This past weekend at CXLA, held at Whittier Narrows Park, Jamey Driscoll twice finished second in the elite men’s UCI C2 races and Lance Haidet twice finished third in the U23 UCI C2 races. Both days and in both races, Driscoll and Haidet came out of the last turn with a select front group for a mad dash to the finish line. Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz Factory Racing) sprinted to back-to-back victories in the elite men’s race. Grant Ellwood (Boulder Cycle Sport/YogaGlo) and Maxx Chance (EVOL DevoElite Racing) won the U23 races on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
On Saturday, racers lined up in dry, dusty and warm conditions, the expected weather for southern California, but a change in the forecast provided some excitement on Sunday when the cyclocross gods heeded the call for rain.
“Yesterday was beautiful and 75 degrees,” said Haidet. “The course was superfast. Today it was sprinkling in the morning and then an hour before the U23 race it started coming down. It doesn’t normally rain here so it was a bit crazy. People were switching tires last minute. I started with Clement MXP’s but eventually switched to PDX’s as the course got muddier.”
Preferring more technical courses rather than all-out drag races, Haidet was happy for the changes mother nature had in store on Sunday.
“It was super fun. Perfect conditions,” Haidet said. “It hadn’t rained enough that it was super muddy but more glassed-over grass that was slippery no matter what tires you used. The course was changing every lap because of the rain, and I like it that way. It made it interesting. The organizers had made some changes from Saturday, but the rain made the most difference. We had two completely different races.”
Driscoll, whose wife recently gave birth to their daughter Layla, went to Los Angeles hoping for a win but left content with his two second place finishes.
“After being away from racing for awhile, getting sick leading up to the weekend and having a new baby at home, I’m pretty happy with how I raced,” Driscoll said.
Not a fan of crit-like ‘cross races, Driscoll was also happy that the inclement weather naturally created more of a selection on Sunday.
“Yesterday there were 12-13 guys in the front group near the end of the race,” said Driscoll. “I’m not a big fan of jockeying for position. Today was more favorable because the conditions left us with more opportunity to cut down the size of the lead group, although it still wasn’t as selective as I’d hoped. The field was deep, probably one of the deepest fields I’ve raced against here in L.A.”
Although Driscoll credits Ortenblad with having good legs this weekend, he believes that a hillier or muddier course would have played to his strengths.
“If the course had been more challenging, I think I could have gotten the win,” said Driscoll. “Tobin is fast right now so he may very well have won even with a much harder course. He had really good legs. I had slightly less good legs. But I am still happy with how I raced.”
Article credit to Raleigh Clement Pro Cycling Team
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