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 So Cal Cross Cup Finals
Bakersfield, CA

Brent Prenzlow photographed by Mitch Clinton.

A long, hard ride in mud

1/9/2005 - By RON STAPP, Special to The Bakersfield Californian

Prenzlow wins Men's A division as regional circuit's season ends

The trip home may have gotten a little longer for a few competitors as the result of the final Southern California Cyclo-cross Cup series event Sunday at Hart Park.

Carlsbad's Brent Prenzlow took care of business, winning the Men's A division event, but his Celo Pacific teammate -- and ride home -- John Behrens fell short.

Behrens needed to finish ahead of Leonardo Sandoval in the race to enable Prenzlow to secure second place in the overall points race.

But Sandoval, like his fellow "crossers," outlasted the mud and rain to finish third, one position ahead of Behrens.

"Oh, yeah," said Prenzlow with a good-natured smile when asked if he would give Behrens a hard time on the way home. "We were plotting all the way up for him to do it, but Leo was too fast today, so hats off to Leo."

Prenzlow took control of the race from the outset, distancing himself from series champion Mark Noble of Oxnard and the rest of the seven-man field on the opening turn.

"I pulled away right there," said Prenzlow, pointing to the first hill. "I was really surprised that Mark Noble wasn't closer in the beginning. By the time I got up the first run-up, I already had a sizeable gap on him.

"Once I had a lead, I just tried to increase it as much as possible to discourage him, and I had the lead the whole day"

As it turned out, Noble was less than 100 percent after competing in a velodrome cycle race Saturday night.

"I was hurting," said Noble, who had already clinched the points title heading into the race. "I was just trying to get through it today, but Brent ran a good ride. I hoped I'd be able to go with him, but I couldn't."

In other action, Dorothy Wong of Altadena continued her dominance in the Women's A division, cruising through the field to solidify her points championship.

"The conditions made it a lot harder," said Wong, who is one of many competitors that also helped staff the event. "It was very slippery; it was steep and sticky. Once the bike touches sticky mud, it sticks and mud gets on your front brakes and makes it harder.

"So now suddenly you're riding a bike easily in a normal, dry scenario and now you have 10 extra pounds of mud and grass kind of sticking."

Other winners include Ryan Rickart (Men's B), Chris Gallup (Master's 35-and-older), Robert Abell (Master's 54-and-younger), Lee Willmore (Master's 55-and-older), Al Morinaka (Men's C), Graysen Oldham (Junior A), Logan Board (Junior B) and Susan Cooper (Women's B).

"We usually don't have this much mud in Southern California, but this year we've had more muddy races," said Prenzlow, who has won five of the seven races he has entered in this season's SoCal series.

"It makes it a little more interesting, a little tougher, but this is true cyclo-cross conditions -- a treat for SoCal racers."