush Sees Larson and Young Earn More Impressive Results
19 October 2015
The Sagebrush Cyclocross Series continues to reflect cyclocross is a growing sport for the region. This past Sunday, the small but strong series hosted very close to 100 hundred race entries including a number of first-time ‘cross racers. The day saw excellent displays of racing across the board particularly by three comparative newcomers to the sport. Kara LaPoint (Team Luna) and Julie Young (Reno Wheelmen) went head-to-head for a terrific battle in the race for Women’s A. Later in the day, Mike Larson (Velo Reno) hammered an impressive win for Men A.
Archie Clayton Middle School is one of those venues with an advocate that welcomes cyclocross events on the grounds. The site hosted the 2010 district championships and is an ever-present in the Sagebrush CX Series. Yesterday’s course took every advantage of the terrain and elevation changes available at the locale. The start was a slight uphill paved road that, after running through a stair run-up, spilled out between hard-packed sand and grass. The latter in places was often deep and power-sapping from the overnight rains. Portions of the course ran through the school’s playground including a wood-chip section amongst the swings and climbing wall.
A long stretch of sand brought racers over two closely spaced plank barriers after first turning them through a 180° turn and then returning them back to the same direction through another sharp turn. At the start of the day, the sand was loose on top but otherwise firm. As the day wore on, the dismount, running, and re-mount sections tore up and became very loose. To add to the challenges, there were off-camber sections on grass including a sharp-170 and a fast length with a forced jog down and then back uphill to run between trees. With the fastest lap times around 5 minutes, racers had to hold their concentration to traverse the course several times for the durations of their races.
Raising the Game
Before the Women’s A race began, the anticipation of a head-to-head struggle between LaPoint and Young was palpable. After their renown in other disciplines and sports, road for Young and mountain bikes and triathlon for LaPoint, this season both riders introduced themselves well to the NorCal Nevada cyclocross community. LaPoint took a win at Sagebrush Hidden Valley with Young winning the two SacCX races to date following category wins at West Sac and CrossReno. Both were competing in their fifth ‘cross race with just the SacCX Maidu Park race their only race with both on the course at the same time. On that day, LaPoint suffered a mechanical so it came down to the Sagebrush meet as the next opportunity to pit these two strong competitors against each other.
The bicycle racing calibre of Young and LaPoint is definitely improving the competition amongst the region’s top Women racers and also improving the game of others in the field. Kim Vandersyde (Reno Wheelmen) put in an excellent race and was on the wheel of second place early. She was always within striking distance of the leaders and kept herself in a position to take advantage of any mishap. Though Young and LaPoint kept control of their bikes, and avoided any misfortune, the reward for Vandersyde was the capture of third step on the podium.
Young and LaPoint were up front early and exchanged the lead between themselves for the first half of the race. The fast pace may have taken some toll but both racers clearly put in strong efforts wrestling each other over the lead. At her SacCX wins, Young was patient and attacked late in the race. The same would happen at the Clayton venue as the former national team road racer broke away from LaPoint in the second half of the race to take the win. With few cyclocross races under her belt, Young acknowledged this one was tough.
“The course was great,” remarked Young,” those guys were super creative using all the different features in this park. The grass was really challenging and heavy. It’s the first real cyclocross race I’ve done in terms of the conditions being so challenging.
“That was super fun having Kara [LaPoint] push the pace. The first four laps she really pushed it. We saw five to go and that’s when I passed her on the stairs. I tried to set a hard pace and when I noticed I had a gap I tried to maintain that.”
“Go as hard as you can!”
As with the Women’s A race, it was a small field lined up at the start for Men A with some strong competitors. Curtis Smith (Real Wheels) has seen the podium along with top-five finishes this calendar year and Steve Ouzounian (Dolore Grotto) is a top competitor in Masters races. Teenager Bailey Eckles (SoCal Cross) was in the field and a definite threat for the future as he was on this day. But it was to be Mike Larson’s day from the very first lap. The Velo Reno racer exploded out to a quick 10-second gap. Smith was putting in a solid race in second place followed by Eckles in third.
Larson remained relentless and pushed the lead close to 30 seconds by the fourth lap. Ouzounian had moved ahead of Eckles for third at this time but the pair would continue the tussle for the place before the Dolore Grotto racer claimed it for his own late in the race. Smith kept up the fight for the race but eventually crossed the line in second place. With this win, Larson adds to impressive results at CrossReno (first, Open Men) and WestSac (fifth, Open Men) as he looks to gather points and experience to challenge others in the region.
“I’ve always been struggling with the starts on the last couple of races,” said Larson. “So, I really wanted to get a good start. Once I got into the front, if I just set into my own pace and kept to my limit I knew I could hold off. I’ve seen Curtis [Smith] come back really strong at times so the first couple of laps I was still pretty nervous. Anything can happen with ‘cross so I wanted to be sure and stay on it throughout the race. It’s racing and you go as hard as you can.”
1. Julie Young (Reno Wheelmen)
2. Kara LaPointe (Team Luna Pro)
3. Kim Vandersyde (Reno Wheelmen)
4. Paige Galeoto (Reno Wheelmen)
5. Johanna Fogolin (SJBC)
6. Jenny Frayer (Reno Wheelmen)
1. Michael Larson (Velo Reno)
2. Curtis Smith (Real Wheels)
3. Steve Ouzounian (Dolore Grotto)
4. Corey Hanson
5. Timber Weiss (Velo Reno)
6. Bailey Eckles (Socal Cross)
7. Mel Maalouf (Alta Alpina)