Past Champions and a New Face Take Stage Wins at Hyundai Sea Otter Classic|
Saturday, April 17, 2004
MONTEREY, Calif. (April 16, 2004) – Friday at the Hyundai Sea Otter Classic, which runs through Sunday, April 18 at Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California, saw three veteran performers and one emerging star take stage wins.
In the PlayStation 2 MTB Stage Race, Kiara Bisaro (GearsRacing.com) kicked off the day’s racing with a victory in the Stage 2 Time Trial, a rare race against the clock in the off-road racing scene. Despite a minor mechanical problem, the Canadian was able to capture the first professional win of her career. Bisaro finished four seconds ahead of stage one winner and defending Sea Otter champion Alison Dunlap (Luna Women’s MTB Team), who encountered a mechanical problem of her own in the last 300 feet. Gretchen Reeves (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) placed third, 17 seconds in arrears.
In the men's event it was Seamus McGrath (Haro-adidas) of Victoria, BC, by the slimmest of margins over Britain's Liam Killeen (Subaru-Gary Fisher) - two tenths of a second. McGrath has long been known as one of mountain biking’s most consistent performers, although this was his first Sea Otter stage victory. His training partner, Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) was third, nine seconds back. Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower), the winner of stage one, finished fifth, but remains in the overall lead, only six seconds ahead of McGrath, with Kabush at 16 seconds.
Later in the afternoon, the Pro/Elite Road Stage Race saw new leaders step up to the podium. Canadian Lyne Bessette, leader of the powerful Quark team, took the overall women’s lead along with her third-straight Lagnua Seca Circuit Race, while 1998 and 2001 Sea Otter champion Trent Klasna (Sierra Nevada) took the yellow jersey as the overall leader in the men's race.
Bessette, the recent winner of the Redlands Classic stage race, then exploded out of the pack on the final lap of 17, with Tina Pic (Genesis Scuba) following Bessette’s wheel. Unable to stay in contact with Bessette, Pic held on for second place in front of Christine Thorburn (Webcor). In the overall standings, Pic now sits in second place, just 2 seconds behind Bessette, with Kristin Armstrong (T-Mobile) in third, 3 seconds off the leader’s pace. Thorburn moved from 39th to fourth on the day, now 22 seconds back.
In the men’s race, Klasna's Sierra Nevada team was in the driver's seat, with four riders in the lead group of 12, including Canadian time trial champion Eric Wohlberg, who was only a few seconds out of the leader's jersey. Wohlberg and Klasna put in a huge effort to keep the group clear of the chasing pack and, with a lap to go, Klasna attacked. Only Health Net-Maxxis's Mike Jones was able to follow Klasna, and at the line Klasna used his experience to easily take the win. His team mate Wohlberg led the remnants of the break group home 8 seconds later, with the field coming in at 17 seconds. Klasna now holds a one second lead over Jones, with Wohlberg at three seconds.
Friday afternoon also featured mountain cross qualifying heats, the kick-off of Sea Otter’s Downhill Domination Gravity Omnium. A field of 16 women was selected from 21 who raced, and 60 men made the cut from the group of 71. The top five women were: Tara Llanes (Giant/Pearl Izumi), Katrina Miller (Jamis Cycles), Sabrina Jonnier (Intense Cycles), Jamie Lilly, and Leigh Donovan (GT/Hyundai). The top five men were: Michael Robinson, Eric Carter (Mongoose/Hyundai), a Funn-Foes rider registered as "Mr. Kamakazi", Mick Hannah (Haro/adidas) and Wade Books (Trek-Volkswagen).
The Pro/Elite Road Stage Race concludes on Saturday with a 100 mile road race for both the men and women, through the Carmel and Salinas valleys. The PlayStation 2 MTB Stage Race continues Saturday with the Short Track, a spectator-friendly, intense 30 minute sprint in the dirt. The Downhill Domination Gravity Omnium will continue with Saturday’s Dual Slalom, and Dirt Jumping Invitational.
The Hyundai Sea Otter Classic is the largest cycling festival in North America, attracting nearly 10,000 participants and 50,000 spectators and participants for four days of elite and amateur competition, fun rides, riding demonstrations and a Tech Expo.
About Sea Otter Classic LLC
Sea Otter LLC specializes in promoting outdoor sports festival events. The Company’s premier property is the Sea Otter Classic Cycling Festival, held April 15-18 at Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California. Now in its 14th year, this has become the USA’s largest cycling festival, attracting some 10,000 entries, over 50,000 spectators, and 200 journalists from 15 nations. The newest sports festival promoted by Sea Otter Classic LLC is the California Outdoor Sports Championships, organized in partnership with Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, California. More information is at www.seaotterclassic.com. Participant hotline number: (650) 364-7612
About Hyundai Motor America
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai cars and sport utility vehicles are distributed in the U.S. by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced by more than 625 dealers nationwide.