Race Report by: Dave Sheek – OutsideAllDay.com
Southern California Prestige Series of Cyclocross presented by SPY Optic… SCPS #11: Velocity Cross… a Shimano CACX Rankings Race for Championship Showdown in Bakersfield 1.21-22.2012!
November is California Cyclocross Championships (CACX) rankings month presented by Shimano. Each region, Southern and Northern California, will bring rankings points for starting positions to the Nor Cal-So Cal Showdown and end of season finale in January 21 and 22, 2012 in Bakersfield. Southern California has bragging rights after last year’s event and committed So Cal Crossers lined up this weekend in Chino to earn their SoCal rankings at Velocity Cross. Nor Cal’s Stafford Lake CX race last week earned rankings and each region’s District Championship race along with last year’s winners will bring the best from each region North and South to the $10,000 showdown in Bakersifeld, CA 1/21-22/2012.
The Velocity Cycling Club worked hard with series promoters to bring another fantastic course to the series at Prado Regional Park in Chino, CA less than 40 miles from Downtown LA for the second year in a row. It was predominantly a grass course, with some loose dirt sections through the baseball infields, and road start/finish stretch. The course had a fun mixture of off camber turns, uphill sections including the Spy Stairs, and Shimano Barrier sections. The biggest challenge were the numerous sloggy grass sections aways from Saturday’s rain that did not allow for much rest and proved best for the strongest riders each race.
Tri-athlete Heather Jackson (K-Swiss) got a little cross bug after a weekend of racing in San Diego two weeks ago and came out to Chino this week motivated and riding strong. Jackson weaved her way to the front to set the pace which split the field immediately and it looked like Christina Probert-Turner (The TEAM SoCalCross-Turner) was the only rider able to challenge as the two got a gap half-way through the first lap.
The chase, just seconds behind, was led by Junior Hannah Finchcamp (The TEAM SoCalCross) returning after a could weeks rest from winning the X-Terra World Championships, but as they came to Spy hill the second wheel, Julie LaFranchise (Cynergy) went down. Amanda Schaper (Ritte Racing) and others moved quickly around to join Finchamp again in the chase. Then on the last part of the first lap there were more crashes as the group snaked through the trees, taking the front of the chase group including Schaper and Anna Fortner out of the race. Jenna Jammer Kowalski (Cynergy) snuck through the carnage and to lead the chase.
The second lap made the race and things began to calm down. Jackson kept charging hard on the front and put in the fastest women’s lap of the day, riding away from all others to eventually solo in for the win. Turner stayed away from the chase group as well to take 2nd. And after some back and forth action the emergent junior Finchcamp rode away from Jammer for 3rd. 4th was Jammer and 5th went to birthday girl and super promoter Dorothy Wong (The Team SoCal Cross).
Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pcific/Focus) lead down the starting stretch of pavement, but was passed by Brandon Gritters (Rock N Road) as racers entered the grass. Then a couple minutes into the lap Gritters messed up a turn and Prenzlow lead the rest of lap one. The front group was pretty large coming through lap one as riders where waiting for a big attack.
After a few laps it started to shake down. John Behrens (Bailey Bikes) got to the front, Kyle Gritters (Rock N Road), B. Gritters, Gary Douville (SDG/Felt p.b. Irt), and Prenzlow were off to make up the front group. Douville began to let up a bit and Prenzlow had to go around to stay in the front. This lead four established themselves for the next few laps.
After Behrens pulled for a couple laps, K. Gritters took over working for brother B. Gritters. John Bailey (Bailey Bikes) was chasing solo with Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt p.b.Irt) just behind him. The leaders stayed together and with three laps to go Bailey was fading back and Seigle moved up to within fifteen seconds of the front group. With two laps to go K. Gritters lead until his chain dropped. Behrens took over the front, followed by B.Gritters and Prenzlow. Siegle was very close behind alone, but couldn’t get on.
On the final lap, Behrens who was riding impressively strong lead, Prenzlow was watching closely. 1/2 lap to go and B. Gritters passed on the right before the Spy steps and Prenzlow then countered to pass on the left. They quickly remounted and on the off camber Prenzlow went low with more speed and passed Gritters. Prenzlow come out of an off camber 180 degree corner and sprinted, he took the next 2 corners max, and attacked again to get a gap. He applied one more little sprint past the pits and nailed the S-turn through the trees. It was just enough to hold a six second lead to the finish straight. B. Gritters held off Behrens for 2nd. Siegle was alone in 4th, and Kyle recovered to take 5th.
It was some exciting action again in Chino as many groups in the series continue to see different winners each week. A sign that shows the competition is growing and the training riders are putting in this year. With riders now halfway through their season, now is the time to get focused. The Southern California (SCNCA) District Championships take place Sunday November 27 in Glendale – Turkey Trot Cross! Next week the series heads back to the central coast, Cambria, for the last of the central coast events this year and the first West Coast Collegiate Cycling race since Irvine in 2008.
Photos by Kenneth Hill – Lights & Shadows Photography