2013 Crystal Cross: Hoffner, Liegl Take Top Honors


On a day where riders either had the legs or didn’t, Scott Hoffner made his Cross the Bay debut in style. 

On the heels of Peak2Peak, the riders who hung around were in for a gutsy day on a brand new course. The short circuit looked simple at first glance, but it turned out to be one of the most difficult and decisive courses in Cross the Bay history. The lap, at only .8 miles long, forced riders to sprint out of innumerable corners, take on the sand pit twice, and take on a sweeping but short climb before two flights of stairs. Gone were the familiar straightaways of Breezeway and Northmen Cross, though those courses were more than hard enough in their own ways.

With poor weather in the forecast all week long, Sunday turned out just as beautiful as Saturday. The temperatures were closer to forty-five that fifty, but the cold breeze gave the day a bit of that cyclocross chill that’s been long anticipated.

The gigantic Men’s B race paired with the Women’s A to start off the afternoon of racing. With the former winners all moved up and no Algoma Bicycle Co. riders on hand, it was a wide open race for the men, with John Studer emerging almost immediately as the favorite. Cody and Wes Sovis tried to control things through the first half-lap, but Studer, NCCS’ Ross Gibbs and Wes’ Hagerty teammate Jake Ellis weren’t sitting back and watching. An elite group tore away, but within two laps, had begun to gap up. Studer was pulling away from Gibbs, but rather than cede the vicory, Gibbs battled until the tank was nearly empty. Ellis filled the void, but Studer was already cruising. Wes Sovis was looking strong, and only a mechanical knocked him out of the pursuit. A smart fix, with the wheel almost coming out of the drops, put Wes back but with time to chase. He came from over seven spots back to slide into sixth on the day. Ahead, Cody Sovis looked to be comfortable and heading to fourth place until a dropped chain jammed in the rear derailleur. A slow, slow, slow fix by the mechanically disinclined Sovis opened the door wide open for a surging Yarro Ireland. Sovis folded late, with Ireland pulling out and holding a six second gap late.

The Women’s race was equally divided, with the group exploding early before each woman essentially rode their own time trial to the line. Bobbie Liegl put nearly 35 seconds into Melissa Socia and Tina Dominic and rode steady the rest of the afternoon. Einstein Racing’s Stacy Smith had negative sensations and decided to pull the plug with Iceman just around the corner. Liegl was impeccable down the stretch, and with no mistakes or bobbles, pulled her second win of the series. Melissa Socia proved she’s ready for the big time with a solid and consistent second place finish, plus some great bike handling to stay out of trouble. Dominic held on for a great third place finish.

The C race featured even more racers that had already put in maximum effort at Peak2Peak. Among them, podium contender Keith Conway of Einstein Racing found he simply had nothing, and rode the rest of the race trying to spin the junk out. His teammate, Austin Johnson, was flying from the gate and carried the cause for the squad. With a big lead early, the efforts of the day before did tell as he was overtaken by Mark Strikuita almost mid-race. While Strikuita seemed to get stronger, Johnson did well to limit the damage and find a pace that suited him, powering home for second place as Strikuita cruised in for the win. Behind, the very bearded Brandon Worden took third place ahead of the consistent Sky Foster, who seems to take a top five every event. Hagerty Cycling’s Bryan Carps made his 2013 cyclocross debut and slotted home fifth place in a great field.

Einstein Racing’s Chelsea Strate was only able to race the Women’s B (officially) due to car trouble, but she made the most of it. Pam Bufe, bedecked in equally striking jorts as Strate, battled hard early before conceding to Strate, who rode steady the whole race. Her Einstein teammate and the lone Junior, Claire Reeves, did the same. It appears Reeves has frightened the Junior field, which was nearly a dozen strong last week at Northmen Cross.

Scott Hoffner had a great race Saturday and kept the momentum going a day later, taking a big win in the Men’s A. Only second place finisher Chad Wells was able to stay on the lead lap, as much of the field struggled to keep out of Hoffner’s way. Jason Lowetz took an impressive third on a day where much of the field spent their races with their heads down, lonely and unwilling. Trever Kingsbury was fourth, ahead of the burrito-and-beer fueled Eric Pollard. The first rider amongst the double-racers was Jake Eliis, matching his second place in the B race with a sixth in As, ahead of a hard-battling Yarro Ireland. The Sovis Brothers raced again and a leisurely yet somehow torturous pace to take spots eight and ninth, with Wes rolling through unchallenged. Dennis Bean-Larson was tenth on the day, picking up some valuable points, as well.

Results are up at the links below:

Race 1 (Men’s B, Women’s A)

Race 2 (Men’s C, Women’s B, Juniors)

Race 3 (Men’s A plus Chelsea just for funsies)

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