Long known as a stop on the now defunct National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) calendar, the Santa Ynez Valley Classic will host the final round of the US Cup Triple Crown All Mountain series this weekend, June 4-5.
The rolling hills just north of Santa Barbara have had their share of battles over the years, and this weekend looks to be no different as elite men and women racers battle it out for nearly US$15,000 in cash.
The US Cup will be paying out $10,000 in series overall combined pursue for the top three series riders in each division, with the winners taking home $2,500 each. In addition, the weekend prize money could top an additional $5,000 making for a nice payroll for racers.
Men's series leader Max Plaxton (Specialized Factory USA Team) is set to line up along his teammate Lea Davison, who leads the women's series by a scant two points over Luna's Georgia Gould. For Plaxton, Santa Ynez was the site of the Canadian's first breakthrough US National win a few years back when he took the elite short track race.
"I really like coming back to Santa Ynez," said the Canadian Plaxton. "I got my first US win a few years back in the short track, so the place has been good to me. Plus the payout is really nice motivation for me to come down and race!"
Another rider who broke through in Santa Ynez is second place series rider Sid Taberlay (Yeti/Kenda). The Aussie got a surprise national series win on a hot day back in 2008 that launched the Tasmanian's US career. Taberlay is looking to break his winless streak in this year's 2011 Triple Crown by taking a win this weekend.
For Specialized's Lea Davison, it has been a Cinderella story on her 2011 comeback season after a year off due to injury.
"I'm just excited to be back on the bike this year and feeling relatively good," said Davison. The US Cup puts on really great events and with a break from the World Cups, I thought I would come out and give it a go this weekend since I'm leading the series."
The weather forecasted for the weekend looks to be a comfy 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) for the high, bringing racers great racing weather. There is even a slight chance of precipitation that will only benefit the course's condition.
The first event for the weekend is the men and women's short track on Saturday at 3:30 pm, followed by the cross country and Super D events on Sunday.
This round also marks the sixth round of the Kenda Cup West series for amateur riders, with all cross country racing taking place on Sunday June 5.
For more info, visit www.uscup.net.