Southern California Prestige Series of Cyclocross – SCPS 19: Cross 2012
Woodland Hills, CA- This always-popular SoCal Prestige Series event on the grounds of Pierce College is usually the last race of the season but with National Championships moving to January and Masters Worlds in the United States it was a great year to elongate the season. This festive race was a perfect way for competitors to bring in the New Year, hence its name Cross 2012.
The course is almost 100% dirt with a small portion of road but definitely one of the harder races with some challenging climbs and loose descents. It is a perfect cross venue as the race takes place in the center of a dirt bowl that race promoter Dorothy Wong and course designer Jeff Herring definitely take advantage of the hillsides. Last year this event brought one of the muddiest races ever to the series. This year, however, it was just another dry, warm, and fast courses as the weather was in the high 70’s with plenty of SoCal sun.
U23 Hungarian Champion Barbara Benko (Focus/MIG Team) took the early lead in the race. Christine Probert-Turner (The TEAM SoCal Cross/Turner Bikes) went with her as the two came through leading lap one. The chase was lead by young Hanna Rae Finchamp (The TEAM SoCal Cross) as they went into lap two.
Benko got a flat early in the race and had to pit but was back on the gas to chase down Turner. Eventually, Benko rode away from Turner to solo in for the win, Turner stayed strong also holding her gap for second. Third was another impressive ride as Finchamp continued her hard pace all race riding away from teammate Dorothy Wong and Amanda Schaper. Wong continued her battle with Schaper to take fourth and Schaper took the final podium spot in fifth.
With a mix of a few categories together the battles through the first lap made for some exciting racing. The leader through the first lap was the previous weeks winner Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt p.b. iRT) and a group of six that clung to his wheel. On lap two Siegle let his teammate Gary Douville (SDG/Felt p.b. iRT) around on the technical back descent but he unfortunately got tangled in the tape making him have to work to get back on the group.
Siegle took the lead back with Gareth Feldstein (Ritte Racing) and Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Focus) in tow. Going into lap three Siegle continued to push the pace on each of the climbs to get a small gap and like the week before he did not look back to solo in for his second win in two weeks.
Once Prenzlow drove the chase with Feldstein and Douville, who caught back on the group, he eventually started to get his own gap. Prenzlow stayed strong to ride in for second. Feldstein, who is having an impressive season after recently upgrading to the elite category, took third just ahead of Douville in fourth. John Bailey (Bailey Bikes) after winning the 35+ event just before the elite race continued to race hard to take fifth.
It was another great sunny SoCal event and a perfect way to start the New Years celebrations. The season has a few races left as it leads into the finale, Norcal vs. Socal event in Bakersfield, CA.
For more information on upcoming events go to: www.socalcross.org