After a strong performance in Catamarca, Argentina last weekend and a win at Bonelli Park #1 several weeks ago, Stephen Ettinger was hopeful that he would again stand on the podium at Bonelli Park #2. However, it was not meant to be this weekend as Ettinger finished a disappointing seventh.
“I would have liked to have been on the podium, but it just wasn’t in the cards at the end of an almost two-hour race,” said Ettinger.
Carrying the weight of HC status, many coveted UCI points were on the line, which was a big draw for riders around the world. On a sloppy, muddy course, Danish rider Simon Andreassen (Specialized Factory Racing) would take the top honors followed by Canadians, Raphael Gagne (Cannondale 360fly P/B Sugoi) and Geoff Kabush (Scott 3Rox Racing) in second and third, respectively. Ettinger was the top American on the day.
An unprecedented amount of rain fell in San Dimas, California setting-up a much different kind of course than what the racers faced several weeks ago. At Bonelli Park #1 a slight rain had fallen prior to the race creating a fast and tacky course – perfect conditions for racing. For round number two a steady rain greeted the racers at the start and didn’t stop until four laps in wreaking havoc on the track and bikes.
“The first four laps were wet, but when the rain stopped, the mud got gummy and stuck to everything,” Ettinger said. “By then all the good lines were in the grass which meant we peeled the grass up onto the bikes.”
Mechanicals plagued many of the riders, but Ettinger was one of the luckier ones.
“I did drop my chain in the last lap which set me back from sixth to seventh, but I feel like I got away pretty easy,” said Ettinger. “Some people had pretty bad mechanicals out there.”
Although disappointed, Ettinger says he made all the right choices in his equipment but admits he was not at the top of his game going into this weekend’s race.
“The bike was perfect,” Ettinger said. “I chose the right tires, Slant Six Pro 2.2, and the Shimano Di2 treated me really well.”
“I had a slow start – I could tell after a hard race last weekend and with all the travel from Argentina added on top, I was not 100 percent,” Ettinger continued. “The middle part of the race was definitely the best. Unfortunately, it just took me a while to get into a rhythm and settle in.”
After spraying off the mud and shaking his disappointment, Ettinger will head back to San Diego to recover ahead of next weekend’s Sea Otter Classic, another race loaded with valuable UCI points and a strong field.
“Next weekend I think I can be at the sharp end,” said Ettinger. “It’s just about staying loose this week and recovering from a busy ten days.”