The last three editions of CXLA, a cornerstone for cyclocross racing in SoCal, have taken place at three different locations around the Los Angeles megalopolis. And while the event sites, courses and conditions have changed every year since 2013, the winners have not. In 2015, Jamie Driscoll (Raleigh Clement) and Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) once again staked their claim to double weekend victories in Elite UCI Men’s and Women’s competition, respectively. Nash’s record, in fact, goes all the way back to 2012, making it eight straight in L.A.
This year’s event rolled at Eldorado Park in Long Beach, just down the freeway from its prior residence at Griffith Park (and L.A. Historic Park before that). Conditions for the SoCalCross Prestige Series-backed weekend were typical for the region: mostly flat, twisty, hot (mid- to upper-80s), dry, dusty slick, and likely the bumpiest the USA Cycling ProCX Series regulars will experience all season.
Nash ultimately had smooth sailing in both races, despite a dramatic climate shift from the weekend before when she won in cold, muddy conditions in Lakewood, Washington. “It was a bit of a shock to the system,” Nash admitted. “It was not easy here. We had a good group of fast racers that made it impossible for me to just ride away, so I had to bide my time a bit.”
Her strongest challengers were Caroline Mani (Raleigh Clement), Rachel Lloyd (California Giant/Specialized), Courtenay McFadden (American Classic/Zones) and Elle Anderson (SRAM/Strava). But on both days Nash was able to take advantage of small mistakes by the others and simply had more in the tank in the waning laps to set the stage for her trademark hand slaps with spectators down the finishing straight.
Story and photos by Philip Beckman/PB Creative Photo
Only local favorite Amanda Nauman (SDG/Muscle Monster) was able to wrest a bit of the spotlight away from Nash, coming from behind to secure a fifth-place podium on Saturday, followed by a hard-fought scrap with Caitlyn Vestal (Feedback Sports) for sixth on Sunday.
Driscoll finished off his wins in two completely different ways over the weekend. On Saturday he did it in a thrilling sprint finish to edge Anthony Clark (Squid Bikes) by a nose. On Sunday he found himself with a gap with three to go and was able to power away to a 9-second win and a picture-perfect post-up.
On both days Driscoll circulated in a small group well in front of the field, consisting of Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar), Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized) and the aforementioned Clark. The hard-luck saga of CXLA belonged to Jonathan Page (Page/Fuji) who flatted out of this pod of front-runners on Saturday but was able to recover for sixth, not far behind Mitch Hoke (The Pro’s Closet). On Sunday Page took a flyer from the gun and quickly built a 10-second lead, only to suffer another flat not long after being reeled back. Page nonetheless regrouped well enough to take the fifth step on the podium.
As Driscoll recapped, “On Saturday I tried to get away with three to go, but I wasn’t feeling super spunky and realized it was going to come down to a sprint. Anthony [Clark] has an amazing sprint when he’s fresh, so the last couple of laps I tried to make sure he wasn’t. I think the only reason I won was because I led out of the last corner.”
And as for Day 2, “Today was definitely harder, right from the gun, thanks to Mr. Page,” said Driscoll. “I had my hand on the panic button, that’s for sure. Troy [Wells] did most of the work to get him back, and I was honestly surprised and happy to see Page again. After he flatted and Anthony [Clark] bobbled in the sand with three to go it was just Troy and I. With all the turns here it’s hard to make an all-out attack. You have to be smooth with your power. I gassed it as hard as I felt comfortable, and the gap just sort of happened. You had to really handle your bike out there. It’s flat and it’s dry, but it’s really loose and bumpy…different from off-camber mud, but still plenty of skill involved.”
Full results can be found at SoCalCross.org