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Sea Otter Classic 2006 Preview: NRC Road Circuit Race

April 5, 2006 – As the crowning event of California’s early season road race slate, the newly reformatted Sea Otter Circuit Race, Saturday April, 8, will host many of the country’s top professional and elite road racers on the demanding Laguna Seca circuit. The Sea Otter Classic multi-sport, four-day ‘Celebration of Cycling’ begins on April 6, 2006 at Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, CA.

The NRC Circuit Race will utilize an intense, multi-lap format, sending the racers on 2.3-mile course known for sharp tempo changes and a “death-by-a-thousand-tiny-cuts” paring down of the fields. The NRC Circuit race will wind around the Laguna Seca raceway, with its challenging 300-foot climb leading straight into the hair raising high-speed Corkscrew. This event will showcase pro men’s and women’s teams to thousands of fans all around the track.

The Pro 1/2 Men will tackle the Laguna Seca circuit a leg-breaking 31 times, clocking over 9,000 feet of climbing along the 71-mile route. With a wide open course that favors the pure strong man over mountain goats or sprinters, a race of attrition is all but assured. Coming off several major early season wins, the Health Net presented by Maxxis squad will lead the charge with a duo of pre-race favorites, Gord Fraser and Karl Menzies. Fraser and Menzies both claimed wins in March and the Sea Otter Circuit matches their particular strengths.

However, two Northern California based pro teams, Jelly Belly and Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada, are not likely to cede the Sea Otter to Health Net without a serious challenge. Up-and-coming Bay Area hotshots Ben Jacques-Maynes and Jackson Stewart have led the Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada to some strong early-season results and seem poised for a breakthrough ride as California spring racing draws to a close.

“What makes the Sea Otter circuit race unique is that Laguna Seca is a really difficult course but there are also a lot of tactics in play,” says Jacques-Maynes. “You have to be strong and smart to win there, and Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada is planning on an aggressive, exciting race.”

As well, Jelly Belly sprinter Alex Candelario, another racer with local roots, has shown race winning speed already in 2006 and will certainly poses a real danger in the finale.

The Pro 1/2 Women will turn 22 laps on the Laguna Seca course, for 50 miles of high intensity racing. A deep pool of talent graces the women’s field with most of the country’s fastest women on hand. Team Lipton sprinter Laura Van Gilder and Colavita-Cooking Light’s Tina Pic have proven two of the most versatile riders in the U.S. over the past several years and both will toe the line in Monterey. Olympian Christine Thorburn (Webcor) is the local favorite, riding for a local team and making her home in the Bay Area. A complete rider who excels in small breakaways, Thorburn would benefit from a race that does not end in a bunch sprint. Victory Brewing’s Triple-L trio of Lauren Franges, Laura Yoisten, and Laura Bowles have been the biggest surprise of the 2006 domestic season so far, including as rare podium sweep at the citerium in the San Dimas Stage Race.

The compact course and multi-lap format allows a multitude of great spectating positions. From the pain and effort of the main climb to the speed and excitement of the Corkscrew descent, the Laguna Seca circuit creates a nearly perfect bike racing experience. The women’s race starts at 9 AM and the men’s at 1 PM.

Teams competing:

Women’s Teams:
Team Lipton, Cheerwine, Touchstone Climbing, Velo-Bella Kona, PABW Powered by Tibco, Colavita-Cooking Light, Webcor, McGuire, Victory Brewing

Men’s Teams:
BMC Racing Team, Cal Giant/Village Peddler, Pacific State Bank/Anderson Homes, Monex, Orbea, Health Net presented by Maxxis, Jelly Belly, Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada, Team Spine, Team Rubicon, Team Successful Living Presented by Parkpre

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