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Wilson and Wurtz continue winning streaks at Shasta Gravel Hugger

Brennan Wurtz (Scuderia Pinarello) won the Open Men’s title and Moriah Wilson (Specialized/Meteor) took the Open Women’s victory at the Shasta Gravel Hugger on March 5 in Montague, California. Both riders won their respective divisions last weekend at the Huffmaster Hopper, part of the Grasshopper off-road series, while Wilson has gone three-for-three with the top prize at the Rock Cobbler as well.

The field for the third edition of the 100-mile Full Hug route was stacked with a number of competitors who are among the 60 elite athletes selected to compete in this year’s Life Time Grand Prix, including Wilson and three other women in the top six - Flavia Oliveira (Excel Sports), Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) and Amber Neben (BaseCamp Cycling). 

On the men’s side, runner-up Adam Roberge and Peter Stetina (Let’s Privateer), who finished fourth, will also compete at the Life Time series, which begins April 9 at Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California.

For a third year in a row, riders faced chilly temperatures at the start, just above the freezing mark, and later rode through snow showers on a shaded gravel sector, all in the shadow of the snowcapped Mount Shasta that reaches 14,180 feet (4,322 metres) above sea level that is part of the Cascade Mountain range in northern California. The 100-mile route had two major climbs totaling 4,700 feet of climbing, with half of the distance providing gravel broken into 10 sections, the first 60 miles were on rolling terrain.  

Stetina, who returned to Shasta Gravel Hugger as the defending champion, arrived fresh off a victory at the grueling eight-day Transcordirellas Rally in Colombia. He was in chase mode all day, and was not able close the gap to Wurtz, Roberge, and third-place finisher Jonathan Baker (Lauf Racing p/b Groove Mazda).

Making the first gravel start in her long racing career was Amber Neben, two-time time trial World Champion and three-time Olympian for the US on the road. She had a solid start but was seen riding through ditches to avoid crashes across Shasta Valley.

Wilson moved up one step from last year’s second-place finish to secure the overall in the Open Women’s division. Her time of 5:09:40 was also good for 20th overall. Serena Bishop-Gordon (Liv Racing Collective) took second and Oliveira was third. Just missing the women’s podium was Fahringer in fourth, Cassie Nelson (Fount Cycling Guild) in fifth, and Neben in sixth.

Open Women - top 10
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Moriah Wilson (Specialized/Meteor) 5:09:40
2Serena Gordon (Liv Racing Collective) 0:08:03
3Flavia Oliveira (Excel Sports) 0:10:54
4Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 0:28:15
5Cassie Nelson (Fount Cycling Guild) 0:31:57
6Amber Neben (BaseCamp Cycling) 0:33:13
7Sarah Max (Argonaut Cycles) 0:37:24
8Ayssa Mahoney 1:02:28
9Evelyn Boling (Fast Fun Nice Racing) 1:07:01
10Beth Ann Orton (Instafund Racing) 1:13:12

Open Men - top 10
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brennan Wertz (Scuderia Pinarello) 4:38:35
2Adam Roberge 0:04:24
3Jonathan Baker (Lauf Racing p/b Groove Mazda) 0:07:26
4Peter Stetina (Let's Privateer) 0:07:29
5David Richter (Fount Cycling Guild) 0:11:37
6Evan Paschke 0:14:38
7Ian Lopez de San Roman (Sportful) 0:17:43
8Stefano Barberi (Kenda/TheBlackBibs) 0:19:56
9Ian Brown (Speedvagen/Cascadia Junior) 0:21:44
10Jack Eisele (Green Line Velo) 0:26:28

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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).