- Dave McElwaine
Juarez to defend the series lead; Mata favored in women's race
Round two of US Pro Ultra Endurance Tour (US Pro UET) will take place on Sunday in the Cleveland Mountains east of San Diego, California. The 50-mile event will piggyback onto round one of the US Cup's new 50-miler series.
The course will essentially be the one used in 2010 that features two 26-mile loops, a climb up Los Pinos Mountain, and a mix of fire roads and singletrack. Riders will begin their assault on Los Pinos Mountain from Lake Morena County Park. Climbing totals 7,000 feet for the 50-mile racers.
Hall of Famer Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) and Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) are the series leaders and will headline the event. Both won the first round of the US Pro UET held in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bryan Fawley (Orbea-Tuff Shed), currently second in the series, is expected to race along with Kip Biese and Eric Bostrom (Sho-Air-Specialized).
Mata will be considered the heavy favorite in the women's race. She recently displayed her fitness by beating the likes of Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) in the Whiskey 50. Mata was particularly fast on the descents. In round one of the Pro UET she beat Andrea Wilson by over 25 minutes.
The Sagebrush Safari, typically held in late February, was nearly cancelled last year by a freak snowstorm. Legendary race promoter and course designer Tom Spiegel (Team Big Bear) laid out an entirely new course in the hours just prior to the race. Racers had to deal not only with the snow, but also mud, and deep stream crossings.
Amateurs will also have the option to race a one-lap 25-mile race. Perennial Cat. 1 contenders Ty Kady (Sho-Air) and Justin Mann (Bikes for Boobs) have opted for the shorter distance. Both have been trying to convince the other that they simply have not had time to train properly. Mann easily won the Whiskey 25 men's open by over eight minutes. He recently posted on FaceBook about his new job, "Rough days. 10hrs straight at the desk with no lunch break just so that I can bust out at the end of the day for a 2-hour ride before it got dark."
Races start at 10:00 am on Sunday. Cyclingnews will be on hand to provide you with results and photos.