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Cromwell, Grabinger take windy Sea Otter NRC crowns

Powerful gusting winds didn’t sway 19-year-old Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home) or Michael Grabinger (Successful Living), who took NRC victories on the Laguna Seca Raceway Saturday at the Sea Otter Classic. The men’s and women’s events played out very differently. Cromwell rode solo off the front of a break for the final few laps. Grabinger, however, made it into an unusual four-man breakaway with two teammates and David Clinger (Rock Racing). The men lapped the field — twice — before Successful Living lined up a leadout in the stiff crosswind.

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By Ben Delaney

Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita) crushes in the women's Sea Otter NRC race.

Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita) crushes in the women’s Sea Otter NRC race.

Photo: Sean Walkinshaw

Powerful gusting winds didn’t sway 19-year-old Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home) or Michael Grabinger (Successful Living), who took NRC victories on the Laguna Seca Raceway Saturday at the Sea Otter Classic.

The men’s and women’s events played out very differently. Cromwell rode solo off the front of a break for the final few laps. Grabinger, however, made it into an unusual four-man breakaway with two teammates and David Clinger (Rock Racing). The men lapped the field — twice — before Successful Living lined up a leadout in the stiff crosswind.

Cromwell crushes

Cromwell and her Colavita teammate Dotsie Bausch, who won the previous day’s non-NRC road race, made their way into a mid-race move with Laura Van Gilder, Catherine Cheatley and Stacy Marple (all Cheerwine), Rachel Heal (Tibco), Shelly Olds (Proman Women’s Racing) and a few others.

“It was the perfect break,” Cromwell said. “We had two Colavita riders, me and Dotsie. And Tina [Pic] was back in the pack. Laura Van Gilder was the biggest threat.”

The Australian went solo almost accidentally, when she realized Van Gilder was in trouble on the circuit’s stiff climb.

“When I found out that Laura was off the back I just drove that climb,” Cromwell said. “I looked back and saw that I had a gap. And I just had to keep time trialing until the end.”

It was no easy task in the 30mph gusts.

“It was unbelievably windy,” Cromwell said. “I had to fight the whole way.”

Olds, who took the bunch sprint for second, said there wasn’t a concerted chase when Cromwell went clear.

“A group had gone just before, and we had all gone pretty deep to bring it back,” Olds said. “And then she was able to ride away. Nobody really wanted to get the chase together. There wasn’t enough coordination. But that allowed me to sit in and wait for the sprint.”

Three on one

With the nation’s biggest teams in Georgia, the Sea Otter NRC drew a mix of domestic pro teams and regional squads. Some outfits, like Rock Racing and Health Net-Maxxis, fielded teams for Sea Otter and Tour de Georgia.

Successful Living had the numbers in the Sea Otter NRC race.

Successful Living had the numbers in the Sea Otter NRC race.

Photo: Sean Walkinshaw

Sea Otter’s Laguna circuit is often a race of attrition — riders tackle the 300-foot climb 31 times. After a number of small moves and aggressions were neutralized, Successful Living went on the successful attack. First Brian Jensen went clear alone. Then Brad White bridged up to join him. Clinger — whose tattooed face appeared in a full-page photo in the local paper that morning — leapt out of the field to move across. Grabinger jumped on his wheel, and soon there were four.

A seven-man chase group looked like it was gaining ground, but eventually blew apart in the wind. Seemingly every time over the climb, riders would tail off, and the combination of the 40-mph descent and the 30-mph winds meant they weren’t coming back. Soon, there were three groups: the four-man break, a chase of about 30 riders, and the tattered remains of the field, minutes back.

As the laps wound down the break had no need to work. A series of attacks and counters seemed the obvious move for Successful Living. Not a single attack came.

“Our team was pretty confident that we’d be able to pull off a lead-out in the wind,” Grabinger said. “We weren’t too motivated to attack there at the end. With those crosswinds it’s pretty easy to keep one of the riders protected for the sprint. That’s what we did.”

Clinger said that the four had agreed to ride it to the finish.

“I told them I wasn’t going to attack if they kept it tame,” said Clinger, who took second. “I was outnumbered so I just told them, hey, let’s bring it to the line and we’ll sprint it out. I don’t like doing that, but they were so strong, there was no other option. It was either attack them with two or three to go, and maybe get dropped, and they take first, second and third. They played it safe. They definitely won the race, and they deserved it.”

Photo Gallery

Results

Sea Otter NRC

Men

1. Michael Grabinger Jr., Successful Living, 2:52:51

2. Brian Jensen, Successful Living, same time

3. David Clinger, Rock Racing, s.t.

4. Bradley White, Successful Living, at 0:02

5. John Murphy, Health Net

6. Anibal Borrajo, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

7. Evan Oliphant, Plowman Craven

8. Alejandro Borrajo, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

9. Sid Taberlay, Hobart Wheelers

10. Alessandro Bazzana, Successful Living

11. Sebastian Haedo, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

12. Kyle Gritters, Health Net-Maxxis

13. Adam Switters, Rock Racing

14. Markus Weinberg, Kahala La Grange

15. Caleb Manion, Toyota United

16. Morgan Schmitt, Bissell Pro Cyclng

17. Adam Livingston, Team 5 Star-Waste Veg Oil

18. Ben King, Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast

19. Alex Candelario, Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast

20. Adrian Gerrits, Kahala La Grange

21. Daniel Ramsey, Time Pro Cycling

22. David Gittneplan, Time Pro Cycling

23. Luis Amaran, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

24. Andrew Bajadali, Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast

25. Max Jenkins, California Giant Strawberries

26. Neil Coleman, Plowman Craven

27. Ken Hanson, California Giant Strawberries

28. Joao Correia, Bissell Pro Cycling

29. Simon Gaywood, Plowman Craven

30. Cody O’Reilly, Successful Living

31. Roman Kilun, Health Net

32. Michael Easter, Time Factory Team

33. Justin Kerr, Liquid Cycling

34. Paul Mach

35. Bryson Perry, American RAAD

36. Mark Shimahara

37. Daniel Bowman, Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast

38. Roman Vanuden, Team Rubicon

39. Vincent Owens, Sierra Pacific Racing

40. James Mattis, California Giant Strawberries

41. Tyler Dibble, California Giant Strawberries

42. Logan Hunn, Team Rubicon

43. Jesse Moore, California Giant Strawberries

44. Graham Howard, Bissell Pro Cycling

45. Rudolph Napolitano, Rock Racing

46. Jeremiah Wiscovitch, Rock Racing

47. Kyle Wamsley, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

Women

1. Tiffany Cromwell, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 2:23:42

2. Shelley Olds, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:26:33

3. Rachel Heal, TIBCO, 2:26:33

4. Catherine Cheatley, Cheerwine, 2:26:34

5. Dotsie Bausch, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 2:26:34

6. Stacy Marple, Cheerwine, 2:26:34

7. Tina Pic, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 2:28:43

8. Brooke Miller, TIBCO, 2:28:43

9. Virginia Perkins, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:28:44

10. Laura Van Gilder, Cheerwine, 2:28:44

11. Coryn Rivera 2:28:44

12. Nichole Wangsgard, Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 2:28:45

13. Rushlee Buchanan, TIBCO, 2:28:45

14. Amanda Eaken, Metromint, 2:28:45

15. Kristina Seley, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:28:45

16. Robin Farina, Cheerwine, 2:28:45

17. Jenn Halladay, Bob’s Bicycles, 2:28:45

18. Jane Despas, Klein Real Estate, 2:28:45

19. Megan Hottman, DFT-QA3, 2:28:45
20. Helene Drumm, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:28:46

21. Rachel Lloyd, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:28:46

22. Helen Kelly, TIBCO, 2:28:51

23. Martina Patella, Valueact Capital, 2:28:52

24. Flavia Oliveira, Vanderkitten, 2:28:53

25. Sarah Bamberger, Cheerwine, 2:28:54

26. Alison Rosenthal, TIBCO, 2:28:55

27. Jennifer Reither, 2:28:55

28. Morgan Kapp, 2:28:56

29. Beverley Harper, 2:28:57

30. Tracy Kubas, Bicycle John’s, 2:29:01

31. Kate Sherwin, Advil Chapstick, 2:29:12

32. Ruth Clemence, 2:30:05

33. Melodie Metzger, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:32:07

34. Jennifer Joynt, Metromint, 2:32:10

35. Lara Kroepsch, Valueact Capita,l 2:32:10

36. Jennifer Wilson, 2:32:10

37. Victoria Bastide, TIBCO, 2:32:10

38. Kristin Drumm, Proman Women’s Racing, 2:32:10

39. Jadine Riley, 2:32:11

40. Holly Borowski, Touchstone Climbing Cycling, 2:32:11