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Sea Otter 2006 – Women\’s Road Race – Biovail, Victory Brewing Reports

April 10, 2006 – Here are some team reports from this weekend’s Sea Otter Classic:

Biovail Report

by Anne Samplonius

After a week of rain in California and a rainy night the eve of the race, it was a surprise to find blue skies and sunshine the morning of the Sea Otter circuit race. Representing Team Biovail at Sea Otter on Saturday April 8th were Anne Samplonius and Gabriela Gonzalez-Ferrat. This year the stage race format was altered to a one-day race on the famous Laguna Seca motor race circuit with a tough little 300 ft “butt-kicker” of a climb and the well-known corkscrew descent. The women were to complete 22 laps on this 3.6km loop; a fast course with wide, sweeping corners where the real toll was the steep climb each lap.

As in previous years, it was a race of attrition as the course claimed its victims, especially with 4 mountain sprint points in addition to 4 other sprints on the start/finish line as the battle for the mountain and sprint jersey was contested. Victory Brewing was content to set up Laura Yoisten for the sprints and Webcor had the same intentions for Felicia Gomez on the mountain points with the only other major team, Colavita, content to keep the field together for their ace sprinter, Tina Pic. The absence of Team Lipton (they had 2 representatives in the race) to throw a wrench into the other “Big 3″ teams’ plans was noticeable and it was with ease that Victory Brewing secured the sprint jersey with great teamwork to set up Yoisten, and Gomez proved no match on the mountain points, setting up the battle for the final piece of the pie, the race win.

Webcor tried in vain to shake Pic with both Thorborn and Willock attacking on the climb. Thorborn did cause the most panic in the Colavita ranks but an attentive Pic was never far behind and numerous times had work-horse Bausch and Tillotson to bring things back together.

On the second to last time up the climb Thorborn gave it one last effort causing a small group to split off the front with Pic and Bausch from Colavita, Samplonius from Team Biovail and Hobson from Victory Brewing amongst the riders to make the break. However, there was no concerted effort from the leaders as having Pic there neutralized any ambitions to keep the group away. The peloton swept up the leaders just before the start of the last lap and it appeared Colavita had achieved their game plan. Bausch and Tillotson delivered Pic to another well-earned victory, with Victory’s Franges and Colavita’s Bausch rounding out the top 3. Anne’s solid 8th placing gives Team Biovail more reason to believe that this is going to be a very exciting season. Stay tuned for more race reports to come.

Victory Report
by Kirsten Robbins

In previous years the Sea Otter classic has been known for its three-event stage race, chilly wet conditions, and the excitement of the cycling industry expo. This year the classic will still be remembered for its industry expo but the differences are in the single event circuit race around the Laguna Seca raceway and the beautiful California sunshine.

One of the toughest circuit events on the NRC calendar is the Laguna Seca Raceway. It is a race of attrition each lap where many riders struggle to reach the top of the 700-meters climb with the front group. After the climb the riders scream down a cork screw descent and wind their way back around to the start finish. This year’s race was elevated to 23-laps (81 km). The race involved more strategy than just reaching the finish line first. Inlayed the race was a sprint competition where the women battled for points during four intermediate sprints through the start finish. The race also involved a Queen of the Mountain (QOM) competition where the battle was on for the fastest climber during four climbs.

North American race announcers Dave Toll and Richard Frees deserve more than a keg of Victory Beer for the excitement they drew to the event. They have been the voice of racing during the California season and we are all thankful for their support of women racing. The pair of announcers made it known to the entire expo, sponsors in the cycling industry, and fans the show Victory Brewing was putting on at the Sea Otter Classic.

Specialized has been one of the main supporting sponsors for the Victory Brewing women’s team. Riding the Specialized Designs For Women Ruby Pro, they lit the race from the gun with an early break up the first climb. When the break was brought back the team did not stop there, leading out for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in the first sprint competition. The team also held enough gun power to fire off their climbers for the QOM competition each lap. Sprint after sprint the team placed themselves in contention for the points. The race was also well lit by Webcor who brought a strong climbing team to the event and Colavita with sprinter Tina Pic who would eventually win the race.

With five laps remaining the race picked it up a few more notches as Victory Brewing, Webcor, Colavita, Lipton and more tried desperately to create a break. Lap after lap the front group began to dwindle, as riders fell off the back of the blistering pace. Many attacks where being driven by Victory Brewing and Webcor while Colavita tried to hold the field together for sprinter Tina Pic. On the final lap the teams began to set up their lead-outs with their remaining riders for the final sprint. In the end it was Tina Pic, Lauren Franges, and Dotsie Bausch placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

Victory Brewing swept the sprint competition placing Laura Yoisten, Lauren Franges, and Laura Bowles in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. The team also placed Leigh Hobson in 2nd place for the QOM competition just behind Webcor’s Felica Gomez.

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