IRVINE, Calif. (VN) — With temperatures nearing 85 degrees and the added bonus of daylight, day 2 of the Spooky Cross would offer a drier track and a little more insight to the racers on the whereabouts of their competitors on the course than Saturday evening’s late-night event. Simply being able to see the course more clearly was also an advantage.
Mani takes the Spooky Cross mantle
French national champion Caroline Mani (CC-Etupes) snagged the holeshot ahead of Teal Stetson-Lee (Cal-Giant Cycling Team) and Sue Butler (River City Bicycles-Ridley).
The three stuck together for the first half of the lap, and Stetson-Lee took the lead around the slippery off camber corner leading up to the flyover.
But by the time the three approached the start of lap 2, Mani had pulled away from Stetson-Lee with a 2-second advantage, and Stetson-Lee ahead of Butler with a 2-second advantage. Chloe Forsman (Race Club 11) was holding fourth riding in pace with Devon Haskell Gorry (Rambuski Law).
Teal wouldn’t fall victim to her self-proclaimed sloppiness from the day before, which caused her to fall off the lead and left her chasing.
“OK, I’m gonna keep smooth and I knew that would make a big difference.” It seemed her smoothness would pay off in the long run.
At the start of lap 3, Mani began to stretch the elastic even further, and the small gaps grew into comfortable margins. Stetson-Lee chased hard.
“Mani, she throws down a pace that’s hard to chase down, so I’m going to be watching her,” said Stetson-Lee. “Hopefully at some point she’ll be watching me!”
Gorry charged ahead of Forsman, who looked strong, but Forsman just wasn’t able to match Gorry’s charge in “the steeplechase of cycling.”
“I have a good advantage coming from a running background,” says Gorry, who ran track and steeplechase in college.
With three laps to go, Mani had an 8-second lead, and it was apparent the Frenchwoman would grab her second win of the weekend. Behind her, things looked solid. Stetson-Lee had a comfortable lead on Butler.
Butler was tapped. “I couldn’t go,” she said. “I was, like, ‘OK, bye Teal, see ya later!’”
In spite of how she felt, Butler was staving off Gorry and Forsman.
Meanwhile, local favorite Alison Mann (Rock ‘n’ Road Cyclery) was making her move from seventh to sixth finally passing Jennifer Gaertner (Team Rambuski Law), and had even gained a few seconds on fifth place Forsman. It seemed as if Mann might be able to just catch Forsman, but as she was just returning to racing after injured time off, the strain of her efforts was beginning to show.
With one lap to go, Mani had a solid 10-second lead on the rest of the field and there was no change in the final podium. Stetson-Lee landed second, Butler third, Gorry in fourth and Forsman held on to fifth.
Mani wasn’t bothered by the heat. “It was hot out there, but I didn’t have time to stop for water.”
“It was a good race. I really enjoyed this race, it was a good weekend!”
Take 2 for Trebon
The men were off shortly after the women, and the field was antsy to get underway. U.S. champion Todd Wells (Specialized) nailed the holeshot and led the charge into the first set of grassy straightaways.
As the pack approached the first set of barriers, Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) flexed his muscle and took the lead with Wells, Cody Kaiser (Cal-Giant Cycling Team), Jake Wells (Stan’s No Tubes), Brian Lopes (Oakley) in chase. The second chase group of Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus), Ben Berden (Ops Ale – Stoemper) and Allen Krughoff (Boulder Cycle Sport) was right behind.
At the run-up, Wells had jumped ahead of Trebon, and it seemed the two were in synch and working together. Lopes, Kaiser and Jake Wells were on the heels of the pair.
The second lap was the fastest of the weekend at 5 minutes and 5 seconds. And Trebon and Todd Wells came through the start/finish with a small gap on the Lopes group, which had picked up Jones.
By the time the men reached the run-up on lap 2, Trebon and Wells had stretched their lead to 5 seconds. On Berden and Jones with Kaiser and Lopes right on pace.
Lap 3 saw Trebon and Wells holding steady with Berden chasing hard in third. Jones was staving off Kaiser — and the top 5 were stretched across the course with the rest of the field falling farther back.
At seven laps to go, Trebon was hammering out of the saddle with Wells holding his wheel comfortably. Berden had dropped back to 11 seconds with Jones just 4 seconds behind and clearly planning to make a move on the Belgian. Kaiser was left in no man’s land, but stayed strong in his podium position.
The sand pit was taking its toll on the riders. At 100 feet long and 8 inches deep, riders were faced with a cement lip that they used to launch themselves into the deep sand. Few were able to ride as far as Berden, who only had to run the final few feet. Even the nation’s top mountain bikers were able to only ride about half way through.
And the sand pit would provide the catalyst for Trebon’s big move.
“Down that long pavement leading into the sand pit,” Trebon made his move, he said. “I got in to the sand and accelerated the whole way.”
Trebon hit the sand pit first and at the exit took his 10-foot lead to the pavement descent and never looked back.
Trebon finished a clear first place with Wells. Ben Berden held on for third, Chris Jones fourth and Cody Kaiser in fifth.
“This is the best SoCal ‘cross course I’ve ever done,” said Trebon of the dry, dusty course. The heat wasn’t much of a bother to Trebon. “
“It is hot, but it’s going to get really cold soon. I’m working on my tan a bit.”
Todd Wells felt stronger on day 2. “Yesterday, on every corner I would lose two or three bike lengths when Trebon or Berden would accelerate and today I was able to stay on the wheel, accelerate a little bit better.”
Even though the two worked together, Wells conceded to Trebon.
“Trebon was killing me in the beginning, and I was just able to hang on and in the middle he slowed down and I thought maybe the heat was starting to get to him.”
“Todd and I have been racing together for a few years. Todd isn’t the guy to sit on a wheel,” according to Trebon. “He wants to go out there and race hard and work too. He was helping out when he could.”
But the attack right before the sand pit put Wells in difficulty, and he wasn’t able to bring Trebon back.
“I felt good, I knew I had a little bit more,” said Trebon.
- 1. Ryan TREBON, (USA), in 1:01:35
- 2. Todd WELLS, (USA), in 1:01:47
- 3. Ben BERDEN, (BEL), in 1:02:05
- 4. Christopher JONES, (USA), in 1:02:11
- 5. Cody KAISER, (USA), in 1:04:02
- 1. Caroline MANI, (FRA), in 41:22
- 2. Teal STETSON-LEE, (USA), in 41:52
- 3. Susan BUTLER, (USA), in 42:35
- 4. Devon HASKELL, (USA), in 42:55
- 5. Chloe FORSMAN, (USA), in 42:58