Chloe Woodruff, Benjamin Sonntag take Carson City Off-Road titles
Get out the brooms, it was sweep time for Chloe Woodruff.
Woodruff, who won the El Yucateco Fat Tire Crit on Friday night, capped a profitable weekend by running away from Katerina Nash in the final stages and winning the 50-mile race at the third annual Carson City Off-Road Sunday.
On the men’s side, Benjamin Sonntag outraced defending champ Howard Grotts and Keegan Swenson for the victory. The three riders were separated by .01 seconds.
Woodruff and Nash were neck and neck with a couple of miles left in the race, but Woodruff was able to pull away at the end. Both riders had to overcome a crash.
Evelyn Dong, who maintained her overall series lead, was third about 4 1/2 minutes behind Woodruff and 3 1/2 minutes in back of Nash. Larissa Connors was fourth in 4:23.37 and Crystal Anthony was fifth in 4:26.29. Amy Beisel (4:28.11), Alexis Skarda (4:32.50), Kaysee Armstrong (4:33.27), Megan Chelf (4:34.29) and Hannah Finchamp (4:36.38) completed the top 10.
“It was a great weekend,” said Woodruff, who was second to Annika Langvad at Whiskey Road earlier this year. “I crashed a few miles out and Katerina caught me. I pushed back up and got around her on the Creekside Trail. where she actually crashed. I had a little more left at the end.”
“Chloe had pulled away on the rim (Tahoe Rim Trail) and had some kind of crash and I got back to her,” Nash said. “I made a silly mistake. It was just being tired and trying to go too hard on the downhill. She was a little stronger.”
Woodruff, who finished 14th in mountain biking at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, has been on a roll. She attributes it to staying injury free.
“The last two years I’ve had ups and downs,” she said. “I’ve had my most consisent and steady training.”
Beating Nash in Carson City is no small feat. Nash won the 50-miler in 2016 and was second to Rose Grant last year. Nash was disappointed by the result, and chalked up her success in Carson City to being comfortable.
The Czech-born racer lives in the Bay Area. She also attended the University of Nevada.
“I love the area,” Nash said. “I lived here a long time. It’s fun to drive to a bike race. I’ve spent lots of years training out here.”
Sonntag was second to Geoff Kabush in 2016 here in Carson City. He was sixth at Grand Junction and 16th at Whiskey Road, the first two events of the Epic Rides Series this year.
“I knew it was going to come down to a sprint,” Sonntag said. “I’ve never been known as a great sprinter. I can sprint. I’ve been working hard on it the last two seasons.”
Sonntag was so stoked at winning the race he crashed in the first corner after the start-finish line.
Sonntag admitted he got some help from teammate Russ Finsterwald (3:34.52), who finished fourth behind Swenson (3:34.36) and Grotts (3:34.36). With Finsterwald pushing Swenson and Grotts, it made things easier for Sonntag.
Ryan Standish was fifth in 3:37.10 followed by Jerry Dufour (3:38.21), Kabush (3:39.34), Sandy Floren (3:42.23), Alex Grant (3:42.24) and Richard Gorry (3:42.24). Former Reno resident Jake Yackle was 11th in 3:45.36.
“Howard had to do most of the work,” Sonntag said. “Russell was coming up on him (and Swenson), and they couldn’t afford to let Russell get by them.”
There were three 90-degree corners on the back side of the course, and Sonntag took the lead right before the second corner.
Grotts had a punctured tire that cost him valuable time.
“I hit a rock perfectly,” he said. “It happens.”
The riders, who were on a brand-new course, were greeted by cooler temperatures and even some hail once they got into the higher elevations.
“I carried a vest with the race started and I had arm warmers,” Woodruff said. “We lucked out. The trails got a fair amount of rain, and they were in good shape. It was an absolutely good day out there.”
“Racing the Flume Trail, it doesn’t get any better than that, “ added Nash. “It was cool.”