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Buhl speeds to Sea Otter downhill victory

Melissa Buhl (KHS) raced to a win by four-tenths of a second in the elite women's downhill race on Sunday morning at the Sea Otter Classic. The women enjoyed another day of stellar weather on the three-mile track just outside the Laguna Seca raceway.

"My run was a little sketched in a couple of spots, but I'm stoked," said Buhl after the finish.

"I was loose at the top, and I came out of my pedal on one of the uphill climbs. I was kind of stressing about that, but I knew that where the race was going to be won down at the bottom, with the pedalling. There is so much power and fitness needed in that section."

Buhl has been busy with school, but she's been squeezing in some interval training, which helped her with the intensity required on the day's pedalling course.

"Yeah, I had a few finals earlier this week. I'm a little bit crazy and sleep deprived."

Behind Buhl, Rachel Atherton (Commencal) proved she's back to her old downhill form after a year off due to injury. Backing up her second place in yesterday's dual slalom Atherton clocked second place, one tenth of a second ahead of fellow British racer Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing).

Atherton was delighted with her run, happy to log two second places on her first weekend back racing with many of the World Cup contenders.

"I didn't make any major mistakes," said Moseley, also satisified with her run. "There were a few places I was maybe late getting onto the pedals, but I'm happy. It's a great start to the year, and it's nice to know I'm on pace with a month to go until the first World Cup."

Moseley also commented on how the course differed from lats year. "It was a lot rougher this year. It's been pretty soft, so it made it more rutted at the bottom. Otherwise, it's the same old Sea Otter. It always hurts."

Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis) finished fourth ahead of Leigh Donovan in fifth. The later, a former World Champion, is making a comeback this year. The 38-year-old has been honing her skills and was clearly having a fun time back racing.

"I had a great run," said Donovan. "I don't quite have the legs to beat these top girls, but I've gotten a lot of skills this year. I've been racing Melissa Buhl and she's been pushing me."

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Melissa Buhl (KHS)0:02:20.6
2Rachel Atherton (Commencal)0:00:00.4
3Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing)0:00:00.5
4Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis)0:00:03.5
5Leigh Donovan0:00:04.3
6Jill Kintner0:00:04.8
7Fionn Griffiths (Norco)0:00:07.6
8Joanna Petterson0:00:10.9
9Kathy Pruitt (Jamis)0:00:11.0
10Claire Buchar (Chain Reaction)0:00:11.6
11Jacqueline Harmony0:00:12.2
12Anneke Beerten0:00:12.7
13Abby Hippely (Santa Cruz)0:00:14.0
14Katie Holden0:00:17.3
15Karin Hanzi (Thunder)0:00:18.7
16Jaime Hill (Cycle Comp.)0:00:19.6
17Tara Johnson (Loeka)0:00:20.7
18Sondra Williamson
19Jennifer Wolf (Powerbar)0:00:21.8
20Gabriela Williams0:00:24.7
21Darian Harvey0:00:27.2
22Joy Martin (Vixen)0:00:28.9
23Nadia Steinbrecher0:00:35.1
DNFMargaret Gregory (Don's Bike)
DNFRachel Bauer (Geronimo)
DNFTasa Herndon (Vixen)
DNFMiranda Miller (Pinkbike)


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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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