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Todd Wells and Georgia Gould rode away from their respective fields to win the Pro Cross-Country Tour short-track races at the Sea Otter Classic on Saturday.
The race was held on a grassy hillside full of bumps, a mud bog, off-camber sections that overlooked the Sea Otter expo area.
After winning the Pro XCT cross-country race in Fontana and the Pan-Am Mountain Bike Championships in less than a month, Wells (Specialized Factory Racing) continued his early season winning ways on the short-track. And even with a top-flight field that included 10 riders who can win a World Cup race on any given day, Wells won easily.
“A lot of the top riders didn’t get a good call up,” Wells said. “I used it to my advantage.”
Wells, Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and Roel Paulissen (Cannondale Factory Racing) lead out on the 20-minute plus three-lap race. After things shook out, it was Wells and teammate Burry Stander, reigning U-23 World Champion, took turns on the front of the race, with Kabush back about 15 seconds.
Wells then took control of the race, putting a gap on Stander by about 10 seconds. He held that until the end of the race.
“The race was fast from the gun,” Wells said. “I have pretty good form right now.”
Like Wells, Stander was riding a Specialized Stumpjumper 29er for the short-track. He said it was about the third time in a week he’d been on the bike and the first time in a race. He said a mud bog at the end of the first straightaway determined the race.
“Through the mud, we were the only guys not slowing down,” Stander, who finished second, said.
Kabush finished third, followed by Christoph Sauser (Specialized Factory Racing), Sid Taberlay (ShoAir-Specialized) and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher).
Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) didn’t need big wheels to navigate the mud on her way to blowing up the women’s race. However, she didn’t immediately dominate the flow of events.
Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing) and Gould set the early pace for the 20-minute plus three-lap race. About 10 seconds behind was Emily Batty (Trek World Racing) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Chix).
Mixing it up on the front was literally that, with Koerber, Byberg and Gould each taking pulls. Pendrel was off the group of three but eventually bridged up. At about that time, Gould started to gap the others, putting about six seconds on the chasers.
With two laps to go, Gould had built a 20 second lead over teammate Pendrel and Byberg, while Koerber was dropped. That made it a race for second, which Byberg won by making a pass on Pendrel.
Men’s short track results
- 1. Todd Wells
- 2. Burry Stander
- 3. Geoff Kabush
- 4. Christopher Sauser
- 5. Sid Taberlay
- 6. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski
- 7. Sam Schultz
- 8. Manuel Fumic
- 9. Carl Decker
- 10. Marco Aurelio Fontana
- 11. Ryan Trebon
- 12. Max Plaxton
- 13. Ken Onodera
- 14. Roel Paulissen
- 15. Jeremiah Bishop
Women’s short track results
- 1. Georgia Gould
- 2. Lene Byberg
- 3. Catharine Pendrel
- 4. Willow Koerber
- 5. Emily Batty
- 6. Katerina Nash
- 7. Kelli Emmett
- 8. Heather Irmiger
- 9. Chloe Forsman
- 10. Mical Dyck