April 13/03 11:04 am - Sea Otter Classic: MTB XC Story
Posted by Editoress on 04/13/03
Sea Otter Classic: Day 5
This report made possible through the sponsorship of Evolution by Oryx
Alison Dunlap (Luna) and Roland Green (Trek-VW) successfully defended their titles at the 13th Annual Sea Otter Classic, powered by SRAM on Sunday. Green led a 1-2-3 Canadian sweep of the men's 36 mile cross-country, while Dunlap finished second to 'Swiss Miss' Barbara Blatter (Specialized).
Both men and women completed 2 laps of a gruelling 18 mile circuit through the Fort Ord recreation area, before finishing on the Laguna Seca Speedway. Green's training partner, Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher) attacked early in the men's race and was soon joined by world champion Green.
"Ryder went out pretty hard at the beginning, and I was feeling pretty good also." explained Green. "We got a gap and then Geoff joined us. After that it was like doing a training ride back in Victoria with the three of us. We all had something to gain from the break so we worked together pretty well."
Their fellow Victoria, BC pro, Geoff Kabush (Kona-Clarks), recognized that the race was about to go up the road and jumped on the train. "Ryder and Rollie got a bit of a gap on the 'Hike a Bike' run up, and I knew that I had to get on, so I gave it my all. Once we got rolling we were pretty even sharing the work, and then Rollie dropped us in the final lap on a steep section before the feedzone. After that, Ryder and I worked together, but he had a bit more go then me at the end to take second."
Dunlap had nothing to lose and everything to gain by working with Blatter, who was looking to move up into second place in the overall standings. Blatter attacked early, on the first major climb, and only Dunlap could hold her wheel. After that, it was an easy ride for the 2001 world champion from Colorado Springs, who followed the former World Cup champion around as she steadily gained ground on the rest of the field. At the end, Dunlap, recognizing the effort Blatter had put forth, graciously did not contest the sprint for the stage win.
Dunlap: "By the top of the first big climb it was just Barbara and I. She set a hard tempo and dropped everyone - I just sat on. She deserved the win. For me it was a matter of preserving my position and I'm just very pleased to be able to repeat as the winner here; it is a great honour to win here."
"In the last lap I was always in front because Alison didn't need to be." said Blatter. "I would have liked to attack and try to go for the overall victory, but the wind was so strong today that there was no way to go away."
The Sea Otter Classic was also Blatter's first chance to really test herself after a terrible crash last summer at the Grouse World Cup in Vancouver, BC. She landed on her head and compressed her spine, which has caused back problems to this day.
"My back is not 100%, but I can ride and race again. It takes a long time to recover from an injury such as this, but I am very happy to be able to race hard here and see that I am competitive again."
- You may have noticed the growth that Roland Green is sporting on his face. "This is my (Vancouver) Canucks beard - they're going all the way and I'm going to be wearing this until they win the Stanley Cup."