Plaxton attacks his way to to short track win

Max Plaxton (Specialized) proved himself the strongest man in the elite men's short track race at the Sea Otter Classic on Friday afternoon. Plaxton was part of a three-man lead group, including his teammate Todd Wells and his former teammate Sid Taberlay (Kenda/H20 Overdrive). With a few laps to go, the Canadian launched an attack and escaped on his own. He held on for the victory while Taberlay fought a charge from Wells for second place.

Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant) steadily worked his way up, picking off other racers one by one on a course that was difficult for passing. Craig made steady forward progress to finish in fourth place ahead of Subaru-Trek racers Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Sam Schultz.

Brian Lopes made an early race appearance among the front few, before eventually dropping back. "Lopes insided everybody and caused quite a scrum," said Craig. "He had a sweet line - I started using his line mid-race to pass people."

In the first three laps, Plaxton, Taberlay, and Wells rode themselves off the front. They were initially chased by Barry Wicks (Kona), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek) and Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale).

"I knew the start was key and wanted to be in the top three through the first three laps," said Plaxton. "Somehow we just got a gap - the three of us."

"It was a hard course, with tactics. There wasn't a lot of drafting," said Plaxton. "I didn't think Sid was riding as strong as Todd and me, so I figured one of us would take the win."

Plaxton was right. "I didn't have the power," said Taberlay.

"It was a tough race like always. It was a cool short track though because it's really hard and the fastest guy wins," said Wells. " There's not much drafting here, and it's a selective course. Where there's an uphill, it's off camber, bumpy and loose, so there's not a lot of time to sit on and recover. It's a full out race the whole time."

Wells and Plaxton took turn applying the pressure on Taberlay. "I felt good. It was nice having Plaxton with me and Sid. I attacked a few times and didn't go anywhere," said Wells. "When Plaxton attacked, he went at the top of the course where it was pretty bumpy and he was soaking up the bumps."

Plaxton raced a dual suspension Specialized while Wells was on the team's hardtail. "I came out here yesterday and did a lap each on my hardtail and full suspension. I timed them and the full suspension was faster," said Plaxton. "Little things like that make a difference."

Behind Plaxton, Wells and Taberlay raced - at times struggling to pass lapped riders on a short course with few good passing options.

"Sid chased Max, and I tried to jump across, but I couldn't go, so I figured I'd sit on Sid and try to get him at the end, but it didn't work out," said Wells. "He got me."

Taberlay won the tactical battle for second. "I led Todd for the last three or four laps, and he attacked me once in there, but I managed to stay with him. It was two against one, so I had to chase."

"I knew I didn't have as much power, so on the last lap, I made sure that at key sections, where Todd could have passed, I lifted the pace, so he couldn't get past," said Taberlay. "Once I had him going into the final descent, I knew I had him - it was too fast to pass there."

Wicks and Bishop faded backward through the field while Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek) and JHK ended up trying to bridge to the leaders, but they didn't pull it off. The two rode the later part of the race together.

Craig seemed to get a slow start and then steadily started catching the riders in front of him. "I was second row at the start and I probably should have elbowed may way up to the first row, but what are you going to do?" said Craig.

"I had to settle in and ride my race. I had to wait for things to spread out, and then I started picking off people," said Craig. You had to ride twice as hard to pass anyone. It's so bumpy outside of the race line."

"Once I caught and passed Jeremy and Sam, I knew I'd still try to get Plaxton and those guys, but I didn't think I'd catch them," said Craig. "I don't need to burn that many extra matches. I figured I'd stay in foruth and save something for tomorrow."

The elite men will contest the Sea Otter cross country on Saturday afternoon.

For all of our Sea Otter coverage, please click here.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Max Plaxton (Can) Specialized Factory Racing
2Sid Taberlay (Aus) Kenda / H2O Overdrive
3Todd Wells (USA) Specialized Factory Racing
4Adam Craig (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team
5Jeremy Horgan-Kobel (USA) Subaru-Trek
6Sam Schultz (USA) Subaru-Trek
7Stephen Ettinger (USA) BMC Mountainbike Development Team
8Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Cannondale Factory Racing
9Kerry Werner (USA) BMC Mountainbike Development Team
10Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Factory
11Adam Morka (Can) Trek Canada
12Barry Wicks (USA)
-1lapRyan Woodall (USA) Brick City Bicycles / Mtfmx.Com
-1lapThomas Turner (USA) Jamis Factory Team
-1lapLachlan Norris (Aus)
-1lapAlex Grant (USA) Cannondale
-1lapRotem Ishay (Isr) Team Jamis
-1lapJustin Lindine (USA) Bikereg.Com / Joe's Garage / Scott
-1lapTroy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar
-1lapBenjamin Sonntag (Ger) Team Jamis
PulledJack Hinkens (USA) BMC Mountainbike Development Team
PulledPeter Glassford (USA) Trek Canada
PulledRobert Marion (USA) American Classic/Kenda/Tomac
PulledJoshua Carlson (Aus) Rockstar Racing/ Giant Bicycles
PulledBrian Lopes (USA)
PulledMitch Hoke (USA) Tokyo Joes
PulledRussell Finsterwald (USA) Subaru-Trek
PulledBrady Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar
PulledJason Sager (USA) Team Jamis
PulledKalan Beisel (USA) Yeti-Sram
PulledKevin Smallman (USA) Incycle/Cannondale
PulledAdam Snyder (USA) Team Jamis
PulledBradford Perley (USA) Champion System/Cannondale
PulledJason Moeschler (USA) WTB/Cannondale/Shimano
PulledBryson Perry (USA)
PulledJon Stierwalt (USA)
PulledKevin Bradford-Paris (USA) Emdesports/ Specialized
PulledNathan Guerra (USA) Wheel & Sprocket/Vision
PulledColin Cares (USA) Kenda/Felt
PulledKeisuke Goda (USA) Team Specialized
PulledMichael Hosey (USA)
PulledCody Kaiser (USA) Cal Giant/Specialized MTB
PulledGarrett Gibson (USA)
PulledChristopher Michael (USA) American Classic/Kenda/Tomac
PulledSeamus Powell (USA) Giant-Mid Atlantic Pro MTB Team
PulledTristan Uhl (USA)
PulledHansueli Stauffer (Swi) IXS-Swiss Wheeler Team
PulledScott Tietzel (USA) Specialzied Bicycles
PulledJim Thijs (USA) Team Barracuda
PulledChristopher Hurst (USA) Stan's Notubes/Axa/Crca
PulledJim Hewett (USA) Summit Bicycles
PulledNicholas Weighall (USA) Cal Giant/Specialized MTB
PulledBlake Harlan (USA) Team Jamis
PulledJason Young (USA) Feedback Sports Racing
PulledWill Curtis (USA)
PulledNate Byrom (USA) Northstar-At-Tahoe/Giant
PulledAaron Elwell (USA) Highgear/Trek
PulledPeter Odonnell (USA) GT Bicycles
PulledKris Sneddon (USA) Kona
PulledSkyler Trujillo (USA) Niner/Stans/Ergon
PulledMitchell Bailey (Can) Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team
PulledMatthew Paziuk (Can) Trek Store Toronto
PulledKen Onodera (Jpn) Team Specialized
PulledNick Truitt (USA)
PulledRiley Predum (USA) Whole Athlete Specialized
PulledAndy Schultz (USA) Kenda-Felt
PulledMitchell Peterson (USA)
PulledBrent Steinberg (USA) Livetrainrace.Com
PulledCarl Decker (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team
PulledDean Poshard (USA) Rock Lobster

Note: Organizer results are missing two places, so results are not technically "full".

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.

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