by Claire Cannon
Winners in the 2010 Subaru-sponsored WORS Series, now in it's 20th
season, were honored on October 30 at the annual WORS Awards Banquet in Stevens
Point, WI. BelGioioso Elite Series overall winner Abby Strigel (Trek
Stores of Madison) is now the first person to ever win the WORS BelGioioso
Elite Overall four times. In the menís series, Tristan Schouten (Mafia /
Felt) was crowned 2010 WORS Elite Series overall winner.
For Schouten, 2010 was his third overall win of the WORS Series,
bringing him equal with defending champ Brain Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) at
three Series titles apiece. The two racers both call Sheboygan home
and, earlier in the season, Schouten had joked with Matter that, not only did
he want the "1Ē number plate, he wanted the particular "1Ē number plate that
Matter had been racing all season.
"We might have to have a little ceremony to transfer the plate,Ē said
Matter before the final WORS race of the season. "It may involve a
Schouten first won the WORS BelGioioso Elite overall in 2001 when he was
only 19, making him the youngest overall winner in WORS history. He won
again in 2002, and then shifted his focus for several year to national races.
This season, Schouten has raced with success in the WORS Pro / Cat 1 Elite
field, on the road, and in cyclocross.
In June, at the Subaru Cup Pro XCT, Schouten started at the very back of
the menís Pro race and worked his way through a 60+ man field to finish in 11th
place. The following day at the Short Track, he was narrowly edged from
the podium by Todd Wells, and took 6th ahead of racers like Carl Decker, Ryan
Trebon and Sid Taberlay. After winning the WORS Series this fall,
Schouten has turned his attention to cyclocross. With repeated top-5
finishes in the Pro field, he has continued to do himself and Wisconsin proud
through a very long season.
"Iíve been measuring time in seconds lately,Ē wrote Schouten, who
recently started a new job. "In the last month, I would kill for 10
minutes to sit on the couch.Ē
Schouten credits his wife, Jamie, for her incredible support throughout
his racing season and singled out his sponsors, including Mafia Racing and Felt
Bicycles, for helping him make a successful bid at the WORS Overall title.
"I havenít had a mechanical all year, and with the schedule we set, I
could not have afforded to miss a single WORS race because of bike trouble,Ē he
observed. "Itís not easy to find a great sponsor to support you in a time
like this, when the economy is not so strong, and Iím grateful to Mafia and
Felt. I also want to thank my coach, Gordon Paulson, for helping me to
train well in only 9-12 hours a week, so that I can still work and have a
When asked about his Series win, Schouten laughed modestly: "Iím pretty
happy with my finish in the WORS Overall. This has probably been one of
my best seasons ever. I raced WORS this season for the competition.
Our local racing series is one of the best series in the country, and Iím able
to come out every other week and be challenged and race against so many fast
I asked Schouten why this season has been especially good for him.
"Every year, I race,Ē said Schouten. "Itís who Iíve become, and being
competitive is part of that. I think this year Iíve reached a greater
level of maturity in my fitness and racing experience. Iíve gain a lot of
experience from racing so often for years. Also, racing both at WORS and
on the road this season helped me to build my fitness on the weekends.
With the high level of competition at WORS, itís never easy to win. And
now, a one-hour cyclocross race sometimes doesnít seem so bad.Ē
Defending WORS Champ Brian Matter, too, is having an outstanding
cyclocross season in 2010, and credited some of his race-readiness this fall to
the challenge of Midwest mountain bike competition and frequent WORS races.
"You canít just train,Ē said Matter. "If you just train for 9
months and then want to go fast, it wonít happen. This year, it was hard
to start my season later than ever and train though so many WORS races.
It was hard physically and especially mentally, because even though my big goal
right now is in December, whenever itís time to race, I want to win. When
itís time for Chequamegon, itís hard to keep December in mind, because I guess
I just have that habit of wanting to defend my title.Ē
Matter did defend his title at the Chequamegon 40 this year, finishing
seconds ahead of Schouten. He ended the WORS season in fourth overall,
behind relative newcomers Darrin Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized) and Nathan
Guerra (Mr. Tree Racing / PowerBar). Braunís teammate Chris Peariso took
the fifth spot on the menís podium.
In addition to the success of seasoned veterans, the WORSí 2010 men's
BelGioioso Elite Series has been a story of fresh talent pushing the
competition. Darrin Braun and Nathan Guerra battled all year for the
second step on the menís podium. Like Schouten and Matter, the two are
fierce rivals on the course and friends and occasional training partners
between races. Guerra, who has raced in the WORS Elite field since 2005,
was among those who initially encouraged Braun to enter WORS competition after
riding with him at a local time trial.
"Nate and I, weíve been riding together pretty much since we met at
Crystal Ridge,Ē explained Braun. "Nate would come out to race, and I knew
who he was. I was like: ĎWow, heís top five in WORS Elite, thatís totally
cool.í I like riding with Nate, and out there, we encourage each other.
Like during our race, I'll be chasing him and I saying to him, ĎGet going!
Donít let me catch you.í WORS is like that. Anybody who races WORS
knows about the camaraderie.Ē
"Iím happy,Ē said Braun after the Series finale. "I did want to
win the Series. I gave it a good try. Last year, I set my goal as
top ten. I crushed that goal. I was a little too conservative, so
thatís why I set my goal at first this year. Things did change, with a
new job and no structured training since June. But I stuck with it and
thatís the thing. Iím still out there pushing hard. And thereís
"Darrin and I fought it out pretty hard for that second place position,Ē
said third-place finisher Nathan Guerra. "My goal was to finish again in
the top five. Iíve been fifth now two years in a row, and this year I
finished third. This season, Iíve gained some confidence to ride at the
front more and try and win races, not just try and hang on. Now, Iím more
likely to think: ĎIím going to make something happen.í Iím going out to
try and win races. Iíve learned so much about racing this season, and
about how much it matters whatís in your head during the race. This
season, Iíve been in more situations with really fast competitors, and Iíve
learned how to think about those situations and respond to them. In 2011,
I plan to do a full WORS Series and, if we can make it work with family and
finances, Iíll do the Pro XCT as well.Ē
Fifth-place finisher Chris Peariso also plans to return to the WORS
Series while adding some National races to his event calendar for 2011.
"I had a second at the Cohutta 100 this year,Ē said Peariso. "I
want to see, next year, if that was a fluke or maybe thereís some natural
ability there that I havenít tapped yet. I turn 36 today, and the sprints
over and over again at WORS, I donít know. They say theyíre supposed to
go away as you get older, but Iím still having fun out here! Iíll try to
hit as many WORS races as I possible can, and also try a few in the NUE Series.Ē
Strigel takes fourth Overall Title in the womenís series
In the womenís Series, Abigail Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) has been
exceptionally modest this season about her dominance of the competition.
When a mechanical at the season opener sidelined former Series winner Kim Eppen
(Mercy-Specialized), Strigel commented afterwards that: "She would have kicked
my butt.Ē In 2010, Strigel has been challenged by consistent local
competition more often than during the previous two years, particularly by
second-place finisher Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized), who took third
at the Chequamegon 40 this year and pushed Strigel at several WORS races in
2010. Despite her modesty, the Madison racer had another impressive year
in 2010 and, at 27, seems poised for many successful seasons to come.
"Can she be beaten?Ē laughed fourth-place finisher Lori Sable before
WORS Season finale at Sheboygan. "Weíre all trying, but I just donít
While Strigel is the woman to beat in Wisconsin, she also had an
impressive showing among national competitors. With a back-row start,
Strigel finished in 13th place in a very strong Pro Womenís field at the Subaru
Cup Pro XCT. This September, Strigel rode to a career-first win at WORS
Treadfest over last yearís winner Kim Eppen, and at the season finale in
Sheboygan, challenged Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek CO-OP) for the lead.
"Abigail led the start, and then we sprinted,Ē recalled Kylander-Johnson
of the Sprint Prime to begin WORSí Sheobygan race. "Sheís fast, so I had to
work really hard to get ahead of her and that was really good. Itís great
to see her going so fast.Ē
Strigel unabashedly credited her new bike, a Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL, with
helping to make 2010 her fastest year yet.
"I love my bike,Ē laughed Strigel. "My bike is awesome. Every time
I race it, Iím just thinking about how much faster this bike is, and how much
faster I am on this bike.Ē She also credited her teammates and sponsor at
the Trek Stores of Madison for moral and mechanical support throughout the
While Strigelís story at WORS has been one of consistency, the breakout
story of the 2010 WORS season belongs to the second-place womenís finisher,
Lisa Krayer. Krayer has been a strong competitor in the WORS BelGioioso
Elite series since 2005. At 35, sheís just raced her best season to date,
challenging Strigel for the win in several races and locking in her hold on
second relatively early in the season.
Krayer credits her success in 2010 to better training and greater
off-bike rest as her two daughters, ages 4 and 6, have become more independent.
She also credits the support of her husband Ryan Krayer, who took a career-best
6th in the menís Overall this year.
"This season was everything I hoped it would be, and more,Ē said Lisa
Krayer. "When you invest so much time, you just never know what is going
to happen. And itís great to feel that it was really worth it.
Every year, I feel like Iíve improved. But, Iím not going to be able to
race forever and I just thought, if not now, when?Ē
The Krayers, who are cheered on by their daughters during races, have
done an amazing job of balancing family fun and Elite competition at WORS.
"As our girls get older, theyíll have their own interests and of course
I want to support that,Ē said Lisa. "Who knows, maybe in a few years Iíll
be setting up my trainer on the side of a soccer field. There are a few
things I want to try out and improve on next year. Iím really looking
forward to it. Being able to ride with Abby at some of the races this
year, it was really an eye-opener for me. And taking third at the
Chequamegon 40 will help keep me motivated for next season.Ē
Third-place finisher Robin Williams, of Iowa City, balanced a demanding
work schedule with training and travel to finish the 2010 Series.
"Itís been a goal for a couple of years now,Ē said Williams, who races
for Mercy-Specialized. "I had no expectation for where I would fall out
in the overall because there are so many tough women in the Series. Abby
and Lisa have ridden so strong this year and they are great competitors.
Itís been fun to race with them, Lori, and all the other ladies. Itís
just been so much fun to race this year and then actually say: ĎI finished
Lori Sable, who came on strong in the latter half of the 2010 season
captured the fourth spot on the womenís Podium while Claire Cannon (Trek Stores
of Madison) claimed fifth. The two were closely matched throughout the season.
While Cannon had a lead early, Sable dominated the later races.
"Iím not one of those people who do the Ďtrainingí thing,Ē laughed
Sable. "So I had some catch-up to do this season, and the riding always
helps. I just want to have fun.Ē
"Darrin [Braun] turned my interview mic around on me after Sheboygan,Ē
admitted 5th place finisher, Cannon. "Thatís only fair as he's such a
consistent racer that Iíve interviewed him after every race this season.
Under questioning, I had to admit that the later part of this WORS season has
been less than ideal for me. I had some issues with illness at the worst
times and took some beatings on the course. But I also had an absolutely
great time out there, maybe even when I was getting beat. It made me
realize how much I value being able to ride and compete with the ladies in my
field. And it made me want to not get beat! Iím looking forward to
The top podium finishers in the BelGioioso Elite Series, including 5
women and 10 men, collected a total of $17,000 in prizes at the WORS Series
Awards Banquet. Over 250 racers competed on 23 teams in the WORS Teams
Competitions, and 55 Series racers were recognized as "WORS-headsĒ, having
attended all 12 races in the 2010 Series. Series racers of every level
took home nearly $12,000 in prizes from WORS Sponsors during the raffle.
The 2011 WORS season was also announced, and highlights will include a new
venue in the Madison area, and a return of the Pro XCT to the Subaru Cup in
"In 2011, WORS will
celebrate our 20th year,Ē said Series Director Don Edberg. "Weíre already
busy preparing for next year, meeting with sponsors and talking to our local
organizers. Itís sometimes hard to take a moment to reflect in the Ďoff-seasoní.
But, when I do, I have to say - itís been amazing. Amazing racers.
Amazing volunteers. Amazing race directors, venues and events.
Amazing sponsors. Itís still very much fun.Ē