Skip to main content

Wells rides to his first Sea Otter cross country victory

Image 1 of 30

Todd Wells (Specialized) takes his first ever Sea Otter cross country victory

Todd Wells (Specialized) takes his first ever Sea Otter cross country victory
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 2 of 30

Max Plaxton (Specialized) paid back teammate Todd Wells today with some great team tactics late in the race

Max Plaxton (Specialized) paid back teammate Todd Wells today with some great team tactics late in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 3 of 30

Todd Wells (Specialized) takes the leaders off the pavement

Todd Wells (Specialized) takes the leaders off the pavement
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 4 of 30

There was a bottleneck where the riders left the pavement

There was a bottleneck where the riders left the pavement
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 5 of 30

Former World Champion Ned Overend (Specialized) took on many man less than half his age

Former World Champion Ned Overend (Specialized) took on many man less than half his age
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 6 of 30

The back of the course had spectacular views

The back of the course had spectacular views
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 7 of 30

Todd Wells (Specialized) attacks Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale)

Todd Wells (Specialized) attacks Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 8 of 30

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) descends through the trees

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) descends through the trees
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 9 of 30

Adam Craig (Team Giant) moved up dramatically as has been his custom lately

Adam Craig (Team Giant) moved up dramatically as has been his custom lately
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 10 of 30

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Trek-Subaru) leadis his teammate Sam Schultz

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Trek-Subaru) leadis his teammate Sam Schultz
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 11 of 30

Stephen Ettinger (BMC) has been one of the top riders all season

Stephen Ettinger (BMC) has been one of the top riders all season
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 12 of 30

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) climbs on lap six

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) climbs on lap six
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 13 of 30

Todd Wells (Specialized) attempts to work over Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) after Max Plaxton joined them

Todd Wells (Specialized) attempts to work over Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) after Max Plaxton joined them
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 14 of 30

Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) hammers through the start/finish with one lap to go

Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) hammers through the start/finish with one lap to go
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 15 of 30

Todd Wells (Specialized) looked safe for the win with one lap to go

Todd Wells (Specialized) looked safe for the win with one lap to go
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 16 of 30

The early lead group was massive along the Laguna Seca track

The early lead group was massive along the Laguna Seca track
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 17 of 30

Chaos on the first lap

Chaos on the first lap
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 18 of 30

American cross country National Champion Todd Wells (Specialized)

American cross country National Champion Todd Wells (Specialized)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 19 of 30

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek)

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 20 of 30

Adam Morka (Trek Toronto) is wished good luck by Emily Batty who had just won the women's race

Adam Morka (Trek Toronto) is wished good luck by Emily Batty who had just won the women's race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 21 of 30

The elite men's cross country field was massive

The elite men's cross country field was massive
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 22 of 30

Barry Wicks (Kona) got off to a great start

Barry Wicks (Kona) got off to a great start
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 23 of 30

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) rides in fifth position

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) rides in fifth position
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 24 of 30

Brady Kappius (Cliff Bar) climbs under the shade trees

Brady Kappius (Cliff Bar) climbs under the shade trees
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 25 of 30

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) sets a blistering pace

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) sets a blistering pace
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 26 of 30

Adam Morka (Trek Canada) has one of his best Sea Otters ever

Adam Morka (Trek Canada) has one of his best Sea Otters ever
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 27 of 30

Sid Taberlay (H2O Overdrive) looks strong early but had to drop the pace a bit

Sid Taberlay (H2O Overdrive) looks strong early but had to drop the pace a bit
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 28 of 30

Eric Batty (Trek Canada) smokes the uphill

Eric Batty (Trek Canada) smokes the uphill
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 29 of 30

Max Plaxton (Specialized) gets the hole shot

Max Plaxton (Specialized) gets the hole shot
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
Image 30 of 30

Ryan Trebon (Felt) in his first cross country event of the year

Ryan Trebon (Felt) in his first cross country event of the year
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)

Todd Wells (Specialized) rode to his first ever Sea Otter cross country win on Saturday afternoon at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Wells' teammate Max Plaxton finished in second place ahead of Jeremiah Bishop in third. Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant) rode a long, lonely race to finish fourth while Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek) took the sprint for the final podium spot, fifth.

"It was a hard, tactical race. It's my first win this year, and I've never won the Sea Otter cross country, although I've been coming here for about 15 years," said Wells. "I'm glad to finally get a win."

From the start, Wells went to the front and pushed the pace. Bishop and Sid Taberlay (H2O Overdrive) went with him to form a three-man lead group by lap two of eight, but Bishop was the only one who could handle the pace and Taberlay started to fade backward through the long line of fast men.

"It was a benefit to be with someone on the track because there was quite a bit of drafting with the wind," said Wells. "But if you get too many people in a group, nobody wants to work and it's ends up being too much of a burden."

Racing on an open, windy course meant it was a disadvantage for riders to be on their own. Riders tended to group up, particularly on the paved and dirt road sections of the course before stringing out on the singletrack, grassy hillside climb.

Wells and Bishop spent a majority of the race working together at the front. Based on body language, Wells looked stronger, but both riders traded turns fairly for awhile.

The chase group, at about 45 seconds around the halfway point of the race, included riders like Craig, Plaxton, Schultz, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek), Adam Morka (Trek Canada), Barry Wicks (Kona), Stephen Ettinger (BMC), Troy Wells (Clif), Taberlay and Ryan Trebon at various times. From that group, Craig and Plaxton emerged the strongest and pulled away from the rest.

Plaxton seemed to turn on the boosters and bridged up to Wells and Bishop. It was a noteworthy solo effort on a windy, unforgiving day.

"That was an interesting race - like no other race in the season. I had a problem early on and got gapped, but I wasn't going to pull the rest of the guys up, so I just sat back and let everyone else try to reel them in," said Plaxton. "But no one else was strong enough to bring them back."

"Sitting in a pack is not my kind of racing," said Plaxton, who is now leading the US Pro XCT series. "It was tough to catch up to the leaders, but my plan worked. I thought if I got up there the worst that could happen was I would get third and it's not any fun sitting in a group and waiting until the end to see what will happen."

Once Wells got word that help was on the way from Plaxton, he reduced his work in the break and let Bishop shoulder more of it. By two laps to go, he was up with the leaders.

"With Plaxton coming across, it played to my benefit," said Wells. "Bishop had to do most of the work and when Plaxton joined us, we started attacking him. That was it."

"As soon as Max was within 25 seconds, Wells totally shut it off," said Bishop. "He would take some courtesy pulls, but he knew that once Max got there, he'd have help. He sat on my wheel for a lap and then started attacking me."

Behind the lead trio, Craig rode alone for much of the race. He hadn't planned it that way, but it seemed to be his destiny for the day, and the only question was whether the group of Ettinger, Schultz and Horgan-Kobelski might catch him for that fourth place spot on the podium.

"Plaxton shed me pretty quickly because he was strong as hell on the climbs," said Craig. "He was stretching me over the top and one lap he waited and one lap, he didn't."

"Finding myself alone, I was partially annoyed that I was having to work harder than I'd planned today and partially happy because I could work that hard and felt decent. I don't quite have the mid-summer snap, but at least I won't feel totally stupid at the World Cup next weekend."

Once Wells and Plaxton got together, they showed no mercy on the outnumbered Bishop and took turns pushing the pace to keep the pressure on Bishop.

"I was suprised Jeremiah would chase me so much because he and Plaxton were in a battle for the number one spot in the US Pro XCT," said Wells. "It didn't make sense to me, but it worked out for us since we went one-two."

The tactic worked because Bishop was so at his limit at one point while chasing Wells and leading Plaxton that he crashed hard - hard enough that he took some time on the ground to evaluate his condition before continuing.

"I was laying it all out there. Sometimes when you're anaerobic, you're not totally on point. I kind of knew I was on the wrong line when I was taking it, but then it was too late," said Bishop. "There were a bunch of motor ruts. I went a little low and I went down real quick. I think I broke my finger."

"I got up and my hanger was bent, and then I figured I was strong enough to ride a whole lap with Todd on my wheel so I could go ride a whole lap with nobody on my wheel and hold off Adam."

During the time Bishop was pulling himself back together, Wells secured his gap and Plaxton overtook Bishop. Wells would ride solo to the finish, and Plaxton would come in on his own 53 seconds back for second place.

"I'm happy and it's great to see Todd win - I look up to him," said Plaxton. "We got a win yesterday and a win today."

Bishop managed to pull himself together enough to get back on his bike and ride the rest of the race on his own to finish third at 1:49. After the race, he was bleeding from his crash and looking for ice for his finger.

"To salvage a hard crash with a lap and a half to go and get third at Sea Otter is good," said Bishop, who now has a first, second and third in the first three US Pro XCTs.

The lonesome Craig was fourth at 2:07 while Schultz outsprinted Horgan-Kobelski and Ettinger for the finish.

The two Subaru-Trek riders were worried about being upstaged by the young Ettinger, in his best cross country race to date, but a bobble near the end of the trail before the final racetrack section cost Ettinger a chance to go for his first ever cross country national podium.

"I had the worst first two laps ever. I bobbled on a sand section and had to run and I got way back," said Horgan-Kobelski. "I had to pay for missing that first split. I wanted to make sure Sam and I tactically made it so we'd get to the front of that group first. We traded off attacking to make sure one of us was always up there."

"It was so road race-esque with so much drafting," said Schultz. "It was interesting - different than normal. It was fun to try to mix it up. I didn't feel that good until the last lap. I wanted to make sure Jeremy and I didn't look too dumb - getting beat by the up and comer Stephen. But he worked himself over on the last move. He bobbled that last section before the racetrack and made it easy on Jeremy and me."

Bobbling or not, Ettinger logged his best ever cross country finish at a national-level race. "I didn't really know what to do," said Ettinger. "We were racing for fifth place and I've never been in that position before." His previous best was 10th at the Bonelli Park US Pro XCT two weeks ago.

"I tried to play it as smart as I could. We worked together well until the last lap. I sat up on the last lap and let them do the work since there were two of them. They kept trying to break it up at the end, and I put in a couple of digs, but it never broke up. I'm not sure I had the legs to attack those guys anyway."

Race notes

Plaxton was on a hardtail 29er. "I don't think I've ridden a hardtail in years. It was a bit of a shock to my back."

Riders weren't too excited about the open course with lots of paved and dirt road. "I wish it was more of a mountain bike race. This was more pavement than a 'cross race," said Bishop. "Hopefully next year, we'll get back some of the trail on the front side."

"It was a silly race," said Horgan-Kobelski. "It was like mountain bike road racing. It's not mountain biking."

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Todd Wells (USA) Specialized Factory Racing1:40:00
2Max Plaxton (Can) Specialized Factory Racing0:00:53
3Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Cannondale Factory Racing0:01:49
4Adam Craig (USA) Gian Factory Off-Road Team0:02:07
5Sam Schultz (USA) Subaru - Trek0:02:54
6Jeremy Horgan-Kobel (USA) Subaru - Trek0:02:55
7Stephen Ettinger (USA) BMC Mountainbike Development0:03:04
8Lachlan Norris (Aus) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:04:06
9Adam Morka (Can) Trek Canada0:04:08
10Kerry Werner (USA) BMC Mountainbike Development
11Barry Wicks (USA) Kona0:04:19
12Ryan Trebon (USA) L&T Sports/Felt Bicycle0:04:27
13Thomas Turner (USA) Jamis Factory Team0:04:38
14Sid Taberlay (Aus) Kenda / H2O Overdrive0:04:53
15Benjamin Sonntag (Ger) Team Jamis0:04:57
16Jason Sager (USA) Team Jamis0:05:22
17Rotem Ishay (Isr) Team Jamis0:05:28
18Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Factory0:05:30
19Peter Glassford (Can) Trek Canada0:05:46
20Ryan Woodall (USA) Brick City Bicycles0:07:07
21Jack Hinkens (USA) BMC Mountainbike Development0:07:17
22Bryson Perry (USA) Life Time Fitness
23Colin Cares (USA) Kenda/Felt
24Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar0:07:25
25Justin Lindine (USA) Bikereg.Com0:07:47
26Lukas Buchli (Swi) Bixs - Ixs Pro Team0:08:16
27Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Jelly Belly pb Kenda
28Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona0:08:21
29Brady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar0:08:53
30Vincent Lombardi (USA) Steven K Pro Team0:08:57
31David Tinker Juarez (USA)0:09:03
32Carl Decker (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Racing0:09:07
33Kalan Beisel (USA) Yeti-SRAM0:09:09
34Joshua Carlson (Aus) Rockstar Racing/Giant
35Eric Batty (Can) Trek Canada Mountain
36Mitchell Hoke (USA) Tokyo Joe's0:09:39
37Tj Woodruff (USA) Trek - Boulder0:10:09
38Ned Overend (USA)0:10:37
39Dana Weber (USA) Trek - Jax Bicycles0:10:43
40Zachary Valdez (USA) Whole Athlete - Specialized0:10:53
41Tristan Uhl (USA)0:11:01
42Jason Siegle (USA) SDG/Felt0:11:08
43Nathan Guerra (USA) Wheel & Sprocket0:11:15
44Adam Snyder (USA) Team Jamis0:11:29
45Alexander Sanchez (CRc) Team Specialized0:11:36
46Bradford Perley (USA) Champion System0:11:49
47Ben Bostrom (USA) Team Sho-Air/Specialized
48Alex Grant (USA) Cannondale0:12:10
49Seamus Powell (USA) Giant- Mid Atlantic
50Brad Bingham (USA) Moots Cycles0:12:14
51Will Curtis (USA) Whole Athlete-Specialized0:12:15
52Ken Onodera (Jpn) Team Specialized0:12:18
53Jon Stierwalt (USA) Ride Giant / Ride North0:12:21
54Russell Finsterwald (USA) Subaru - Trek0:12:28
55John Nobil (USA) Bear Valley Bikes0:13:15
56Nicholas Weighall (USA) Cal Giant/Specialized0:13:42
57Yuki Ikeda (Jpn) Topeak Ergon Racing0:13:52
58Jim Hewett (USA) Summit Bicycles0:15:02
59Cody Kaiser (USA) Cal Giant/Specialized0:16:19
60Andy Schultz (USA) Kenda-Felt0:16:27
61Mitchell Peterson (USA) Life Time Fitness0:18:36
-2 lapsMichael Mccalla (USA) Magura Direct
-2 lapsMitchell Bailey (Can) Trek Canada Mountain
-2 lapsAaron Elwell (USA) Highgear/Trek
-2 lapsGarrett Gibson (USA)
-2 lapsSean Babcock (USA) Sellwood Cycle Repair
-2 lapsJim Thijs (Bel) Team Barracuda
-2 lapsKevin Smallman (USA) Kevin Smallman
-2 lapsMichael Hosey (USA)
-2 lapsSkyler Trujillo (USA) Niner/Stans/Ergon
-2 lapsChristopher Hurst (USA) Stan's Notubes/Axa
-2 lapsNate Whitman (USA)
-2 lapsSean Donovan (USA) Cytomax/KHS
-2 lapsCharles Jenkins (USA) Cytomax/KHS
-2 lapsNick Truitt (USA)
-2 lapsZachary Keller (USA) Focus/BMC U23
-3 lapsAnthony Sinyard (USA) Specialized
-3 lapsChristopher Michael (USA) American Classic/Kenda
-3 lapsJason Holbrook (USA) Yeti/Jett Pro XC
-3 lapsHal Helbock (USA)
-3 lapsHansueli Stauffer (Swi) IXS-Swiss Wheeler Team
-3 lapsJason Young (USA) Feedback Sports Racing
-3 lapsScott Tietzel (USA) Specialzied Bicycles
-3 lapsKevin Bradford-Paris (USA) Emdesports/ Specialized
-3 lapsPeter Odonnell (USA) GT Bicycles
-3 lapsBrent Steinberg (USA) Livetrainrace.com
-3 lapsAlex Boone (USA) Trek 29Er Crew
-3 lapsJason Moeschler (USA) WTB/Cannondale
-3 lapsMatthew Paziuk (Can) Trek Store Toronto
-3 lapsRobert Marion (USA) American Classic
-3 lapsLewis Gaffney (USA) Team F.I.Taos
-3 lapsBlake Harlan (USA) Team Jamis
-3 lapsRichard Schoenfelde (USA) Gas/Intrisik Architect
-4 lapsGregory Carpenter (USA) Team Edge - Oakley
-4 lapsPhilipp Gerber (Swi) Swiss Bixs
-4 lapsTsering Alleyne (USA)
-4 lapsKendal Johnson (USA) Sagebrush Cycles
-4 lapsRob Anderson (Can)
-4 lapsWill Patterson (USA) Whole Athlete/Specialized
-4 lapsRiley Predum (USA) Whole Athlete Specialized
-5 lapsDean Poshard (USA) Rock Lobster
-5 lapsDaniel Munoz (USA) Cyclery USA
-5 lapsCampbell Levy (USA) Yeti Cycles/Jett
-6 lapsBrian Trader (USA) Sun 'N' Spokes/Giant
DNFNitish Nag (USA) Team IMBA
DNFMiguel Valadez (Mex)
DNFGraham Aldredge (USA) CTS/Boulder Cyclesport
DNFChris Sheppard (Can) Rocky Mountain Bicycle
DNFBrian Astell (USA) Lost Coast Brewery
DNFKeisuke Goda (Jpn) Team Specialized
DNFNate Byrom (USA) Northstar-At-Tahoe
DNFKevin Fish (USA) Bicycle Sport Shop

 

Latest on Cyclingnews