Striking distance |

Striking distance

Spencer Ericksen celebrated Father’s Day Sunday by returning to the roots of his cycling career.

Ericksen, who blew away the Category 3 field of up-and-coming pro talent in the 48th annual Nevada City Classic, got started in the sport after beginning things on a much smaller bike years ago.

“I used to race BMX as a kid,” Ericksen said, while awaiting his moment in the sun atop the podium. “My dad hasn’t watched me race in almost 20 years. I brought him out today and thought I’d put on a show for him.”

That show was no cliffhanger, as the end result was apparent early on. Ericksen quickly motored his way to a lead that left only a crash or mechanical trouble to keep him from winning his first run at Nevada City.

“This is fantastic,” said Ericksen, a member of the Reno Wheelmen. “There’s no better race in the world. The crowd is great. The course is great – you feel like puking every lap. It just doesn’t get any harder than this.”

Ericksen’s large lead left the rest of the Cat 3 riders to battle for second and third place, which were claimed by Chris Stastny (Davis Bike Club) and Aron Bonar (Sycip/Schwalbe), respectively.

Local rider Chris Thibodeau, a former standout halfback with the Nevada Union Miners football team, made his first run at Nevada City and kept his pace fast enough to not be pulled from the field – a feat many top pros have failed to pull off.

Thibodeau, who has progressed from Beginner to Expert class in mountain biking in nearly just six months time, finished 20th in the 25-man field.

But finish he did.

“It was awesome,” Thibodeau said. “I just finished on one the hardest races there is. I’m definitely excited.

“It was my first time doing a very prestigious race. I’m excited to be part of it and to finish it.”

Women’s 1/2, 3/4

Another local rider made some serious noise in the Women’s race, as Nevada City’s Erin Moeschler took sixth place in the Pro 1/2 event.

But on Sunday, Moeschler and the rest of the field couldn’t stay with Sarah Bamberger, who brought home a victory for Cheerwine Cycling. Betina Hold, who raced unattached, took second place and Ally Stacher of Bob’s Bicycles finished third.

Two Wells Fargo riders shared the podium with Pro 3/4 winner Lindsay Myers of the Dewars Cycling team. Cody Clark and Jennie Phillips finished second and third for the Wells Fargo team.

Ron Miller Junior Grand Prix

Bruce Hoffman put in all the hard work, but in the end the Grass Valley native fell short of a bid for his third in the Nevada City Classic’s Ron Miller Junior Grand Prix.

With one lap remaining Tiene Duro’s Peter Taylor held what looked like an insurmountable lead on the rest of the pack. But Hoffman was having none of it. The Grass Valley-born cyclist went to work on reeling in the younger Taylor, eventually overtaking the lead at the top of Broad Street.

But as they approached the finish line for the final time, Bryan Larsen of Placerville stole the show and the victory.

“On that last lap, I knew (Hoffman) would be the guy who would be on the attack,” Larsen said. “We caught the leader at the flat part of the course, right at the top.

“I came around the little bend at the top of the hill and got as aero(dynamic) as I could. I just barely got by him at the line.”

Hoffman, though disappointed not to have the third win in Nevada City, seemed somewhat satisfied by his final lap run.

“I attacked coming up the hill, but he was just the bigger guy coming down the hill,” said Hoffman, who won the 2005 and 2007 Junior event.

Masters Men

Much like the way Spencer Ericksen dominated the Cat 3 race, Dan Martin left the field in the dust in the Masters event.

The VOS Racing rider broke away midway through the race to win the 35-and-older division, leaving Andrew Barlow of Team NorCal in second and Jeff Angermann of Team Specialized in third.

Two more members of the local Sierra Express/Tour of Nevada City team also competed in the Masters 45-and-over division, with Craig Lindberg leading the way in fifth place. John Sievert, also of the Sierra Express/Tour of Nevada City team, took 17th place.

For complete official results of Sunday’s races, see Tuesday’s edition of The Union.

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail or call 477-4240.

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