By Steve Medcroft
The Sea Otter Classic, a Monterey, California-based cycling festival and racing venue, got underway Wednesday morning as more than 250 vendors claimed their expo spaces and dozens of pro road and mountain bike teams made camp, dirt jump and trials exhibitionists dialed in their workstations and event organizer's prepared for expected crowds of over 50,000.
Held on the Laguna Seca Recreation Area (home of the Laguna-Seca auto raceway), the event is traditionally the launching pad of both the 2006 U.S. mountain-bike season and an opportunity for the cycling industry to release it's newest product lines.
Mountain bike stage race
Pro mountain bike racing begins Thursday with a sixty-minute Super XC; a multi-lap circuit race held on a mixture of dirt tracks and Laguna Seca raceway's famous corkscrew turns. Followed by a two-mile time trial on Friday, short track on Saturday, the MTB stage race (which will be scored as a points-bases omnium) culminates with the marquee pro cross country races on Sunday.
At last year's Sea Otter, Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis/Turner) and Englishman Liam Killeen (Specialized) went one-two in Sunday cross-country race. Both went onto to success in 2005. Kabush pretty much dominates the U.S. scene while Killeen focused on international competition; scoring his first-ever world cup win in the marathon in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec. The same pair have been making news already in 2006, although not for the same reasons.