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Pendrel and Schurter Take XC Wins at Sea Otter Classic – Report and Photos

release by Sho-Air Cannondale

April 19, 2015   (Monterey, CA) – The legendary Sea Otter Classic made its first appearance in the USA Cycling’s US CUP Presented by Cannondale Mountain Bike Race Series, stepping in as the penultimate round of the five-race series. The marathon-style course of two long laps proved a challenge for many of the world’s elite mountain bike professionals, with Nino Schurter (Scott-ODLO) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) taking the wins.

Pendrel at the finish  ©  Andrew Rogers

Elite Men
The men got things underway on the tarmac of the Laguna Seca raceway under clear skies and a windy but cool 60-plus degrees. A dozen of the world’s top riders formed a selection fairly soon on the opening lap, with a number of youngsters staking their claim with the more established names in mtb racing, notably Howard Grotts, Sam Gaze and Simon Andreasson (all Specialized), Andri Frischknecht (Scott-ODLO), Russell Finsterwald (SRAM 1 TLD) and Keegan Swenson (Sho-Air/Cannondale).

Kabush at the front  ©  Andrew Rogers

This group was stretched and whittled down after the first lep, when Geoff Kabush (Scott 3 Rox) was able to keep the pace set by a surging Schurter, who was admittedly not on his best day. Unfortunately for the group, Nino on a so-so day is stronger than almost any rider in the world. The previous day’s short track winner showed he had enough in the tank for the marathon race, as he hit the singletrack and pushed on alone. He would later be joined by McConnell and Grotts for a final showdown on the track. Taking the final turn towards the line, the multiple-time world champion put everything into his sprint to take a fine victory in front of a delighted crowd.

Schurter takes the win over Grotts and McConnell   ©  Ridebiker Alliance

“The first lap was quite slow and we were a big group,” said Schurter. “Kabush helped me get to the front on the second lap. I attacked and got away a bit on the singletrack and got caught by McConnell and Grotts. The end was a three-up sprint that went well… great racing! It’s a good way to finish my American trip! My next race is a Bundesliga race in Heubach, a tough race with a lot of climbing, so I’m looking forward to that as well.”

Men's podium  ©

Canadian Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain), who has already had a solid spring, grabbed the final podium spot in 5th while fellow Canuck Adam Morka (Trek Canada) came in 9th at 15 seconds behind Gagne. Kabush, who has won this event three times, crossed the line in 11th admitting that he still hasn’t found his legs yet, but he’s happy to work for teammates like Schurter. “I’m finding my legs again, but I’m happy to help put Nino on the podium – a great victory for us at Scott.”

Raphael Gagne  ©  Ridebiker Alliance
Elite Women
The women’s field took off twenty minutes after the men for two laps of the same loop. Many of the usual names were present in the lead group of seven as they went through the first lap with Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) in the lead. The decisive race action took place on the second time up the main climb, as Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) pushed hard with Pendrel on her wheel.

Henderson leading Pendrel  ©  Andrew Rogers

This forced the main selection which would tear the group apart steadily throughout the lap, leaving the top riders spread apart about thirty seconds from each other at the finish. Pendrel came across first, followed by Henderson, Jenny Rissveds (Scott-ODLO), Chloe Woodruff (Stan’s NoTubes-Niner) and series leader Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing).

Women's podium  ©  Ridebiker Alliance

“Rebecca {Henderson} was first wheel and was setting a hard pace on the second time up the climb and I heard something behind us,” said Pendrel. “Emily was with us for a while but slipped off so we went for it. It was nice and cool out there today compared to Bonelli and Fontana so that was nice. Sea Otter is such a cool event. It’s great to see the kids out there on bikes, to see all our sponsors and to put on such a good show for the fans… I love it!”

Emily Batty  ©  Ridebiker Alliance

Canada’s Maghalie Rochette (Luna) showed confidence and grit as did Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) – both at 22 years old – finishing 18th and 19th respectively while Elyse Nieuwold (Holiday Inn Express & Suites) was 22nd and Mical Dyck (Stans No Tubes) finished 23rd. Cloe Cross (Team Whistler), who turned pro here, and turned 31  last year, came in 27th. Karlee Gendron (Trek Red Truck Racing) placed 36th, Katlyn Dundas (Wolfpak Racing) finished 42nd and Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau (Rocky Mountain Factory Team) was 44th.

USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series standings
After round four of the USA Cycling US Cup presented by Cannondale series, Gagne solidified his lead with a solid performance, while Batty stays in the lead in the womens’ series ahead of Pendrel by just ten points (provisional). The USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series will continue with round 5, a UCI Category HC race, in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Saturday, June 27.

Results here.

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