Wisconsin course featured 2,500 feet of climbing and tight, technical singletrack
The fourth race of the 2012 Subaru-sponsored Wisconsin Off Road Series, the Battle of CamRock, was won in the singletrack and on the climbs by Nathan Guerra (Wheel & Sprocket / Vision) and Abby Strigel (HoneyStinger / Bontrager). The UCI-style BelGioioso Elite course featured a short 4.5 mile lap heavy on tight, twisting singletrack over rocky, rooty terrain, and over 2,500 feet of climbing over the five laps of the men’s race.
From the start, racers sprinted uphill for position entering the first section of singletrack. In the men’s race, Mike Phillips (Adventure 212 / Specialized) led the way followed by 2011 Champion Tristan Schouten (Rolf Prima / Giant), Guerra, Isaac Neff (Williamson Street Bicycle Works), and teammates Ben Koenig and Corey Stelljes (Bike Hub / Specialized). The field strung out as riders behind the leaders started to feel the elastic snap in the first extended section of singletrack. Phillips kept the pace high and was still leading near the end of the first lap, when Guerra moved to the front. After attacking on a steep climb bracketed by a series of bermed switchbacks, Guerra was reeled back in by Schouten and Phillips, with Neff, Stelljes and Mark Lalonde in close pursuit.
"Mikey did his pin-it-for-a-lap,” recalled Guerra. "I was head sideways wondering ‘how long are we going to do this?’ As soon as it began to slow a little, I went to the front and went as hard as I could. I think when Tristan saw I wanted to keep going, he went to the front to control the pace. I was joking with him a little, calling him ‘controller” when we were in singletrack,” laughed Guerra.
Schouten was in control until the middle of the third lap, with only Corey Stelljes able to keep pace as Guerra struggled to break away. Close behind was Mike Phillips and singlespeed racer Mark Lalonde was gaining fast. Despite low air pressure in his front tire from early in the race, Lalonde rose as high as fourth place before ultimately running the final half mile after his third flat of the day to claim 11th.
By the fourth lap, Guerra (2:00:45) broke free and opened a gap, as the lead BelGioioso Elite men entered significant lapped traffic. Stelljes (2:01:20) repeatedly attacked on exposed climbs and open sections to gap Schouten. Third place came down to a sprint between Phillips (2:03:23) and Schouten (2:03:24), with Phillips claiming third. The final podium step was claimed by Phillips’ teammate Darrin Braun (2:03:53).
In the women’s race, Series leader Abby Strigel was already working her way through the men’s field as the women entered the singletrack. Close behind was Ontario’s Susan Stephens, Robin Williams and Lori Sable. Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized) was fighting for position after a slow start.
"I wanted to really give it at the start to make sure I was ahead of people in the singletrack,” recalled Krayer. "But everyone was going so hard at the start and I didn’t have the best position. Going in to the singletrack I felt there was a gap forming between me and the leaders. I just stayed with it and it kind of settled in to Lori and I again, and then we could see Robin and we were dangling there again, trying to catch her.”
Strigel's lead was unchallenged and she rode in alone at 1:51:52, followed by Stephens at 1:54:25. Krayer (1:55:59) managed to pull ahead of Williams (1:58:18) to claim third, and the podium was completed by singlespeed newcomer Amber Markee at 1:58:40.
The Battle of CamRock also welcomed another great turnout of 14-and-under racers during WORS' Year of the Junior with 70 men and 17 women under 14 competing in the Citizen Juniors races.