Sauser sprints to Whiskey 50 victory

Woodruff defends home court advantage

Marathon world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) was pushed to his limit at the Whiskey 50, but again showed why he is the best in the world at this distance. He credited the fitness gained at the Cape Epic, along with his knowledge about hydration, flat tire avoidance, and having a superior downhill/singletrack bike in winning the $6,500 first place prize.

It was a great day for Specialized, placing three riders among the top five finishers. Todd Wells (Specialized), who had earlier been dropped by Sauser, finished second in the final sprint to the finish. Canadian champion Derek Zandstra (Scott 3Rox Racing), who did much of the work in hunting down Sauser, claimed third place. Fernando Riveros Paez (Scott-Rotor USA), the only rider who could match Sauser on the climb out of Skull Valley, finished fourth after fading on the downhill singletrack. Howard Grottts (Specialized) again proved he is a climbing machine by nailing down fifth place.

The 50-mile course begins with a six-mile pavement climb out of Prescott. While the pace seemed moderate, the peloton was split by the time they got to the dirt section of the course. Todd Wells led in the early going with Paez glued to his wheel. Sauser, Grotts, Zandstra, Grotts, Carl Decker (Team Giant), and Alex Grant (Sho-Air Cannondale) were never far behind. Wells was first to crest the mountain pass that begins a descent in to Copper Basin and Skull Valley, but Paez, Sauser, and Zandstra were with him. Grotts had been gapped by up to a minute, while Grant and Decker had lost even more on the climb.

When the riders reach the bottom of Skull Valley, they make a U-turn and then must climb 12 miles back up the mountain. Sauser decided to make a decisive move on the climb. He said, "I attacked on the middle of the long climb and Fernando and I got away. Then we got a pretty good gap."

Sauser then attacked Paez one mile from the top. "I knew at the top that I would have to go in front of him on the singletrack (descent) because he wouldn't be that fast technically," said Sauser

Behind the leaders, Grotts made up his lost time on the long climb and joined the chasers. Surprisingly, both Wells and Grotts (Sauser's teammates) could be seen at times on the front of the chase group as they closed the gap to Sauser. Derek Zandstra later credited Grotts in helping to chase down Paez, who had been dropped by Sauser.

Just before the long singletrack descent off the mountain, Sauser had a bit of a shock. He said, "I was just keeping myself really safe, no mistakes, no flat tires - then before the left corner to the downhill I looked back and Todd and Zandstra came. I thought they were far back so I got a big fright and pedaled really hard."

The final run into the finish is on pavement. Sauser was able to hold off a charging Zandstra for the win. Geoff Kabush, last year's winner, was never really in contention as he was recovering from a recent illness. His teammate Zandstra took up much of the slack, first by winning Friday night's fat boy criterium and then by nearly pulling off an upset in the Whiskey 50 itself.

Elite women

The women started 10 minutes behind the men's field, which meant that the leaders would catch and pass many of the slower men and have to deal with getting around them on the singletrack sections of the course. All eyes were on Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team), who finished second last year, over seven minutes ahead of anyone else in this year's field. She led onto the initial singletrack and seemed strong as she towed along Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com), Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com, and Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's).

However, this was clearly Woodruff's day to shine. She led over the first big climb and onto the descent to Skull Valley. Huck lost contact with the leaders as they came through the gap, but made up her losses on the descent into Copper Basin as the leaders sat up a bit. Dong made her move on the 12-mile climb, which clearly put Nash in distress. Woodruff and Huck kept Dong close, however.

Woodruff, who now lives in Prescott, has ridden these trails dozens of times and knows them like the back of her hand. She said, "We had a great group. Erin, Evelyn and I were together at the top of the climb. I've ridden that downhill so many times I just tried to think and said, hey, it's just another time down the mountain."

"So, I got away on the descent but Erin caught me on Cramp Hill, where I was on the verge of cramping. I was able to get around her but she caught me again on the flat coming back in. I think she went a little too soon."

Woodruff, who was riding for the new Backcountry.com team and in support of The Arizona Nature Conservancy, was emotional as she explained her victory to the media. "It's a wonderful community here. We came up here the first time because of the Whiskey and each year we stayed a little longer. We moved up here about a year ago - and there's no better place to ride a bike."

At the end of the day, Huck could be proud of her strong second place effort. Evelyn Dong finished third followed by Nash in fourth place, while Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus) took fifth place.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christoph Sauser (Specialized)2:58:35 
2Todd Wells (Specialized)0:00:02 
3Derek Zandstra (Scott)  
4Fernando Riveros Paez (Scott-Rotor USA)0:01:13 
5Howard Grotts (Specialized)0:02:26 
6Carl Decker (Giant Bicycles)0:04:55 
7Markus Bauer (Shimano)0:06:07 
8Alex Grant (Team Sho-Air/Cannondale)0:07:33 
9Spencer Paxson (Kona Bicycles)0:08:41 
10Barry Wicks (Kona)  
11Chris Baddick (Red Ace Organics)  
12Rotem Ishay (Jamis Bikes)  
13Thomas Turner (Jamis)0:08:42 
14Jonathan Mccarty (Scott Bikes. Durata Training.)0:08:43 
15Brian Matter (Trek)0:08:59 
16Tom Sampson (Adigga Racing)0:09:07 
17Menso De Jong0:10:02 
18Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh / Clement)0:10:28 
19Cole Oberman (RareDiseaseCycling.org)0:11:13 
20Cameron Chambers (podium cycles)0:11:19 
21Tj Woodruff (Backcountry.com)0:11:45 
22Benjamin Sonntag (Stan's NoTubes)0:12:00 
23Bryan Dillon (Griggs Orthopedics)0:12:24 
24Bryan Alders (Marin Bikes)0:12:49 
25Kris Sneddon (Kona)0:13:26 
26Ernie Watenpaugh (Jack Daniel's)0:14:53 
27Samuel Morrison (Red Ace Organics)0:14:56 
28Jason Siegle (Sdg)0:15:00 
29Bryson Perry (DNA Cycling)0:15:02 
30Sepp Kuss (BMC)0:15:59 
31Peter Kalmes (HoneyStinger)0:17:09 
32Troy Wells (Clif Bar)  
33Anthony Smith (Team Santa Cruz X-Fusion)0:17:15 
34Jason Sager (Backcountry.com)0:17:41 
35Geoff Kabush (Scott)  
36Tristan Uhl (787 racing)0:17:42 
37Kyle Taylor (Ergon)0:19:29 
38Keith Omundson (Evol)0:20:15 
39Josh Tostado (santa cruz)0:20:35 
40Chris Jackson (Castex Rentals)0:21:22 
41Ben Bostrom (Specialized)0:21:50 
42Kalan Beisel (Giant-Tuff Shed)0:21:53 
43Yuki Ikeda (Topeak)0:22:49 
44Dana Weber (Stage 21)0:24:00 
45Christhian Ravelo (Colorado Bike Service)0:25:24 
46Jakub Valigura (92 Fifty\ Cyclery)0:25:25 
47Nate Wilson0:25:35 
48Steven Beeler (Area 51)0:25:56 
49Greg Lewis0:27:04 
50Joseph Clemenzi (Sports Garage Cycling)0:27:15 
51Tyler Gauthier (Bike Marquette)0:28:27 
52Richie Trent (92Fifty\ Cyclery)0:30:04 
53Ryan Standish (Lapierre Bikes)0:30:05 
54Gabriel Ion0:30:11 
55Quinn Keogh (Harmony Systems)0:30:15 
56Ryan Petry (Tribe Multisport)0:30:19 
57Jeff Kerkove (Ergon)0:31:24 
58Nick Gould0:32:26 
59Kacey Campbell (marlboro)0:34:44 
60Jason Hilimire (FasCat Coaching)0:35:11 
61Matt Connors (DNC Cycling)0:35:13 
62Levi Kurlander (Trek Bicycles / Ska Brewing Company)0:36:12 
63Matthew Turner0:37:28 
64Jonathan Davis (92Fifty)0:38:10 
65Stephan Davoust (San Juan Cycles)0:38:21 
66Adam Looney (Borealis Fat Bikes)0:39:37 
67John Salskov (SLM Coaching)0:40:54 
68Noah Singer0:41:18 
69Matthew Fox (mom)0:42:08 
70Ryan Cook (Parkside cycle)0:42:50 
71Rocky Gingg (Momentum Endurance)0:44:41 
72Jon Pettit (Sram)0:47:44 
73Chris Mackay0:48:15 
74Colby Pastore (Santa Cruz Bicycles)0:49:17 
75Michael Dickinson (SpecialEd)0:56:37 
76Eliel Anttila (Marin Bikes)1:07:37 
77Sam Gross (Harmony Systems)1:09:18 
78Zach Spinhirne-martin1:11:53 
79Cody Johler (My day job. Wyoming.)1:17:59 
80Donny Warbritton (Boulder Running Company)1:29:10 
81Rick Ianniello (POC and Yeti)1:31:26 
Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com)3:37:14 
2Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes)0:00:01 
3Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com)0:00:29 
4Katerina Nash0:02:44 
5Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus)0:07:46 
6Crystal Anthony (Riverside Cycle)0:07:52 
7Amy Beisel (Liv/Giant)0:10:49 
8Mary Mcconneloug (Kenda Stan's NoTubes)0:11:18 
9Danelle Kabush (Luna)0:11:22 
10Heidi Rentz (Ibis Cycles)0:11:50 
11Erin Alders (Liv/Giant)0:16:38 
12Erica Tingey (Jamis Bicycles)0:18:59 
13Jamie Busch (Juliana Bicycles/Fox Racing/Giro)0:19:12 
14Amanda Sin (Scott)0:19:46 
15Rebecca Dussault (MassStart.org)0:20:50 
16Karen Jarchow (Ptarmigan Group LLC)0:21:09 
17Marlee Dixon (Epic Brewing)0:22:20 
18Amanda Carey (Liv/Giant)0:25:55 
19Lyndsay Mckeever0:27:04 
20Deidre York (Red Ace Organics)0:27:47 
21Sarah Kaufmann (Stan's NoTubes)0:27:54 
22Kata Skaggs (Adventure Bicycle Company)0:29:01 
23Jennifer Smith (Stan's NoTubes)0:29:02 
24April Morgan (Foundry Cycles / Bicycle Fit Guru)0:31:55 
25Nina Baum (Stan's NoTubes)0:33:08 
26Beth Utley (Oro Valley Bicycle)0:40:30 
27Shannon Gibson0:41:32 
28Melissa Ross (My Husband Aaron Ross)0:41:59 
29Liz Carrington (Hassle Free Sports (Durango))0:43:41 
30Elizabeth Sampey (Heights Performance/Griggs Orthopedics)0:47:29 
31Caroline Mani (Raleigh / Clement)0:50:29 
32Meghan Korol (The Hub/Pisgah Tavern)0:50:57 
33Spring Clegg (Us military cycling)1:00:05 
34Stephanie Jones (Liv/Giant)1:20:56 
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