The sixth race for the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) also happened to be the penultimate event for the Pro Cross Country Tour or Pro XCT, giving competitors seeking national recognition a final chance to race before cross country national. The newly named WORS Cup was held in a new venue compared to previous Pro XCT races in Wisconsin. Conveniently located near Madison, Cascade Mountain in Portage, WI hosted the three day event. Friday night lights gave the Pro Men an added challenge for the short track races. The Men’s Pro Short Track was the final heat for the day at 9:15 pm. Stephen Etinger (BMC Mountainbike Racing) took the win for the men with 5 second gap. Local pro’s Brian Matter (KS Energy Services/Team WI) and Cole House (Intelligentsia Coffee/ Broken) sprinted for second place with House narrowly sneaking past Matter at the finish. The Pro Women got to enjoy the last bits of sunlight before dusk for their race. The lead was traded many times but ultimately went to Chloe Woodruff (backcountry.com Bike Team) with a 2 second gap over Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes-VCGraphix.com). Another 2 seconds back was Woodruff’s teammate, Evelyn Dong (backcountry.com). The main event was the cross country race. The pro women went first for 5 laps of the 3.6 mile course. The newly designed track featured a more than fair amount of climbing mixed with a number of man-made obstacles to keep riders on their toes and out of their saddles. Volunteers have been working on the course for several weeks in preparation for the event. Spectators lined the trail in sections like the Boarder Lans, an obstacle course featuring a gap jump followed by a section of whoops and a descent through a set of timber stairs. This is followed by the Trek Skills Area which consisted of a curved wood bridge between two narrow trees followed by a fan filled stepped rock garden descent. The trail comes back on itself a few times to allow the crowds many cheering and photo opportunities. The lap starts with a steep sandy climb. Some early confusion by a few riders at the top allowed Evelyn Dong (backcountry.com) to take the lead. She handled the course smoothly and stretched out her gap on each lap. Behind her was Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes-VCGraphix.com) trying to close the gap. Erin had been right on the wheel of Chloe Woodruff in the short track on friday night for a 2nd place finish there as well and finished her weekend with two 2nd place medals. The 3rd and 4th place spots were in the air until Megan Carrington (Naked Womens RacingUSA) moved away from Chloe Woodruff (backcountry.com Bike Team) to solidify 3rd place. Woodruff finished strong with 4th place to add to her short track win from the night before. The day had been warm and sticky, which is customary in Wisconsin on race day. But for the Pro Men’s cross country event, the skies opened up and left the trail a sketchy mess. The dirt is very hard packed and fast when dry, but gained a layer of mud in the later laps for an added element of caution. Todd Wells (Team Specialized) battled against Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountainbike Racing) for much of the race. But, according to Ettinger, Wells took a few turns a little better and climbed a few hills with better traction in the mud. Wells said that it was almost comical the way they were trying to stay upright. Several photos showed racers with one foot unclipped, taking turn motocross style. But, in the end, the Olympian, Todd Wells took the win. Ettinger grabbed a respectable 2nd place to add to his short track gold. Local legend Brian Matter (KS Energy Services/ Team WI) took an impressive 3rd place to give him his best Pro XCT finish to date. Matter combined his 3rd place XCT finish with a 3rd in short track to give him the best weekend results for any local WORS regular competitor. Rotem Ishay (Team Jamis Bikes) grabbed the 4th step on the podium. The WORS series continues after Cross Country nationals at Mt Morris, WI for the Nordic Mountain XC on August 17th. Nordic Mountain is the former site of the Pro XCT race for Wisconsin but continues to be a regular event on the WORS calendar.
Report by Todd Nutter