and Matter win at the WORS Crystal Lake Classic
day that had seemed unpromising, the sun came out for Wisconsin and dried the
sandy trails at Crystal Lake to a perfection of twisting, technical
singletrack. Abby Strigel (Trek
Stores of Madison) defended her winning streak at the second race of the
Wisconsin Off Road Series on Sunday, while Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek)
outgunned Tristan Schouten and Nathan Guerra in the men’s race. In total, over 540 WORS particpants raced
through the woods surrounding Crystal Lake outside of Rhinelander, WI at the
second outing of the 2011 WORS Series.
Strigel and Matter crossed the line on a Trek Top Fuel, and credited their
smooth performance on Rhinelander’s suspension-pounding singletrack to their
full-suspension, 26” wheel bikes.
raced smart and the Top Fuel was the bike of choice again, and Abby won on the
Top Fuel too,” said Matter after the race. "Just good tire pressure, good bike and raced smart. In the third lap, I went pretty
aggressive in the singletrack and got the gap that I needed, and went with it.”
separated from defending WORS Overall Champion Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt)
in the singletrack on their third lap, and pulled away from the last man on his
wheel, Nathan Guerra (Wheel & Sprocket / Vision) in the fourth. He finished in 1:59:01, just ahead of
looming rain clouds. Schouten, who
is still without a bike of his own in 2011 and was riding a 5-year old bike
borrowed from a friend on Sunday, was unable to maintain contact with the two
leaders through the rough, technical singletrack.
know this course demands a full suspension, or you just can’t pedal enough,”
said Schouten. "After last year,
when I was on a hardtail, I remember I was able to pedal my bike only half as
often as racers on a full suspension, which is not good. Matter was strong
today and this course did not suit me particularly well. There is really only singletrack to
separate the racers, and I’ve spent limited hours on a mountain bike so far
this season. Hopefully after a
good weekend of [road] racing down in Iowa, I’ll have some good fitness for the
next WORS race, and a bike.”
finisher Nathan Guerra set the pace for much of the contest, racing to step
back on to the top spot of the WORS podium. A WORS Series racer for over seven years, Guerra began as a
Cat 3 and has steadily climbed through the field to finish in 3rd place overall
in 2010. This year, Guerra is
looking to contend for the Overall and set an aggressive pace in the
singletrack at Crystal Lake.
went to the front before the first singletrack and just put it down as hard as
I could,” said Guerra. "It was
scary because I was hurting pretty bad, but it looked like everybody else was
too. It came down to Tristan,
Brian and I by the end of the first lap. About half way through the third lap, Brian went to the front. I think he got sick of me punching it,
then taking it easy, then punching it again. He just put the hammer down for the last half of the third
lap and we lost contact with Tristan. Then, in the last half of the fourth lap he did the same thing to me,
and I was gone.”
chased hard to finish at 1:59:51, while Schouten rolled in at 2:01:24.
the trio battling at the front, a sudden crash downed 2010 second-place Elite
Overall finisher Darrin Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized) on the first
lap. Braun was already riding
injured, having bruised or cracked at least one rib before the race. After his hard crash, Braun was in visible
distress and having difficulty breathing. Several racers who were then riding within the top 10 immediately
stopped to aid Braun, including teammate Ryan Krayer, Mike Anderson (Trek 29er
/ Sram) and Iowa City racer Brian Eppen (Mercy-Specialized). Though now recovering well, Braun
suffered a broken rib. After the
race, he was quick to offer thanks to those racers, volunteers and emergency
medical staff who helped him to safely recover.
teammate Chris Peariso finished in fourth at 2:02:15 while Ben Koenig (RMC /
Red Eye Brewery) took the final step on the BelGioioso podium out of an Elite
men’s field of 57 at 2:02:20.
Strigel wins in the singletrack
the women’s race, Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) did her best to gain an
edge over Kim Eppen (Mercy Specialized) in the abundant singletrack. The two women have met in Upper Midwest
contests for several years, and only recently did Strigel prevail, beating
Eppen for the first time at WORS Treadfest in September 2010.
like all the bumpiness and the twisty turns at Crystal Lake,” said
Strigel. "I feel like it’s a
fairly technical course and I enjoy it. Despite my love for this course, it is a back killer and I was very
happy to be on my Top Fuel not only for the tight twisty single track, but also
for the beating you take while racing there.”
the women’s field of 16 Pro and Cat 1 racers was led out by Michelle Peariso
(Adventure 212 / Specialized), Strigel went to the front and separated from the
group, with only Eppen holding her wheel.
know what Kim is capable of,” said Strigel. "So, I just went as hard as I could
up all the climbs. I think she’s a
little stronger on the climbs than I am. Once we hit singletrack, I just tried to do my thing because I thought
that would be the only way I could get any kind of lead on her.”
had never been to that course before,” said Eppen after her race. "I figured I
would try to stay with Abby and get a feel for the course on the first lap and
see what happened. We hit the
single track together and she was ripping it up! I was following a bit too closely, hit a few whoops and
caught some big air and about filled my chamois! I figured I had better shut it down a bit and regroup so
that I didn’t launch myself into a tree. Meanwhile, Abby was rocking the single track while I rocked myself right
off the back, and continued to go backwards. It was a rough day for me, but I
give props to Abby.”
the threat of Eppen spurring her on, Strigel rode into the Elite men’s field
and pushed herself even harder in the open sections and climbs to keep her
advantage in singletrack. Without
knowing the gap until after the finish, she crossed the line with a lead of
nearly five minutes over Eppen at 1:43:20.
in turn, put considerable time into the remainder of the women’s field,
finishing in 1:48:13, five minutes ahead of teammate Robin Williams, who took
third at 1:53:12. Adventure 212 /
Specialized teammates Michelle Peariso and Sarah Agena went on to round out the
BelGioioso Elite podium in 4th and 5th place, respectively.
next WORS race, the Trek Big Ring Classic, will be held at 9-mile Forest
outside of Wausau, WI on June 12.