It was a toss up as the top guns pulled each other over the course eight times in 20 minutes of hummingbird-speeds whipping around the 180 degree turns not 100 meters after the race starting line with a good crowds on hand.
The lead group consisted of World XC champion Chris Sauser (Sui) Specialized, Stephen Ettinger (USA), Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott 3-Rox and Russel Finsterwald (USA) SRAM for much of the race with a see-saw battle for the lead until it seemed Kabush and Wells would play cat and mouse on the final lap.
Wells was unstoppable, prevailing for win as Kabush fell short at the end settling for fourth. The Specialized winner was generous with his praise of the field as usual on the semi new course which is the second time Sea Otter has opted to bring the race to the crowd with a cyclo-cross feel and mostly asphalt track.
“Don’t think it’s just all road out there, there are some sand hills and technical parts with some singletrack that is treacherous,” Wells told Pedal post-race, “In fact we all slowed down together at one point so as not wipe out before the final kick in.”
Kabush, another multi-victor who won his last year, looked good yo-yoing inside the lead group and was in the mix all day with Wells, his toughest rival and friend, taking his wheel on the last lap. As the victor admitted, “This is not the course where the best rider wins, it’s about early positioning and some luck.”
Other Canadian men fared well included Evan Guthrie in 6th, Derek Zandstra, Marc-Antoine Nadon, and Andrew Watson finishing 12-14th respectively, Kris Sneddon in 21st, Patrick Chartrand in 24th, Marc-Andre Daigle was 31st while Quinn Moberg took 45th and Jordane Gauthier-Beaulieu (Power Watts Nord) finished 54th out of 60 riders.
Vos Wins Another laurel at Pro Women STXC at Sea Otter
Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabobank Liv/Giant, who at only 26 years young has dominated this sport in so many disciplines for so many years, doesn’t seem to be letting up, taking the podium on Friday in the Pro Women’s STXC race that didn’t let up until the last lap.
Vos was in the lead group with her rival Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro) and former STXC winner, Erin Huck (Tokyo Tuesday), Cloe Woodruff (backcountry.com), Mary McConneloug (Kenda) and Canadian Mical Dyck (Stan’s New Tubes) for much of the 20-minute show=stopping race. On the same course as the pro men, Vos was constantly reeled in by Nash who kept on her wheel until shortly after the cowbell rang for the last lap.
Vos’ strategy, which is legendary in its effectiveness, was to pounce on the last lap at the right moment with a scorching pace and running away with the prize. Again, it worked out perfectly as she waited until the last tight turn near the race track and then as the crowd reacted by chanting her name, she hit the pedals hard surging ahead of Nash by 100 meters and never looked back.
Mical Dyck came in 6th as the top Canadian followed by Maghalie Rochette and Haley Smith in 9th and 10th respectively. Karlee Gendron took 13th while Cayley Brooks and Amanda Sin placed 16th and 17th while Cloe Cross (Team Whistler) came in 23rd.
Former Sea Otter STXC champion and fellow Canuck Emily Batty (Trek) did not participate as she and many others are at the opening round of the UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.