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By Chris Milliman
On paper a 30-minute event wouldn’t seem too hard. After all, no matterhow hard it is, it only lasts half an hour. But don’t tell that to theracers whose tongues were dragging after 3 minutes of Saturday’s third stagein the 2003 Sea Otter Classic MTB event.
The short track race always delivers on its promise of being the hardesthalf hour in mountain bike racing.
“That is the hardest stage of the Sea Otter right there,” said men’swinner Roland Green (Trek-VW).
Green, who went into the day as the overall leader on GC, extended his lead after a last-lap attack took him clear of his three breakaway companions. Green, Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Julian Absalon (Motorex-Bianchi), and Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower) broke free 10 minutes into the race and all four put out the effort to make the break stick and gain time. Hesjedal animated at the front, anxious to put time into the two men who stood between him and Green on the GC. But in the end, Green proved altogether too strong.
“I pre-rode the course and decided to ride the [dual suspension] Fuel and it saved me,” admitted Green. “I was sitting behind guys and they were getting thrown but I could stay seated and get a bit more recovery.”
“I didn’t have too much kick today, just steady power,” offered Hesjedal after finishing fourth in the sprint but moving up to second on GC. “I had to keep going hard because I wanted to make time on the other guys on GC. Fortunately I ended up gaining time on the guys I needed to gain time on.”
After feeling a little shagged in the opening stage time trial, defending Sea Otter women’s champ Alison Dunlap (Luna Women’s MTB Team) is finding her race legs.
Dunlap followed Friday’s fat boy crit win with a crushing race in the short track. The 2001 world champ followed the hard pace set by early leader Sue Haywood (Trek-VW) and together with teammate Katerina Hanusova followed the race making move by Canada’s Melanie McQuaid (Ford Outfitters). The Luna teammates worked over McQuaid, with Dunlap finally breaking the Canadian on the last lap.
“This is the first time I’ve ever won this dirt crit so it’s very satisfying,” said Dunlap, whose 20-second time bonus and winning margin put her into the leader’s jersey. “My legs are finally starting to come around.”
2003 Sea Otter Classic SoBe Elite MTB Race
Stage 3, Short TrackWomen
1. Alison Dunlap, Luna Women’s MTB Team
2. Melanie McQuaid, Ford Outfitters
3. Katerina Hanusova, Luna Women’s MTB Team
4. Kelli Emmett, Team Hillenbrand
5. Sue Haywood, Trek-VWOverall
1. DunlapPro men
1. Roland Green, Trek-VW
2. Thomas Frishcknecht, Swisspower
3. Julian Absalon, Motorex-Bianchi
4. Ryder Hesjedal, Subaru-Gary Fisher
5. Florian Vogel, SwisspowerOverall