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15th Annual Sea Otter
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 4/15/2005
15th Annual Sea Otter
 
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Health Net continues its Juggernaut at Sea Otter. Gord Fraser, Chris Wherry dominate the TT with Kiwi Godfrey third. In the Ladies TT Armstrong, Kristin that is, leads with Teutenberg and Blickem 2nd and 3rd. Super X dominated by Dunlap and Brentjens.

 

Record Crowds and Sunshine greet combatants at 15th Annual Sea

An International Field Saw Winners From Holland, Canada And The USA
On The Top Step Of The Podium In The Four Pro Events Held.

Monterey, California: The 15th annual Sea Otter Classic opened Thursday under sunny skies and record crowds at Laguna Seca Raceway, with the start of the Pro/Elite Mountain Bike (MTB) Stage Race and the Sierra Nevada/Kodak Easyshare Gallery Professional Road Stage Race.

Defending champion Alison Dunlap (USA - Luna) of Colorado Springs was the first winner of the day, in the women's Super XC stage of the Mountain Bike Stage Race. The 60 minute timed event saw an elite group of 15 riders break away from the field halfway into the race. Joining Dunlap were three-time world champion Alison Sydor (CAN - Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) and two-time Olympian Lyne Bessette (CAN - Louis Garneau), a former road winner at the Sea Otter Classic, who decided to switch from road to the fat tire circuit this season.  The group stayed together to the finish, with Dunlap attacking out of the final bend to hold off Sydor and Bessette.

In the men's Super XC, it was 1996 Olympic champion Bart  (NED - Giant Racing Team) who donned the leader's jersey at the end of 60 minutes, after a daring solo breakaway at the halfway point in the race.  While the rest of the leaders hesitated, Brentjens opened up a slim 20 second lead, which dropped to as little as 8 seconds when the chasers organized themselves. However, just when it looked like Brentjens was about to be reeled in, the chasers backed off, with no one willing to set the pace.  Brentjens crossed the finish line 38 seconds in front of 11 chasers, with Switzerland's Florian Vogels (SWI - Swiss Power) pipping Australian Sid Taberley (AUS - Specialized) for second in the sprint.

In the afternoon, attention shifted to the Sierra Nevada/Kodak Easyshare Gallery UCI Road Stage Race, which opened with a short but intense sprint around the Laguna Seca Speedway.  The two mile long, individually timed stage saw riders leave at 30 second intervals, with the best time determining who would wear the leader's jersey at the end of the day.

Tina Pic, of Dalhonega Georgia appeared to win the women's race with the fastest time, however, 90 minutes after the stage she was relegated to fourth place after it was determined by officials that she had "jumped the gun" at her start.  With a one second penalty applied to Pic, Kristin Armstrong (USA - T-Mobile Professional Racing Team) of Boise, Idaho was bumped up to first and was awarded the leader's jersey.  Her professional T-Mobile team mate Ina Teutenberg (GER - T-Mobile Professional Racing Team) moved into second, and Candice Blickem (USA - Quark) from Albuquerque, New Mexico took third.

Canadian Gord Fraser (CAN - Health Net-Maxxis), riding for the professional Health Net-Maxxis squad, beat his team mate Chris Wherry (USA - Health Net-Maxxis) of Boulder, Colorado by less than one second to take the lead in the men's race.  Last year's winner, Hayden Godfrey (NZL - Kodak EasyShare Gallery/Sierra Nevada) of New Zealand, finished third.

The Sea Otter Classic the largest, most celebrated cycling festival and exposition in North America, continues on Friday with the mountain bike time trial and a 60 mile circuit race on the Laguna Seca Speedway for the Sierra Nevada/Kodak Gallery UCI Road Stage Race.

Women's Super XC
1st Alison Dunlap
2nd Alison Sydor
3rd Lyne Bessette

1st Alison Dunlap, "For the sprint I didn't want to get stuck on the inside, and my legs felt really good, so I decided to try early.  I think I took everybody by surprise.  The (10 second) time bonus is important, so it was good to get the win."

2nd Alison Sydor "I was in a bit of a wrong spot for the sprint, sitting in third.  The rider I was following didn't accelerate, so when Alison (Dunlap) jumped I couldn't get on her wheel fast enough."

"It was a unique race today, because of the nature of the course, and the (gusty) wind.  Because of that it was a tactical race."

3rd Lyne Bessette "Sea Otter has been good for me in the past (Bessette has won the road stage race previously).  I was happy with my performance today, I wanted to just get into the race, open up my legs and get a feel for the group.  I have a lot of experience with stage races, so this was just a chance to test things out."

Men's Super XC
1st Bart Brentjens
2nd Florian Vogels
3rd Sid Taberley

1st Bart Brentjens "It was a hard decision to go away so early – it was terrible the last two laps with all the wind but I was able to stay ahead and keep my lead though."
"Everyone did a little work but with one lap to go I thought that 20 seconds was enough to finish with."
Bart commented on team strategy with teammate, Adam Craig "We didn't have any discussion about any tactics for this race. I did the Cape Epic (in South Africa) last week and that prepared me for this but the first day is always the most important."

2nd Florian Vogels (Swiss Power) "The Sea Otter Classic is pretty famous – even in Europe. I dreamed about being here and to get 2nd place in the first stage is everything."
"We have a lot of short races in Europe so I'm used to stuff like this. I also do cyclocross in winter, which is good training for races like this."
"I don't think I can win this weekend. Bart Brentjens is really fast; Thomas Frischknecht is really fast. I don't think I can win the cross country but I want to see how well I can do."

3rd Sid Taberley  "I was best coming into the finish. I knew I had to stay at the front and stay inside going into the turns if I wanted to maintain my place."
"This is the kind of race where you've only got to be hurting for an hour."

Sierra Nevada/Kodak Gallery UCI Road Stage Race - Prologue

Women
1st Kristin Armstrong
2nd Ina Teutenberg
3rd Candice Blickem

1st Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) "I think the time bonus for tomorrow's race will be crucial. The race on Saturday will be really hard so we need to set it up well with the race tomorrow."
"One of the biggest differences to the team this year is Ina, we've never had a sprinter before. This season has been really fun with Quark, Webcor and T-Mobile battling it out in each race. There's not one dominating team this year, we actually have tactics to get away."
"I got scared on a couple corners and braked a little, with such a short race you're bound to make mistakes."

2nd Ina Teutenberg "I guess we won so that's something."
"They say that the ballsiest person will win the race but once you go downhill, you still need a lot of power to finish the race."

3rd Candice Blickem (Albuquerque, New Mexico) "I love wind, especially when I'm racing mostly because nobody else likes it. You get blown around pretty bad on this course but I train where it's windy so it's not so bad."

Under 23 winner Lauren Franges (USA) "From what I heard, second through fifth was tied with a time of 3:04 and with something like that, it makes me think, 'What could I have done to be a couple tenths faster?'"
"I'm really comfortable on my time-trial bike, I love the feel and it was the right choice. I rode the course a couple times this morning so I'd know what my line would be but the wind really picked up this afternoon and you end up second-guessing your choice of bike."

Men’s Results:
1st Gord Fraser
2nd Chris Wherry
3rd Hayden Godfrey

U23 Results:

  1. Sterling Magnell

Gord Fraser "If you realize you have a chance to do well you have to take that opportunity and it just worked out for me today."
"It is such a short time trial, you have to really focus; it's easy to lose a tenth of a second here, a tenth there ... and that's all it takes.  I don't often have a chance to be competitive in a time trial, so I when I do get a chance, I take it pretty seriously."

2nd Chris Wherry (Health Net-Maxxis) "I mean I guess you just put down the power for the time trial. I ate a few PowerBars before the race so I could gain weight and get downhill faster, but that didn’t work.”
"This race is really important for Health Net. Health Net is based in the Bay Area and it’s important for us to make a strong showing for Sea Otter."
"We really haven’t sat down and talked about the race. Saturday will be really hard so I expect tonight the team will discuss the races for the rest of the event."

3rd Hayden Godfrey

"I was hoping to do something similar to last year but it was really windy from the start."
"Such a short race you have to go hard from the start, you can hold back anything."

Under 23 winner Sterling Magnell "It starts out really fast and I almost went off course in the first corner."
"Having something like winning the U23 race show up on your resume is really important to sponsors."

Health Net Report courtesy of Jeff Sobul:

The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis continued its domination of the opening prologues of the California stage races. After taking the top four places in the prologue of the San Dimas Stage Race and the top two at the Redlands Classic, the team once again occupied the top two spots to open Sea Otter.

Gord Fraser won the 3 km time trial down the infamous Corkscrew on the back side of the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey. Teammate Chris Wherry, who won the opening prologue as well as the overall title at the Pool Gel Redlands Classic two weeks ago, finished second today.

After suffering through the Redlands Classic with the flu, Fraser is starting to see his form return. “I was confident I could win today,” Fraser said. “I’ve done the time trial in its various incarnations in this race four or five times, so I’m very familiar with the circuit. The combination of confidence and familiarity contributed to the win today.”
With two difficult days remaining in the race, Fraser likes the position the team holds, with strong all-arounders Wherry and Mike Jones both high up in the standings.

“We have a lot of cards to play,” he said. “We aren’t going to use one particular tactic. I think we’re going to see how the race evolves and make our decisions as we go.”

Though his form is good coming out of Redlands and he’s a strong time trialist, Wherry was still a bit surprised to end up on the podium of a race suited to power riders. Backing Wherry’s point is the fact that Hayden Godfrey (Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada), a track specialist and 2004 Olympian for New Zealand, finished third today. A year ago, Godfrey won this prologue while riding for Health Net Presented by Maxxis.

The Sea Otter Classic continues Friday with the 60-mile Laguna Seca Circuit Race, which covers 27 laps of the famed course that includes 300 feet of climbing per lap.

About Sea Otter Classic LLC
Sea Otter Classic LLC specializes in promoting outdoor sports festivals. The company’s premier property is the Sea Otter Classic Cycling Festival, now in its 15th year. The festival will be held April 14-17, 2005 at Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California. The company’s newest sports festival is the 2nd annual Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic. This event, co-produced with Infineon Raceway, will be held September 9-11, 2005 at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California. The Cypress Youth Fund, Sea Otter Classic's philanthropic arm, provides funding to organizations that benefit their communities in the areas of Youth, Sport, Education, or Environment. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com, or by calling (650) 364-7612.
Sea Otter is sponsored by SRAM, Sierra Nevada, Kodak EasyShare Gallery, Clif, SIDI, Easton

 
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