Santa Rosa Cup CX
Windsor Oaks Winery
15 December 2012
Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) raced in a “relaxed mode” to win the Elite Women’s race today on a muddy, weather-ridden course. Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law) took both the Elite Men’s race win and the overall series Cup after staving off a hard-charging Philip Mooney (Team Mike’s Bikes). Mooney had suffered a flat mid-way through the race and put in a determined, brave effort in his attempt to overtake Hillier.
The weather was wet and sloppy for today’s finale of the 2012 Santa Rosa Cup CX. The course on the Windsor Oaks Winery grounds had several off-camber sections and short run-ups that were most difficult after the rains began mid-day. The mud was slippery in places, sticky in others. Many local ‘cross racers long for and revel in these conditions. Certainly, there were more than a few smiles at the end of races.
The Long-Hole Shot
The Elite Women riders started their race under a light but steady rain. There was a scramble through the first muddy corner. Once off the first fire road, Sherrill was in the lead as she grabbed her sought after ‘long-hole’ shot. Kathleen Hannon (Team Freewheel Bike Shop) sat in a challenging second position with Caroline Dezendorf (West Coast Women’s Cycling) close behind in third. This became the status quo for much of the first half of the race.
“I was worried I wouldn’t get the hole shot because we have a couple of fast starters here,” said Sherrill, “I’m not known as a fast starter. On the other hand, it was uphill. I managed to get in front – I thought if I got to the off-camber by the pond [in the lead], I would be able to see my lines. It was super slick and you want to pick the right line. If you’re following behind someone they may not pick the best line so I wanted to be in front.”
Sherrill continued in the lead and very gradually increased the gap to second. “I got a good hint, from someone who had raced earlier in the day, to relax,” continued Sherrill, “Everyone who was watching me race said so. It was neat to hear. Once I got out in front, I didn’t necessarily want to hold my lead but I didn’t feel it was that important to increase it. I thought ‘I’m just going to relax, keep riding fast, see my lines, own my bike through relaxing, and eventually people will start to mess up behind me.”
The Rock Lobster rider kept a close eye on second-place, acknowledging Hannon often can come on stronger later in a race. “She didn’t close the gap and I wasn’t really gaining on her,” remarked Sherrill, “I just kept on riding at my steady pace and relaxing.” The tactic worked well as, by three laps-to-go, the gap from first to second had crept out to 19 seconds. It then exploded beyond 30 seconds the following lap.
It was a well-pleased Sherrill that crossed the finish line in first place. Hannon secured second with Joanna Bechtel taking the third step of the podium.
Sherrill continued to say “It was really fun! It was a fun course. This was the first real mud course of the year for me. I also highly praise Bike Monkey and CX Nation [the event organisers] for equal payout of the men’s and women’s fields; this is great support of women’s bike racing.”
I Don’t Know About Peaking
Philip Mooney and Mitch Trux (Sterling) shared the Elite Men’s lead in the early laps but Keith Hillier was always sitting dangerously in third place. As the race continued, Hillier first caught and passed Trux before sharing the lead with Mooney. At the mid-point of the race, Mooney had a flat at an inopportune time, leaving him with most of the course to cover before any repair. He was well prepared, however, and was able to rectify his mechanical issue without too much loss of time.
Mooney went into full tilt and chased hard. It was an admirable effort given it was one always fraught with danger under the difficult and wet course conditions. Plus, Hillier could control the race very easily in any response to Mooney.
“I was using the course to see what my gap was and count seconds to see how far he [Mooney] was back,” commented Hillier, “He had a good bike change. He had something planned at the beginning of the race because he had a suspicion that something was going to go wrong. He put in a really good effort, I wish we were together.”
Mooney continued to reduce the gap lap-after-lap but eventually the tide turned and Hillier held firm. “I was having a hard time,” continued Hillier, “All the lines started changing so I had to adjust my tactics out there. Once a couple of laps went by I figured out the course again and I was able to extend my lead.”
Hillier cruised across the finish line for the win and secured enough points for the series, taking home a very heavy Cup. He also earns points toward the NCNCA CX BAR that give him an almost insurmountable points lead. “It feels great,” remarked Hillier, “I’ve been keeping an eye on the BAR all season. It has been one of my goals to see what I can do and give Scotty Chapin a run for his money. I don’t know about peaking. I’m more of a steady guy throughout the season, even in road.”
Mooney came home in a well-deserved second as early leader Trux grabbed third in another good race for the Sterling rider.
Race Results (To be confirmed)
1. Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lbster)
2. Kathleen Hannon (Team Freewheel Bike Shop)
3. Joanna Bechtel
4. Collen Wanty (West Coast Women’s Cycling)
5. Kelly Chang (SyCip)
6. Kristin Drumm (CyclesFanatic.com)
7. Romany McNamara (Missing Link/3rd Rail)
1. Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law)
2. Philip Mooney (Team Mike’s Bikes)
3. Mitch Trux (Sterling)
4. Cameron Falconer (Fresh Air/Hunter)
5. Andrew Juiliano (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster)
6. Alfred Cauthen (Chica Sexy)
7. James Williams (Adventure’s Edge)
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