While the Sea Otter commonly draws the top pros from North America and a number
of top pros from overseas, the competition is rarely as tough as at a World Cup race,
where the top racers on the planet battle for the top spots. This year offered one notable exception to that rule in the cross-country class.
Three-time world champion Nino Schurter from Switzerland showed up to do battle
with the Sea Otter’s cross-country riders. While some riders thought it would be a slam
dunk for such a cycling superstar, Nino had some stiff competition thanks to an incredible challenge from Howard Grotts, the young Specialized pro who had dominated the
intercollegiate ranks, and thanks to Australia’s Daniel McConnell, who won a World
Cup in Germany in 2013. After two laps of the 17-mile course, the race came down
to a sprint to the finish. The three racers finished just a few feet apart, all in the same
second on the official time clock.
As for the women’s races, reigning world champion Catharine Pendrel came down
from Canada to take on the top women, including fellow Canadian Emily Batty,
Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds and Australia’s Rebecca Henderson.
As any smart rider might expect, world champions are tough to beat.
THE NINO SCHURTER SHOW
Dust storm: Todd Wells
held the lead for a while in
the first lap of the Pro Men’s
Cross-Country battle, with
over 120 pros strung out
behind him. Nino Schurter
can be seen sitting back in
fifth place here, biding his
time before his attack.
Rising star: Howard Grotts took second in
the Elite Men’s cross-country class.