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04.16.07 - Mountain Bike: Sea Otter Classic

The Sea Otter Classic, in Monterey, California, is the traditional season-opener for North American mountain bikers. Held this year from April 13 to 15, the event also serves as a final tune up for the Nissan Mountain Bike World Cup, in Houffalize, Belgium. Canadian national team members showed that they are ready to take on the rest of the world, after stellar performances at Sea Otter.

podium - mens

Canadian riders finished on the podium in all events for both men and men, with Canadian and Pan American champion Geoff Kabush (Victoria, Team Maxxis) the most dominant rider of the weekend with two wins in three events. Just behind him was Courtney, BC's Kiara Bisaro (Team Opus), who finished a career high second in the women's cross-country race.

The weekend began with a short and intense 2.25 kilometre time trial. Canadian men swept the top-3, led by Kabush. Finishing second was Under-23 Pan American champion Max Plaxton (Tofino, BC, Rocky Mountain-Haywood) and in third was Athens Olympian Seamus McGrath (Duncan, BC, Rocky Mountain-Haywood). On the women's side, Wendy Simms (Nanaimo, BC, Kona) took the fifth and final podium spot, with three-time world champion Alison Sydor (Vancouver, Rocky Mountain-Haywood) one spot behind.

Kabush, coming off wins at the Pan Am Championships in Argentina, looks to have unbeatable form at this time. "I felt pretty fast out there. I think that I rode everything smooth; there was just one spot in the
downhill that I wasn't quite 'on'."

Plaxton, who won the Espoir Pan Am title, was looking to erase his bad luck from a race two weeks earlier in Arizona, when a mechanical took him out of the race early. "I was looking to win here, so it's a little disappointing. I know my form is good, and this was a good test, but it is a weird sort of time trial because it is so much shorter than what we usually do."

The second day of competition saw the riders competing in the Short Track event. The Short Track at Sea Otter is long and tough in ideal conditions, but it was made even harder this year by a storm which swept in two hours before the race to thoroughly soak the track, and make the descents slippery and treacherous.

Kiara Bisaro

Kiara Bisaro

Kiara Bisaro finished the first lap just barely in the top-10, but moved up steadily during the 20 minute +, 3 lap race to move into third with three laps to go. "This is the first time I have ever actually made the podium in a short track. It was a very typical start for me, with moving up all race; I just don't normally make it up that far." In the men's race, McGrath and Kabush moved up from a slow start to finish third and fourth respectively.

The 2007 Sea Otter Classic concluded on Sunday with the premier event - the pro men's and women's cross-country race. U.S. National and Pan American champion Georgia Gould proved to be unbeatable in the women's race, but Bisaro battled Czech rider Katerina Nash all race for second place, outsprinting her in the final 200 metres to record her best-ever result at Sea Otter.

The men's race proved to be one of attrition, as Kabush set a high tempo for the first lap, which burned off all but four rivals from his wheel. Further attacks on the second lap brought the lead group down to Kabush and two others. Both Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) laid down multiple attacks on Kabush, but the Canadian national champion responded to every one, and then
outsprinted his rivals in the final 300 metres to win the 2007 Sea Otter cross-country title.

"The first lap I took control for quite a bit to make a split in the field, and then did again in the first half of the second lap. Sauser and Peraud started attacking and Sauser put us in the gutter a few times, but once it was down to three I was pretty confident for the sprint. This is good for my confidence for sure, as we get ready for the first World Cup next week in Belgium."

Sea Otter Classic Photo Gallery

Kiara Bisaro
Kiara Bisaro
Kiara Bisaro
Kiara Bisaro
Kiara Bisaro
Kiara Bisaro
Seamus McGrath
Geoff Kabush
Geoff Kabush
Wendy Simms
Max Plaxton
Wendy Simms



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