Three weeks after the US ProXCT series kicked off at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic in Texas, it resumed on Saturday at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California. Racers were greeted by sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid 80’s. For those like team ShoAir-Cannondale’s Jeremiah Bishop who hail from colder climates, the warm temperatures would pose an even greater challenge.
The early season race showcased a deep field with current national cross-country champion Sam Schultz, constant threat Todd Wells, and Raphael Gagne, the current Canada Cup overall champion. From the gun, the entire field sprinted the start loop, jockeying for prime position for the first steep climb. Gagne got the holeshot with Bishop on his wheel and Wells following closely.
By the second lap, Gagne, Bishop and Wells had dropped the rest of the field and worked together to build their lead. The short, very steep climbs on the Bonelli course combined with the heat punished riders. On the third lap, it was clear that Wells was paying the price for the early pace and he lost contact with Bishop and Gagne.
Bishop and Gagne traded attacks through lap four and five. Halfway through lap five Bishop landed the decisive blow with a blistering attack on Gagne. He didn’t look back and soon had a 30 second lead. When he came around for his final lap, Bishop had almost a minute on Gagne, with Wells a distant third. From there, Bishop just had to hang on and ride conservatively to avoid crashing or mechanicals that could spoil a victory.
At the finish, Bishop came through with 1:02 over Gagne and 2:09 over Wells. Schultz finished fourth 2:40 back. Upon crossing the line, Bishop commented, “I am just so happy to start the season like this. With a second in Texas and a win here, everything is on track. The team support has been phenomenal and I can't thank the staff enough.”