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Wells dominates short track for third win in three weeks

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Todd Wells (Specialized) celebrates his win in the elite men's short track at Sea Otter.

Todd Wells (Specialized) celebrates his win in the elite men's short track at Sea Otter.
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine/trailwatch.net)
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Roel Paulissen (Cannondale) riding through some S-Turns

Roel Paulissen (Cannondale) riding through some S-Turns
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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US short track champion Adam Craig (Giant) was sidelined due to an injury

US short track champion Adam Craig (Giant) was sidelined due to an injury
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Lea Davison (Maxxis) joins announcers Larry Longo and Richard Fries to call the race

Lea Davison (Maxxis) joins announcers Larry Longo and Richard Fries to call the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Carl Decker (Giant) riding to another top ten finish

Carl Decker (Giant) riding to another top ten finish
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Gary Fisher/Subaru newcomer Russell Finsterwald looked great early in the race

Gary Fisher/Subaru newcomer Russell Finsterwald looked great early in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Andy Schultz (Kenda-Felt) descending

Andy Schultz (Kenda-Felt) descending
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) at the start

Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) at the start
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Under 23 World Champion Burry Stander (Specialized

Under 23 World Champion Burry Stander (Specialized
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Former USA short track champion Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale)

Former USA short track champion Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) catching his breath after winning the race

Todd Wells (Specialized) catching his breath after winning the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Ryan Trebon (Kona) riding to 11th place today

Ryan Trebon (Kona) riding to 11th place today
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski rode much of the race with team-mate Sam Schultz (Gary Fisher/Subaru)

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski rode much of the race with team-mate Sam Schultz (Gary Fisher/Subaru)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Australian short track champion Sid Taberlay rode himself onto the podium with one lap to go

Australian short track champion Sid Taberlay rode himself onto the podium with one lap to go
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Aaron Elwell (Cannondale) on the steep climb

Aaron Elwell (Cannondale) on the steep climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Christoph Sauser (Specialized) riding to an impressive 4th place finish

Christoph Sauser (Specialized) riding to an impressive 4th place finish
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Burry Stander (Specialized) climbing out of the saddle

Burry Stander (Specialized) climbing out of the saddle
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) off the front of the race

Todd Wells (Specialized) off the front of the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) gets another hole shot

Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) gets another hole shot
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) makes it two in a row at Sea Otter

Todd Wells (Specialized) makes it two in a row at Sea Otter
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)

Todd Wells (Specialized) dominated the men's short track from start to finish on Saturday at the Sea Otter Classic. Wells went to the front from the start, immediately pushing the pace and stringing out the international-caliber field.

"If I wait, I get complacent and don't want to suffer any more. I have to go from the start," said Wells. "I think that's part of why I often do better at World Cup races."

For a time, Wells was joined by his Specialized teammate Burry Stander, who ultimately finished second. Behind the two leaders, Geoff Kabush (Maxxis / Rocky Mountain), in third, spent most of the race chasing on his own in no man's land. Christoph Sauser gave Specialized its third spot in the top five with a fourth place.

Although Wells and Stander, who was riding a 29er for his first race, were together for a time, Wells soon distanced Stander and held the gap until the finish.

"Burry came across to me quickly," said Wells, "But there was a big mud bog, and the gaps today were pretty much created by who could ride through that mud bog the best. Burry caught me and then crashed in the mud bog, which was lucky for me because he was riding strong."

It was Wells' third victory in three weeks. Last weekend, he won the Pan American cross country title, and two weeks ago, he finished first in the US Pro XCT cross country round in Fontana. With three riders in the top five, Specialized clearly had the strongest team, but Wells said they had no particular plan from the start.

"There are so many good riders on my team that everyone wants to win and no one wants to sacrifice himself," said Wells. "We all know if we go out there and go hard, we should be up there."

"The mud pit really deteriorated during our race," said Kabush. "It changed every lap. I crossed it up there on the second lap. It would have been tight, but that really separated everyone. It was best to have a clear line and just gun it through." Wells rode strongly to hold onto third place.

Sauser and then Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air / Specialized) rounded out the top five. Subaru / Gary Fisher teammates Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Sam Schultz spent most of the race riding near each other and finished sixth and seventh respectively.

"I was trying to follow JHK's line through the mud," said Schultz. "He'd ride it every time. I was just using him, I wasn't really helping him at all."

"It was like you would either die or make up a ton of ground in the mud pit," said JHK. "It was sketchy because the faster you hit it, the easier it was, but if you hit it fast and messed up, you went down hard. I was just surviving the hill every lap."

Full results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Todd Wells (USA)
2Burry Stander (RSA)
3Geoff Kabush (Can)
4Christopher Sauser (Swi)
5Sid Taberlay (Aus)
6Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA)
7Sam Schultz (USA)
8Manuel Fumic (Ger)
9Carl Decker (USA)
10Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita)
11Ryan Trebon (USA)
12Max Plaxton (Can)
13Ken Onodera (Jpn)
14Roel Paulissen (Bel)
15Jeremiah Bishop (USA)

 

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