Bay Area Super Prestige Cyclocross • Candlestick Point
30 September 2012
San Francisco earns its part in Twain’s remark “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”. Many locals are also aware, rather, that some of the best weather in the Bay Area occurs in September and October. It was another such day for BASP to begin its 2012 cyclocross season. The weather at Candlestick Point was excellent and temperatures reached well into the 80s.
The course was mostly flat but also ‘rim-buster’ bumpy. The few elevation changes were short and steep with one longer run-up whose best line changed throughout the day. Of the two barriers, one was a 180º. The other TRP Brake Zone, however, had its second plank barrier within a bike’s length of a sharp rise. Along with the enormous number of turns throughout and much sandy terrain, the course was very technical.
The race for Elite Women was won by Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) as she revelled on the twisty course. Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law) came home in second but at the end of her race it was clear she left everything out on the course, in the hot and dusty race conditions.
“There’s a hill that is possible to ride up,” said Sherrill, “but the line up it is very tricky. I figured I better be first up that hill because, that way, [should] I fall down…[it may force my competitors] off the bike. So it was important for me to get there on the first lap and then if I had an opportunity to attack from there I would.”
Once the first lap was well underway, it was Brems and Sherrill off the front with a small gap to the rest of the field, thanks also to some support by Rock Lobster team mate Mary Ellen Ash. The race started to run out as it had done the two races of the previous weekend: Sherrill leading Brems early.
“That allowed me to just to focus on what one person was doing rather than have people elbow their way around me,” continued Sherrill, “I cornered a little more tightly and Karen [Brems] was taking a wider line. Obviously she [also] wanted to be in front for the hill. Each time I jumped back in front of [Brems], she went full throttle and jumped back around me.
I got onto that concrete straight-away that leads to the hill first. I looked back and there was enough of a gap that I wasn’t too worried that she was going to get around me before the hill. I rode the hill and the next time I looked back there was a significant gap. That was my race.”
Sherrill managed to stay ahead of Brems even after tangling with the course tape. “The lead out lap was different,” described Sherrill, “When I came through the second time I was too busy thinking ‘I’m in the front, I’m in the front. I have to ride fast.’ There’s not a lot of complicated thinking when you’re at your lactate threshold. Pretty soon [it was] ‘I’m in the course tape, I’m in the course tape!’ It was pulling back like a sling shot. I am lucky it didn’t take my helmet. I just ducked back under and got back in.”
Sherrill eventually raced home with a full 55-second advantage. Finishing in third for the Elite Women was Kathleen Hannon (Fresh Air/Hunter Cycles). Elicia Hildenbrand (Team Rambuski Law) took fourth place just ahead of Katie Jay Melena (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster).
For Elite Men, Andy Jacques-Maynes (California Giant/Specialized) got though the first turn on second wheel, ahead of a first lap crunch, and then took an early lead. Behind him, brother Ben Jacques-Maynes (Ritte/Bear Development Team) and Scott Chapin (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) came from deep in the field and made a charge to the front. Despite a momentary lapse in concentration, Andy Jacques-Maynes was successful in keeping ahead to take the win.
For the early part of the race, Andy Jacques-Maynes had two teammates in tow. The California Giant/Specialized young guns of Tobin Ortenblad and Cody Kaiser were racing well and looking for a team sweep of the podium. Ortenblad’s race was spoilt by a bobble and the hard-charging Chapin and Ben Jacques-Maynes. Kaiser suffered a flat but both he and Ortenblad finished on the podium; Ortenblad took fourth place with Kaiser rounding out the top five.
Having to start in the back rows of the call up, both Chapin and Ben Jacques-Maynes put in impressive riding as lap after lap they raced closer and closer to leader Andy Jacques-Maynes. “The course winds back and forth enough that you could keep track of everybody,” reported Andy Jacques-Maynes, “About half-way through the race I was getting a little spacey and complacent and botched four corners in a row. I guess I blew a lot of time because all of a sudden they [Chapin and Ben Jacques-Maynes] are only one corner behind. I thought, ‘Oh God! I gotta go!’ It definitely focused me. To throw away all that effort so far [I thought] ‘this ain’t gonna happen’.”
“I felt like I was going one speed the whole time,” continued Andy Jacques-Maynes, “It wasn’t [as though] I [was] going to go faster on this section or back off in [that] section. You’ve got to be on it the whole way. It’s a pretty tough course and being so hot today it was hard to recover [from] over extending yourself in one lap. It was difficult and I was just trying to be as smooth and conservative as possible. All my lap times were consistent, and that was my goal so I would have something left in case it was time to battle. On the last lap I just smacked it and just twisted open all the way.”
Ben Jacques-Maynes and Chapin continued their impressive run but had to pay attention to each other as well. Both took turns leading the other. On the final lap, Ben Jacques-Maynes put in his attack to take the second step of the podium as Chapin came home in third place. It remains a big “what if” had the two received a better call up, giving them a chance at a three-way battle.
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