Sunday, March 15, 2009

Elken, Secrist Split Banana Belt Wins

Sheets of rain and howling winds greeted riders for the second installment of the 2009 Banana Belt Series after last weekend’s snow-induced cancellation. Evan Elken (Land Rover/Orbea) won the soggy Men's Pro/1/2 event while Veloforma's Robin Secrist of Kirkland, Wash., won the Women's Pro/1/2/3 race in a field that included cyclocross World Cup star and pro mountain biker Sue Butler (Monavie/Cannondale).


While his Land Rover/Orbea teammates animated the front of the race, eventual men’s winner Evan Elken (pictured) bided his time in the bunch and waited for the right time to strike. He found it as the group tackled the hills and rollers approaching the start/finish line.

“We were going up that little steep hill at the 2K marker,” Elken said of his winning move with just more than two laps remaining. “I kind of sat back and watched as there was a group split off and then maybe another and a strung-out pack. I hopped across to the first group on the downhill, and then on the next little riser I went across to the front group and went straight by ‘em.”

Only Paul Bourcier (Hutch’s) was able to match Elken’s acceleration and grab his wheel. Elken powered the two-man break, which built a lead that hovered just over two minutes until the last lap, when he opened a small gap on Bourcier with about 2k to go. The Land Rover/Orbea rider finished about 10 second ahead of Bourcier. Two chasers finished about 2:15 later, and the rest rolled in about 3:48 down, with Wes Stephens (Paul's Bicycles) leading the bunch across the line.

Elken said he's looking forward to getting the full Land Rover/Orbea squad together for a two-week stint in California, where the team will tackle San Dimas and Redlands Bicycle Classic March 26-29.

“It’s the first big trip of the year,” he said. “We’ve got like nine riders but some are in Tucson and various places. We’re all going to be together down there for two weeks, and then we’re gonna come up here. It’ll be nice to have more than four guys next time we do one of these races.”


Secrist (pictured) escaped from the women’s field near the end of the first lap and steadily built an advantage of more than three minutes over a six-rider chase group that included Butler, Jen Akeroyd (Team Group Health), Libby Evans (Sorella Forte), Beth Burns (Veloce/Felt), Lisa Turnbull (Therapeutic Associates Inc.) and one of Secrist’s Veloforma teammates. Although the group appeared to work well together, the chasers weren’t able to muster the horsepower to pull back a determined Secrist, who finished well ahead of the chasers.

“I got away on one of the hills after the bridge,” Secrist said of her early move. “There were two of them, and I got away on the second one. I didn’t expect to stay away that long, but I just put my head down and kept looking back and kept at it.”

Akeroyd led the chase across the line for second, beating Evans and Butler in a three-up sprint.

Secrist said she plans on racing next weekend in Washington, and then she'll head to California for the Redlands Bicycle Classic with her Veloforma teammates.



1. Evan Elken (Land Rover/Orbea)
2. Paul Bourcier (Hutch's)
3. Matt Ritzow (Paul's Bicycles)


1. Robin Secrist (Veloforma)
2. Jen Akeroyd (Team Group Health)
3. Sue Butler (Monavie/Cannondale)

Find complete OBRA results HERE.

2009 Banana Belt #3