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Strigel and Schouten win 2010 Wisconsin Off Road Series titles

The winners of the 2010 Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS), now in its 20th season, were honored on Saturday, October 30 at the annual awards banquet in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Elite women's overall winner Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) became the first person to ever win the WORS elite overall four times. In the men's series, Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt) was crowned 2010 elite 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 "1" number plate, he wanted the particular "1" number plate that Matter had been racing all season.

"We might have to have a little ceremony to transfer the plate," said Matter before the final WORS race of the season. "It may involve a Packers game."

Schouten first won the WORS 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-level races. This season, Schouten raced with success in the WORS elite field, on the road, and in cyclo-cross.

In June, at the Subaru Cup, a stop on the US Pro XCT, Schouten started at the very back of the men's 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 sixth ahead of racers like Carl Decker, Ryan Trebon and Sid Taberlay. After winning the WORS Series this fall, Schouten turned his attention to cyclo-cross. With repeated top-five finishes in the pro field, he has continued to do himself and Wisconsin proud through a very long season.

"I've been measuring time in seconds lately," said Schouten, who recently started a new job. "In the last month, I would kill for 10 minutes to sit on the couch."

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 haven't 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," Schouten said. "It's not easy to find a great sponsor to support you in a time like this, when the economy is not so strong. I also want to thank my coach, Gordon Paulson, for helping me to train well in only nine to 12 hours per week, so that I can still work and have a family."

When asked about his series win, Schouten laughed modestly, "I'm 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 I'm able to come out every other week and be challenged and race against so many fast guys."

I asked Schouten why this season has been especially good for him.

"Every year, I race," said Schouten. "It's who I've become, and being competitive is part of that. I think this year I've reached a greater level of maturity in my fitness and racing experience. I've gained 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, it's never easy to win. And now, a one-hour cyclo-cross race sometimes doesn't seem so bad."

Defending WORS Champ Brian Matter, too, is having an outstanding cyclo-cross 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 can't just train," said Matter. "If you just train for nine months and then want to go fast, it won't 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 it's time to race, I want to win. When it's time for Chequamegon, it's hard to keep December in mind, because I guess I just have that habit of wanting to defend my title."

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). Braun's teammate Chris Peariso took the fifth spot on the men's podium.

In addition to the success of seasoned veterans, the WORS' 2010 men's 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 men's 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, we've been riding together pretty much since we met at Crystal Ridge," said Braun. "Nate would come out to race, and I knew who he was. I was like: 'Wow, he's top five in WORS elite, that's totally cool.' 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, 'Get going! Don't let me catch you.' WORS is like that. Anybody who races WORS knows about the camaraderie."

"I'm happy," 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 10. I crushed that goal. I was a little too conservative, so that's 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 that's the thing. I'm still out there pushing hard. And there's next year."

"Darrin and I fought it out pretty hard for that second place position," said third-place finisher Nathan Guerra. "My goal was to finish again in the top five. I've been fifth now two years in a row, and this year I finished third. This season, I've gained some confidence to ride at the front more and try and win races, not just try and hang on. Now, I'm more likely to think, 'I'm going to make something happen.' I'm going out to try and win races. I've learned so much about racing this season, and about how much it matters what's in your head during the race. This season, I've been in more situations with really fast competitors, and I've 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, I'll do the US Pro XCT as well."

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," said Peariso. "I want to see, next year, if that was a fluke or maybe there's some natural ability there that I haven't tapped yet. I turn 36 today, and the sprints over and over again at WORS, I don't know. They say they're supposed to go away as you get older, but I'm still having fun out here! I'll try to hit as many WORS races as I possible can, and also try a few in the NUE Series."

Strigel takes fourth title in the women's series

In the women's 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 said afterwards, "She would have kicked my butt."

In 2010, Strigel was 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?" laughed fourth-place finisher Lori Sable before WORS Season finale at Sheboygan. "We're all trying, but I just don't know."

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 women's field at the Subaru Cup US Pro XCT. This September, Strigel rode to a career-first win at WORS Treadfest over last year's 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," said Kylander-Johnson of the sprint prime to begin WORS Sheboygan race. "She's fast, so I had to work really hard to get ahead of her and that was really good. It's great to see her going so fast."

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," said Strigel. "My bike is awesome. Every time I race it, I'm just thinking about how much faster this bike is, and how much faster I am on this bike." She also credited her teammates and sponsor at the Trek Stores of Madison for moral and mechanical support throughout the season.

While Strigel's story at WORS has been one of consistency, the breakout story of the season belongs to the second-place women's finisher, Lisa Krayer. Krayer has been a strong competitor in the WORS elite series since 2005. At 35, she's 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 four and six, have become more independent. She also credits the support of her husband Ryan Krayer, who took a career-best sixth in the men's overall this year.

"This season was everything I hoped it would be, and more," said Krayer. "When you invest so much time, you just never know what is going to happen. And it's great to feel that it was really worth it. Every year, I feel like I've improved. But, I'm not going to be able to race forever and I just thought, if not now, when?"

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, they'll have their own interests and of course I want to support that," said Lisa Krayer. "Who knows, maybe in a few years I'll 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. I'm 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."

Third-place finisher Robin Williams, of Iowa City, balanced a demanding work schedule with training and travel to finish the 2010 Series.

"It's been a goal for a couple of years now," 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. It's been fun to race with them, Lori, and all the other ladies. It's just been so much fun to race this year and then actually say: 'I finished this.'"

Lori Sable, who came on strong in the latter half of the 2010 season captured the fourth spot on the women's 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.

"I'm not one of those people who do the 'training' thing," said Sable. "So I had some catch-up to do this season, and the riding always helps. I just want to have fun."

"Darrin [Braun] turned my interview mic around on me after Sheboygan," said fifth place finisher, Cannon. "That's only fair as he's such a consistent racer that I've 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! I'm looking forward to 2011."

The top podium finishers in the elite, including five women and 10 men, collected a total of US$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-heads", 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 US Pro XCT to the Subaru Cup in June.

"In 2011, WORS will celebrate our 20th year," said Series Director Don Edberg. "We're already busy preparing for next year, meeting with sponsors and talking to our local organizers. It's sometimes hard to take a moment to reflect in the 'off-season'. But, when I do, I have to say - it's been amazing. Amazing racers. Amazing volunteers. Amazing race directors, venues and events. Amazing sponsors. It's still very much fun."

Final 2010 WORS series standings

Pro & Cat. 1 men
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Tristan Schouten (Pro)
2Darrin Braun (Pro)
3Nathan Guerra (Pro)
4Brian Matter (Pro)
5Chris Peariso (Pro)
6Ryan Krayer
7Seth Lenss
8Ben Koenig
9Ronald Stawicki (Pro)
10Ted Hanes

Pro & Cat. 1 women
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Abigail Strigel (Pro)
2Lisa Krayer
3Robin Williams
4Lori Sable
5Claire Cannon

Elite men 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Matt Gehling
2Tyler Gauthier
3Carlos Haeckel

Elite men 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Neil Swanson
2Trevor Olson
3Glenn Kirst

Elite men 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1John Lirette
2J. W. Miller
3Chad Hildebrandt

Elite women 19-34
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Michelle Peariso
2Renee Bach
3Anna Ganju

Elite women 35+
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Patti Kaufmann
2April Dombrowski
3Denise Coppock

Junior men 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Myles Beach
2Nathan Labecki
3Ben Senkerik

Junior women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Liz Shull

#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Chad Boyles
2Greg Jones
3Brent Palmer

Men 50+
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Brett Edgerle
2Kenneth Ramm
3Bob Boone

Cat. 2 men
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Patryk Limanowicz
2Joseph Maloney
3Spence Cone
4Sanjay Ganju
5Lance Wall

Cat. 2 men 19-24 comp
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Tim Racette
2Andrew Wiesner

Cat. 2 men 25-29 comp
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Eric Fossell
2Nicholas Holzem
3Michael Ziegler

Cat. 2 men 30-34 comp
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Nathan Lillie
2Mitchell Moen
3Vince Steger

Cat. 2 Men 35-39 comp
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Greg Heil
2Kurt Schwiesow
3Tyson Schwiesow

Cat. 2 Men 40-44 comp
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Dan Tavela
2Bill Burkholder
3Matt Dale

Cat. 2 Men 45-49 comp
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Glen Stroik
2Ross Lemke
3Jeff Sympson

Cat. 2 Clydesdale
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Bob Phelps
2Jeff Steckbauer
3Chris Fellows

Cat. 2 Women 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Rachael Jensen

Cat. 2 women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Emily Shull
2Nina Karinen
3Moriah Griesbach

Cat. 2 Women 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Rachel Horstman
2Cassey Lynn
3Kelli Piotrowski

Cat. 2 Women 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Sarah Agena
2Andrea Lyman
3Ann Holsen

Cat. 2 Women 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Brittany Nigh
2Sondra Klipp
3Lynne Senkerik
Rolleen Kralovec

Cat. 2 Women 50+
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Paula Liske
2Helmy Tennis
3Jenni Borell

Cat. 2 Men 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Pete Karinen
2Jordan Watkins
3Connor McColl

Cat. 2 Men 15-16 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Andrew Senderhauf
2Parker McColl
3Brandon Watkins

Cat. 2 Men 17-18 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1David Flaten
2Jordan Loeck
3Bo Schinke

Cat. 2 Men 19-24 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Eric Weidman
2Adrian Icenogle
3Josh Rupnow

Cat. 2 Men 25-29 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Patrick Scheibel
2Steve Herriges
3Jake Swenson

Cat. 2 Men 30-34 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Eric Stanke
2Dan Wierzba
3Matt Karwowski
4Jason Gibson

Cat. 2 Men 35-39 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Gabriel Ion
2John Hughes
3Patrick Dowd
4Troy Schaden

Cat. 2 Men 40-44 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Steve Kobs
2Ken Naef
3Jeff Wren
4Wade Flisram

Cat. 2 Men 45-49 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Mike Owens
2Terry Prewitt
3Kelly Skinkis
4Matt Luger

Cat. 2 Men 50-54 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Steve Kapaun
2Michael Giesen
3Jim Feuerstein

Cat. 2 Men 55-59 sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Donald Carr
2Warren Fowler
3Daniel Millin

Cat. 2 Men 60+ sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Dale Lenss
2James S. Heinecke
3Frank Lobello

Cat. 2 Clydesdale men sport
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Joel Ficke
2Daniel Trupp
3Mark Schindel

Cat. 2 singlespeed women
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Jesse Jaehnig
2Steven Schaefer
3Dustin Vande Zande

Cat. 3 women 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Sarah Gill
2Maja Holcomb
3Jordan Pellett

Cat. 3 women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Arin Lemke
2Samantha Kosarzycki

Cat. 3 Women 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Heather Marty
2Danielle Tournier
3Becky Carvin

Cat. 3 Women 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Pascalle Dumez
2Becky Rands
3Lori Baccus

Cat. 3 Women 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Caroline Warren
2Tammy Vande Zande
3Jeanne Krueger

Cat. 3 Women 50+
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Rose Lenss
2Amy Dykema
3Sue Blankenheim

Cat. 3 Men 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Fletcher Arlen
2Brandon Flisram
3Andrew Schmidt

Cat. 3 Men 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Kyle Berchem
2Jan Warren
3Tyler Feldmann

Cat. 3 Men 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Kurt Brunner
2Rob Stieber
3Martin Reza

Cat. 3 Men 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Mike Williams
2Marko Gerovac
3William Patterson
Peter Fetters

Cat. 3 Men 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Clive Warren
2Ruben Valdez
3Kevin Lisowe
Michael Laufenberg

Cat. 3 Men 50-59
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Scott Foate
2George Doty
3Wally Sniadajewski

Cat. 3 Men 60+
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Dennis Klinkert
2Ron Jansen
3Richard Wenborne

Cat. 3 Men Clydesdale
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Gary Frost
2Paul Darrington
3Scott Krueger

Cat. 3 girls 8 & under
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Leah Fletcher

Cat. 3 girls 11-12
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Megan Senderhauf
2Kaitlin Splittgerber
3Monica Gabrielson

Cat. 3 boys 8 & under
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Lucas Fletcher
2Griffin May
3Tyler Holden

Cat. 3 boys 8-10
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Nathan Knowles
2Aaron Smith
3William Darling

Cat. 3 boys 11-12
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Shane Holcomb
2Jimmy Splittgerber
3Kyle Kargel

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