Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label) has been...

Ruts N’ Guts: Mani and Ortenblad triumphant on day two

Unseasonably warm temperatures and strong winds made the racing tactical on Sunday at Ruts N’ Guts, as Caroline Mani and Tobin Ortenblad stood atop the podium.

Caroline Mani (Van Dessel-Atom Composites) won the elite women’s race on day two of the UCI C2 Ruts N’ Guts in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on Sunday, her fourth UCI victory of the season in the U.S. On the men’s side, Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz-Donkey Label) went two-for-two for his ninth UCI win of the season.

The winds were definitely sweeping down the plains in Oklahoma for Sunday’s racing, as temperatures topped 75 degrees on this early-December day. Van Dessel Factory teammates Mani and Sunny Gilbert were at it again Sunday setting the pace. Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Cycles DNA Cycling) soon pried her way between the two halfway into the first lap and sat on Mani for much of the race.

“I was disappointed yesterday. I really wanted to take the win,” said Mani, who finished third in the C1 race at Ruts N’ Guts on Saturday. “And today I just really wanted it. I was smart and felt better, more punchy. I think also I was riding the sand better than my competition, so I think that’s where I got a gap. I was able to maintain and get the gap bigger. I’m happy to win my last race in the U.S. It’s a good finish of the U.S. season.”

Mani and McFadden would do battle at the front for much of the race, both trying to grab the win. McFadden had taken second place in Saturday’s contest.

“I kind of feel like always a bridesmaid, never a bride, you know with second place for the weekend,” McFadden said. “Caroline was riding really strong, and she rode the sand pit, the downhill, significantly smoother than I did. She was able to gain seconds every lap and gap me. I just couldn’t close it down. She was definitely riding a little bit stronger too. I was feeling yesterday’s efforts; I was pretty tired. But I know she definitely got seconds in the sand, and was probably pedaling stronger than I was.”

Gilbert would have her hands full with Saturday’s winner Crystal Anthony (Maxxis Shimano Pro Cyclocross), both looking to grab the final spot on the podium.

“I had a great start. I was just feeling it, I was on,” said Sunny about her fast start to the race. She did hold on to grab third place, one position better than Saturday. “I gave it a little extra kick. It was pretty awesome to come into that mud pit first. I felt like a ballerina going over that mud pit. You know, just ride everything smooth. I biffed it in the sand in the second-to-last lap. It was not pro.”

Anthony would finish over a minute behind Mani in fourth. On the final lap Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective) surged to finish fifth, just nipping Amanda Nauman (SDG-Muscle Monster) at the line.

Elite women top-10

  • 1. Caroline Mani, VAN DESSEL FACTORY TEAM, in 46:20
  • 2. Courtenay Mcfadden, PIVOT CYCLES PB DNA CYCLING, at +00:22
  • 3. Sunny Gilbert, VAN DESSEL FACTORY TEAM, at +00:53
  • 4. Crystal Anthony, MAXXIS SHIMANO PRO CYCLOCROSS, at +01:15
  • 5. Emma Swartz, TREK CYCLOCROSS COLLECTIVE, at +01:26
  • 6. Amanda Nauman, SDG – MUSCLE MONSTER, at +02:03
  • 7. Christa Ghent, AMY D FOUNDATION, at +02:21
  • 8. Allison Arensman, J.A. KING P/B BR’C, at +02:58
  • 9. Erica Zaveta, EASTON GARNEAU, at +03:14
  • 10. Laura Winberry, SPEEDVAGEN FAMILY RACING, at +03:24

Ortenblad wins ninth UCI race of the season

The elite men’s field took to the starting grid with Tobin Ortenblad as the favorite in the field of 36 riders. Unlike Saturday’s race, Sunday was very tight with the lead pack swelling sometimes to a baker’s dozen.

“It was windy today, so the group stuck together a bit more,” said Ortenblad, who is now four-for-four in elite men’s races at Ruts N’ Guts in two years. “There was a tailwind on the start/finish, so it could really come back together every lap. It was a pretty big group for most of the day. It wasn’t super fast. Not all of us were willing to go super hard because of the wind.”

Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co-Groove Subaru) and Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team) were again among the top riders throughout the day, but at three laps to go Werner suffered an untimely mechanical on the far side of the course. Ortenblad and Hecht used the mishap to their advantage and dispatched the others.

“Towards the end there, the last lap, Kerry (Werner) had a mechanical. So it was Gage, Michael van den Ham and I. It wasn’t too crazy on the last lap, it was just pretty steady tempo. I knew it was a long drag, power finish, and I knew that Gage would hurt me really bad if I was there with him. Going into the sand I made sure I was ahead of Gage. I knew if I could ride the downhill smooth, I could probably get a gap and hold it to the finish. The plan worked.”

At the beginning of the bell lap, Eric Brunner (Evol Racing) and Michael Van Den Ham (Garneau-Easton Cycling) would join the duo of Hecht and Ortenblad for one more time around. The last time through the double sand pit would be the deciding factor. Ortenblad came out clean and never looked back.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Ortenblad said about the weekend sweep in Oklahoma. “Usually if I can win the first day, I’ve got lots of confidence coming into the second day. The first day is usually the bigger challenge for me.”

Hecht would finish just one second back of Ortenblad. “About three or four laps in, I put in some attacks, just because I didn’t like how big the group was,” Hecht said. “Everyone was doing their best to move up, and that kind of creates a lot of chaos and a lot of energy that I don’t want to waste trying to stay near the front. So I put an acceleration in there to maybe spread it out. and then from there on out, it pretty much whittled down to Tobin and I. And then Eric and Michael were hanging on the back of us. He got me going into the railroad tie staircase, and I just didn’t have the space to get back on it. Sort of luck of the draw. I’m super stoked for a good weekend.”

The top pair were followed by van den Ham in third, Brunner in fourth and Grant Elwood (Boulder Cycle Sport) in a very respectable fifth. Werner, Saturday’s winner, would finish a disappointing 14th.

It was a surprising third-place finish for van den Ham, who did not finish Saturday’s contest because of a crash midway through the race that required a trip to the emergency room and seven stitches in his index finger of his right hand.

“Yesterday, about halfway through the race, someone went down in front of me and I piled into him and sliced my finger open on something,” the Canadian said. “So I was in the ER last night. I didn’t actually know if I’d be able to race today. And even when I was on the start line today I thought, you know what, I’m just happy to be out here. I was really lucky with my accident. I guess they could see the ligament, but it didn’t slice it. So I’m happy just to be able to move my finger and not require surgery. Maybe that was the right mentality. I just went out here with nothing to lose. I ended up with a pretty good race.

“About three laps in, I dropped my chain and was maybe 15 seconds back. This is a really hard course to chase back 15 seconds,” van den Ham added. “So I kind of put the turbo-boosters on and eventually caught Tobin and Gage, with Eric (Brunner) there as well. I was pretty cooked by the time we got there, I was just hanging on. I never saw the front of the race. There were going too good. I was happy to get third place, all things considered.”

Elite men full results

  • 1. Tobin Ortenblad, SANTA CRUZ / DONKEY LABEL RACING, in 59:41:00
  • 2. Gage Hecht, ALPHA BICYCLE COMPANY – GROOVE SUBARU, at +00:01
  • 4. Eric Brunner, EVOL RACING, at +0:09
  • 5. Grant Ellwood, BOULDER CYCLE SPORT, at +0:04
  • 6. Jack Kisseberth, JAM / NCC, at +0:05
  • 7. Scott Smith, JAM / NCC, at 1:06
  • 8. Cody Kaiser, LANGETWINS / SPECIALIZED, at +01:10
  • 9. James Driscoll, DONNELLY SPORTS, at +01:12
  • 10. Troy Wells, TEAM CLIF BAR, at +01:20
  • 11. Travis Livermon, MAXXIS/SHIMANO, at +01:21
  • 12. Maxx Chance, EVOL RACING, at+0 1:22
  • 13. Brian Matter, LINEAR SPORT RACING, at +01:22
  • 14. Kerry Werner, KONA FACTORY CX TEAM, at +01:39
  • 15. Brannan Fix, ALPHA BICYCLE CO.-GROOVE SUBARU, at +01:44
  • 16. Lance Haidet, DONNELLY SPORTS, at +02:51
  • 17. Ross Ellwood, BOULDER JUNIOR CYCLING, at +03:03
  • 19. Tristan Uhl, TEAM CCR ROOFING, at +03:50
  • 20. Brandon Melott, OKC VELO BIKE LAB, at +04:08
  • 21. Dylan Postier, GARNEAU-EASTON P/B TRANSITIONS LIFECARE, at +04:26
  • 22. Tyler Cloutier, TRANSITIONS LIFECARE P/B GARNEAU-EASTON, at +04:54
  • 23. Bjorn Selander, at +05:02
  • 24. Skyler Mackey, KCCX ELITE CYCLOCROSS TEAM, at +05:38
  • 25. Terol Pursell, REDSPOKE RACING, at +07:09
  • 26. Nicolas Gaurin, PACC RACING
  • 27. Kyle Johnson, TEAM YACHT CLUB
  • 28. Jonah Meadvancort, LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY
  • 31. Steven Williams, RECYCLED CYCLES
  • 32. Ryan Hobbs, MATRIX/RBM

Elite women full results

  • 1. Caroline Mani, VAN DESSEL FACTORY TEAM, in 46:20
  • 2. Courtenay Mcfadden, PIVOT CYCLES PB DNA CYCLING, at +00:22
  • 3. Sunny Gilbert, VAN DESSEL FACTORY TEAM, at +00:53
  • 4. Crystal Anthony, MAXXIS SHIMANO PRO CYCLOCROSS, at +01:15
  • 5. Emma Swartz, TREK CYCLOCROSS COLLECTIVE, at +01:26
  • 6. Amanda Nauman, SDG – MUSCLE MONSTER, at +02:03
  • 7. Christa Ghent, AMY D FOUNDATION, at +02:21
  • 8. Allison Arensman, J.A. KING P/B BR’C, at +02:58
  • 9. Erica Zaveta, EASTON GARNEAU, at +03:14
  • 10. Laura Winberry, SPEEDVAGEN FAMILY RACING, at +03:24
  • 11. Christina Gokey-Smith, MATRIX/RBM, at +03:38
  • 12. Shannon Mallory, NWCX PROJECT, at +03:58
  • 13. Luarel Rathbun, DONNELLY SPORTS, at +04:03
  • 14. Rebecca Gross, ZERO D RACING, at +04:05
  • 15. Susan Livingston, TEAM TOPO CX, at +04:05
  • 16. Natalie Smith, BICYCLE HEAVEN / PVA, at +04:12
  • 17. Katherine Santos, AMY D FOUNDATION, at +04:30
  • 18. Raylyn Nuss, MAPLEWOOD BICYCLE, at +04:43
  • 19. Carol Seipp, ORION RACING P/B K’UL CHOCOLATE, at +04:54
  • 20. Catherine Moore, TREK CXC, at +05:02
  • 21. Meghan Newlin, at +05:12
  • 22. Leslie Ethridge, TOPO DESIGNS CYCLING CLUB, at +6:11
  • 23. Anya Malarski, TRANSITIONS LIFECARE P/B EASTON-GARNE, at +6:19
  • 24. Dana Gilligan, TRANSITIONS LIFECARE P/B GARNEAU-EAST, at +06:53
  • 25. Ellie Mitchell, NWCX PROJECT, at +07:23
  • 27. Hayden Gizinski, NWCX PROJECT