As the mountain bike season wound down in September, Santa Cruz Factory Racing’s newest member, Tobin Ortenblad, quietly kicked off his cyclocross season. In one of the biggest months of US cyclocross racing ever, Tobin tested his legs against the best 'cross racers in the world and racked up a run of top-five and top-ten finishes.
“It all went perfect,” Tobin said of his first block of racing that included five UCI C1 and C2 races along with two World Cups. “I knew that I had done the work in the offseason, but I was nervous to see how it would play out once the racing started.”
His consecutive fourth and fifth place finishes at the first races of the season in Rochester, NY let everyone know just what the fresh-faced Santa Cruz local could do.
Confidence gained from his stellar weekend back east led Factory Racing’s ‘cross ace to a string of top-ten finishes in C1 and C2 races against ratcheted-up competition with the World Cups approaching. At the Trek CXC Cup C2 in Wisconsin, Tobin was the first North American across the line in eighth place against an impressive international field.
Tobin battled hard in his first World Cup appearance at Cross-Vegas. Despite a hard crash while warming up and a physical course that provided no respite, he rallied his Stigmata to 27th place overall and third among the Americans. Three days later the world’s best ‘crossers reconvened at the Jingle Cross World Cup. On a muddy and technical course, Tobin managed to match his Vegas result with another 27th place and more world-class experience under his belt.
When the dust finally settled at the end of September, USA Cycling’s Pro CX standings had Ortenblad ranked second among American cross racers.
“I managed to stay consistent throughout the month, so I was expecting to be up there,” Ortenblad said. “Second place was just the cherry on top of a great start to the season.”
After taking the US under-23 national championship last winter, the Santa Cruz local joined Santa Cruz Factory Racing this year for his first season in the elite ranks. As he heads into the busiest months of the ‘cross calendar Ortenblad aims to be one of the top cyclocross racers in the US with the goal of a high finish at the elite national championships in January.
“It’s super cool to be working with a local company with such an authentic brand and a great reputation,” Ortenblad said. “I’m excited to show people that the Stigmata is a World Cup-caliber bike.”