WORS #5 Red Flint Firecracker
Posted by: Jen Hanks
|July 16, 2012 11:51 PM
Gauthier and Sauber win at WORS Red Flint Firecracker
Series leaders Matter and Strigel absentThe fifth race of the 2012 Subaru-sponsored Wisconsin Off Road Series, the Red Flint Firecracker, was won by Tyler Gauthier (Culver’s Racing) and Rebecca Sauber (Leopard/LCR). The course in Eau Claire was expanded this year to include a new lead out dirt-jump / pump track section, new singletrack, and increased passing and fast open sections. Excitement about the new course was only amplified on the start line of the BelGioioso Elite fields, as Series Leaders Brian Matter and Abby Strigel were both absent.
"I think we were all drooling at the start line, because there was no Abby,” joked Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized) after the race.
In the women’s race, a lead group of six women led by Sauber and Krayer remained together through the dirt jumps and out of the first section of singletrack. The race began to come apart in the open as Sauber and Krayer pushed the pace, with singlespeed racer Amber Markee (Magnus) hanging on until a crash in the singletrack brought her back to the chase group. In the chase, Lori Sable and teammates Sarah Agena-Wright and Michelle Peariso (Adventure 212 / Specialized) worked together to pull the leaders in. Back on her bike, Markee worked through the chase to solo in pursuit of Krayer and Sauber.
"I know Rebecca is strong and on the start line it was in the back of my mind that she could take this,” recalled Krayer. "I wanted to stay with her as long as I could, and on the first lap I rode over my limit. The second lap, we were back and forth, but then the third lap I knew I just couldn’t keep that pace today.”
The entire WORS field was feeling the effects of an intense race at the Battle of CamRock the week previous, which included over 2,000 feet of climbing for the women.
Meanwhile at the front, Markee challenged Sauber and took the race lead. A bobble in singletrack reversed their fortunes again and Sauber put the hammer down to ride in alone. Markee took second and Krayer, Sable and Agena-Wright rounded out the women’s Elite podium.
The BelGioioso Elite men’s field was sizeable with over 55 racers on the start line, but the absence of leaders Brian Matter, Tristan Schouten, Mark Lalonde and Nathan Guerra raised the stakes for all remaining, as a "win" was clearly up for grabs. Knowing that Adventure 212 / Specialized teammates would likely work for 2011 Firecracker winner Mike Phillips against contenders Isaac Neff (Williamson Bicycle Works), Corey Stelljes (The Bike Hub / Specialized) and Tyler Guathier, the men's field put the hammer down into the first section of singletrack. Phillips, Gauthier and Neff broke away in the bottleneck as Adventure 212 / Specialized teammates Chris Peariso and Darrin Braun allowed a gap to form to the lead group ahead before exiting the first length of singletrack.
"Isaac, myself and Mike Phillips grabbed a gap after the dirt jumps and I knew that Phillips’ teammates were sitting around 4th and 5th wheel and weren’t going to chase us down,” recalled Gauthier. "After that Isaac went to the front and hit it hard and we kept that gap through the first lap.”
Once the singletrack opened, Kevin McConnell (Mercy-Specialized) began the chase, accompanied by Darrin Braun, and Matt Gehling (Team Wisconsin). Corey Stelljes caught the chase within the first lap, while at the front of the race Isaac Neff took a tumble, leaving Phillips and Gauthier alone. Neff joined the chase but was ultimately sidelined by a flat. Gauthier was at the front through most of the race, with Phillips content to bide his time.
"I came through on lap two and just tried to keep the pace hard,” explained Gauthier. "I noticed that Phillips was comfortable sitting in and I was fine with that because I wanted to continue to control the pace and keep us working hard.”
Phillips and Gauthier were still off the front together entering their fourth lap, with McConnell, Stelljes and Braun in pursuit. The gap was beginning to close and when Guathier felt he had an advantage he upped the pace to ride in alone (2:05)49). Phillips rolled in second at 2:06:15, while Braun (2:06:19) won the battle of the chase to claim third. Stelljes (2:06:26) and McConnell (2:06:26) rounded out the podium.
The next race of the Wisconsin Off Road Series will be held in three weeks at the Alterra Coffee Bean Classic outside Milwaukee, WI.
For complete results go here.