Jason Sager and Sara
Kylander-Johnson Take Overall Stage Race Titles at
Mother Nature delivered a perfect weekend of weather and Maplelag Resort
delivered on near perfect racing as new stage race titles went to Jason
Sager (Team Jamis) of Ogden, UT and Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek CO-OP)
of Duluth, MN. after two days of racing over three events, time trial,
short track and cross country during the Laddies Loppet Mountain Bike
Stage race weekend, part of the USAC-MTB National Calendar series.
Maplelag Resort was celebrating 20 years of promoting mountain bike
races. The course presents itself as one of the most technical courses
in the Midwest including tight and twisty singletrack and the infamous
lakeside drops near Little Sugarbush lake. The majority of racers stay
at the resort that was filled entirely by mountain bike racers that met
at meal times for all you can eat family style meals with five
bottomless cookie jars to boot, keeping the racers fueled.
Sager and SKJ Take Two of
Three en Route to Overall Titles.
Jason Sager (Team Jamis) flew in from Utah Friday morning to partake in
the weekends events after hearing from fellow Pros who raced in the
Maplelag UCI Spring Opener in 1997 as an venue to check out. Sager wasted
no time in showing the Midwest fast guys he would be need to be taken seriously
as he posted the winning time, one of only three riders to break the 10 minute
barrier, with a time of 9:49.86. Texas Roadhouse Pro Adam Bergman came
in second and Maplelag time trial course record holder Brendan Moore
(Trek-Co-Op) (who set the winning time last year at 9:36) crossed third
just hundredths of a second behind Bergman. Pat Lemieux (Texas
Roadhouse) and Doug Swanson (Grandstay) rounded out the top five.
In the women's race, Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek Co-Op) posted the
surprising fast time followed by Jenna Rinehart (Specialized) who had
set the course record last year. Rebecca Sauber (LCR/Egon) Corey
Coogan-Cisek (Maplelag Resort/Paramount) and Jennifer Fisher (Rochester
Velo) rounded out the top five. Post race riders were commented on
"burning lungs" as temps in the mid 40's at start time were
degrees cooler than what racers have been accustomed to on most race
weekends in the Midwest this summer.
After feasting on a meal of fresh home made bread and chicken noodle
soup, racers hit to the popular spectating short track event for late
afternoon racing. Temps had climbed in to the middle 60's, light breeze
and a beautiful fall sun with deep blue skies making for perfect racing
and spectating conditions. With established road Pros Bergman and
Lemieux inking at registration, the mountain bikers knew to expect a
fast and furious race. The short track was designated by USA Cycling as
the official state championship for short track.
Exciting racing was delivered in all the classes. Gaps opened up quickly
in the Elite class as Bergman, Lemieux, Swanson, Sager and Moore broke
free from the chase groups to establish themselves as the main group on
the day. Each rider exchanged attacks at the front except for Moore, as
he was content, and doing everything he could, to just keep the Swanson,
Bergman, Sager and Lemieux group in check. Having won previous short
tracks at Maplelag, spectators were putting their money on the savvy
Swanson who holds state titles in cyclocross, road and numerous top 10
short track placings back in the day on the NORBA National circuit.
Swanson delivered as he made his move the start of the final lap,
attacking the group and moving to the front, holding off the group
companions to take his fourth short track title at Maplelag and
Minnesota State Champion title.
The Women Elite riders lined up with the Comp (Cat 2) men. Jenna
Rinehart and Sara Kylander-Johnson were animators at the front among the
men as a large group stayed together from the field making for one of
the most exciting races on the day. Kylander-Johnsons last move with two
laps to go setting pace at the front was hard and fast enough to hold
off all the men as well as Rinehart as SKJ went home with the state
title. Rounding out the top five were Sauber, Anna Schappert (Bikes
Beyond-Winnipeg) and Fisher.
Sunday's cross country was the main event on the weekend which also
served as the point getter for the Minnesota Mountain Bike Cross Country
Series. Mother Nature delivered another gorgeous day as a record number
of "Kids Comp" racers kicked off the racing action with three
rolling fun. In the Elite races, Sager wasted no time moving to the
front as he and Sam Oftedahl (Maplelag Resort-Paramount) set a
blistering pace coming through the first of three laps in about 3
minutes faster that what race organizers were expecting. Moore rode
steady and strong and eventually passed Oftedahl to move up to second
and closed the gap down to Sager who held off the charging Moore by 37
seconds. Oftedahl would hold on to third as Saturdays short track
winner, Swanson, rode steady and strong to move up to fourth.
Singletrack specialist Scott Kylander-Johnson, having one of his best
seasons ever, rounded out the top five. Top Jr rider on the day was Jake
Richards (Maplelag Resort-Paramount) who stuck on with Swanson's wheel
as long as he could before popping on the last lap to slide back to 9th.
With Kylander-Johnson taking the first two events, the Duluth rider and
mother of a baby girl, pretty much had the overall wrapped up barring a
major disaster. This didn't stop Rinehart, however, from putting
everything out there and scorching to an impressive win and riding a
pace which would of put her in the top 20 among the men.
Kylander-Johnson held on to second as Sauber rode to another third place
finish with Fisher and Coogan-Cisek rounding out the top five,
After the three events, Sager took the overall among the men with Moore,
Swanson, Bergman and Oftedahl rounding out the podium. Kylander-Johnson
scored the bubbly for the overall with Rinehart, Sauber, Fisher and
Cisek completing the top five.
Stage race results
Time Trial Results
Short Track Results
Cross Country Results
Notable riders to miss this years race include TJ Woodruff of Tucson,
AZ. who had collected the stage race title the previous three years and
Jack Hinkens of Eden Prairie, MN. Woodruff currently is in France for
all of September and October as part of a research study being conducted
on the 'live high, train low' altitude principle. Hinkens, who had
collected two wins on the Minnesota circuit in xc racing action, was
competing at the World Championships where he recorded a 45th finish in
the u23 and third American.
Minnesota Pro Kyia Anderson, who recently retired from racing this year,
led a skills clinic with her husband Kris in between Saturday's event
helping riders with technical skills on the infamous lakeside drops.
With Maplelag located just three hours from the Canadian border, a nice
size group of Canucks made the trip south with a large contingent of
"Kids Comp" racers.
ESPN X Games Sno Cross Champion, Tucker Hibbert, made an appearance on
race day posting a top 20 finish in the Comp class.