What did we learn from the first race in the Life Time Grand Prix series? ‘It’s gonna be tough’

Lyle Ellerbee

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MONTEREY COUNTY, California (VN) – Joke all you want that the mountain bike races part of the Everyday living Time Grand Prix race collection are just gravel races on steroids — and then watch mountain bikers dominate.

That was the case at  Saturday’s Fuego 80k race at the Sea Otter Basic. The XC mountain bike race was the time opener of the prolonged-predicted Lifestyle Time Grand Prix offered by Mazda, a six-race series comprised of 3 MTB races and three gravel races.

In equally the men’s and women’s prime 10, only two riders (Tobin Ortenblad, Kyle Trudeau, Katerina Nash, and Savilia Blunk) were being not section of the race collection. All of the riders taking part in the collection ended up awarded factors dependent on their consequence. Mo Wilson potential customers the women’s industry, though Keegan Swenson is at the top of the men’s leaderboard.

VeloNews was at the finish on Saturday to talk to some of the racers for their just take on how the 1st race informs the rest of the series.

The most obvious query was if mountain bikers are going to an benefit in the collection. While there were some crossover athletes in the men’s prime ten  — L39ION of Los Angeles ‘cross celebrity Lance Haidet in seventh, former pro roadie Alexey Vermuelen in ninth, and Canadian time trialist Rob Britton in tenth — professional mountain bikers dominated on the day.

In the women’s race, mountain bicycle specialists produced up the total leading ten — the only outlier staying winner Mo Wilson, who may possibly not be in a position to declare non-pro MTBer position for a great deal for a longer period.

“Saturday’s race confirmed us the mountain bikers are using this race collection critically,” claimed Russell Finsterwald after his next-position finish. “Of system on Saturday, we were being in our wheelhouse but on a health-significant system like Sea Otter, I believe we confirmed we have the motor in addition to a bit of an upper hand in the competencies section.”

Adam Roberge, who finished 16th, raced mountain bikes as a child but this was his to start with MTB race in 6 a long time. Whilst he observed a bias towards mountain bikers on Saturday, he does not believe it will hold correct during the series.

“We can it’s possible see that the mountain biker has a distinct benefit in the mountain bike races,” he stated. “A lot of people really do not realize that there is a large big difference involving the two sports activities and I imagine you see it clearer listed here. So it will be pretty essential for a gravel racer to make the [gravel] races really tricky. If it stays in a peloton then a mountain biker can hold out but if it is a difficult grind usually that’s in which they battle so I think it will be our responsibility to make it quite really hard.”

Maude Farrell, whose 20th place end moved her into 15th in the Grand Prix, also predicts fluidity in the course of the sequence.

“I do not consider it is biased to mountain bikers,” she said. “Happenstance place that design and style of race initial, but I imagine there’s attention-grabbing shake-ups nonetheless to occur with Unbound Gravel up coming. The dynamics, method, racing rules, and health and fitness requires are entirely diverse.”

Farrell said that although the initial race of the Grand Prix was enlightening in some methods, it should not be viewed as much more than a prologue to the total sequence.

“There was so a great deal powerful power going into the initial race, with all people curious about one particular another’s health and fitness and system which I think extra an fascinating spice to the opening race,” she reported. “But the year is very long — 7 months. We have to keep sharp and tuned in for seven months. That’s a very extended time for ebbs and flows in health and fitness, talent, and disposition in each and every racer. Certainly now that we have the initial formal ‘ranking’ it’s like we have all played a hand in the recreation of poker, but the following offer will essentially start out from scratch, even if some racers have a much better situation than other people. But I would not rely out everyone but. The neat factor about this collection is it is not just one and carried out.”

Alex Howes (15th at Sea Otter, 11th LTGP) available a identical standpoint.

Actually I really don’t think we experienced too a lot of large surprises listed here,” he explained. “In common the guys that we imagined would carry out well listed here performed perfectly. There were being a couple kind of roadie-esque guys that in all probability did far better than we assumed they might and then a pair of guys like myself who men and women were like, ‘oh yea he’s gonna be top rated ten’ that weren’t in the major ten. We’ll see. It’s a super long calendar year. There’s however a foot and a 50 percent of snow at my home now, so I’m wanting forward toward October.”

Evelyn Dong, who finished fifth on the day and is fifth in the Grand Prix standings, gave a peaceful kudos to her competitors in the series.

“I have a whole lot of regard for everyone,” she reported. “I know everyone’s been teaching challenging for this, and every person has switched up their schooling specially for the collection. It is gonna be rough.”

Dong, like practically each and every other rider in the collection we have spoken to, is hunting towards Unbound Gravel like a big, looming fireball on the horizon. For her — and basically every single rider who’s never ever done Unbound Gravel — the following event in the Grand Prix will be her longest race at any time.

“Sea Otter was not a priority but Unbound is,” mentioned Sofia Gomez Villafañe (2nd at Sea Otter, 2nd LTGP). “I’m really excited in May to put in plenty of miles and tons of initiatives in Arizona in the heat. I’ll make all my devices decisions from bicycle to drivetrain to aerobars or not. I’m seeking ahead to it.”

Finsterwald is also eschewing a great Colorado spring for a sweltering Arizona pre-Unbound simulation. Even as a lifelong pro mountain biker, he’s self-assured that the podium in Kansas could look extra like the a person in California.

“I do assume the major 10 of Unbound will glance distinct,” he stated. “I imagine we will see men like Pete [Stetina], Howes, Lachlan [Morton], Laurens [ten Dam] and Colin [Strickland] in the blend, but I’m bullish on our probabilities as mountain bikers. It is the race I want to acquire the most this 12 months. I’ve been performing my homework finding out as a great deal as doable about the race, knowing the type of exertion/electricity it will take to get, expending time out at Specialized’s get tunnel, testing distinctive machines, placing in the hours on the bicycle and making a solid intellect. The stage of mountain biking in the U.S. is high appropriate now. There are a lot of gifted males and women that I assume have the endurance, expertise and toughness to excel at Unbound. It will be entertaining to see how it shakes out.”

For Kiel Reijnen (39th at Sea Otter, 20th LTGP) who obtained tangled in a crash with Pete Stetina early in the race — only his second MTB race ever — driving out of his convenience zone is just part of the deal.

“It’s fantastic to combine it up,” he mentioned. “When I was talking to Kimo at Life Time, their strategy was to make positive that no was relaxed at each individual one race and I feel they’ll achieve that.”


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