Sea Otter Classic’s First-Ever eMTB Race Electrifies Crowds
The mountainside of the Laguna Seca Raceway was picked with spectators on a sunny Friday afternoon at Sea Otter Classic on April 15 eager to see the start of a new era in mountain bike racing. The Haibike eMTB Race epowered by Bosch drew in the interest and excitement of cyclists near and far to test themselves for 60 minutes on a challenging 1.5 mile race course packed with steep hills and challenging descents.
Over 110 riders registered for the inaugural eMTB Race, 30 of which competed in the Bosch Industry Challenge – a class featuring a $5,000 cash purse to be donated to the local trail-building non-profit organization of the winner’s choice.
The Industry Challenge champion for 2016 was Mike Kluge, who chose the Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA) as recipient of the winnings. Kluge is a multiple German champion, amateur 1980s cyclo-cross world champion, and professional 1992 world champion. In 1992 he founded the world class mountain bike company Focus Bikes.
“Being part of the first eMTB race was amazing! IT gives a totally new dimension to mountain biking. I have raced all my life by enjoy riding my e-bike the most,” Kluge said during his acceptance speech.
“Mike is a legend in the mountain bike industry and super talented athlete,” said Claudia Wasko, General Manager of Bosch eBike Systems Americas. “We congratulate him on his victory and applaud his decision to donate the money to the local IMBA chapter that calls Sea Otter its home, MORCA.”
“I would like to thank Mike Kluge for choosing MORCA for the donation, and Bosch for sponsoring the event. We will the money to good use building, maintaining and supporting the trails in Monterey County. This donation will go a long way to improving the trails in the area,” said Joel Trice, President of MORCA.
The eMTB race sparked a diverse roster of entrants. Runner-ups for the industry Challenge included the up-and-coming 18 year-old Dillon Santos of Salinas, CA, who entered to represent his local bike shop, and 36 year-old Alexandra Mantovani, a professional road racing cyclist from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Asked about his experience after the race, Mantovani said with a huge smile, “I’m definitely racing again in 2017.”
Overall, the first-ever eMTB Race for both Sea Otter Classic and the United States captured all the all the excitement expected of a high-stakes race category. The competitive spirit of Sea Otter continues to reach new heights through eMTB racing, thanks to the support of Bosch, Haibike and the many eMTB brands that brought their eMTB technology to the race like BH Easy Motion, Bulls, Felt, Focus, KTM, Specialized and more.