Alexis Skarda's Santa Cruz Stigmata

A closer look at the newest offering from Santa Cruz that was piloted to a top five at the SBT GRVL

Clock18:00, Thursday 24th August 2023

In the lead-up to the SBT GRVL, Alexis Skarda has been on a march up the result sheet, so she comes into SBT GRVL with momentum, proverbially speaking. For five hours at SBT, it looked like she might finally crack the top step and leapfrog over Sofia Gomez Villafañe, the top woman in gravel cycling.

While Skarda had a strong race, she was distanced by Villafañe towards the end of the race and suffered in the heat of the afternoon. In the end, it was fourth place for Skarda, but she was proud of the effort and confidence she gained, especially given this result comes hot on the heels of her podium finish at Leadville MTB 100.

“From last year's experience at SBT GRVL, I knew it races like a road race,” Skarda said in an Instagram post after the race. “I put in a good effort at the start to end up in a fast group. My goal was to not be stuck out in no man’s land. I ended up landing in a solid group with Sofia Gomez Villafañe. Since we had a gap on the rest of the women’s field, we played some tactics and worked together for the majority of the race.

"With 30 miles to go, Tiffany Cromwell and Flavia Olivera closed in on us only 10 seconds back, unfortunately right when I was falling apart a bit. I couldn’t hold the pace up the climb and fell back to fourth position to the finish. I was happy, Sofia held the win, made me feel like my effort was helpful.”

In terms of tech, Skarda was riding the same build as the men’s champion, Keegan Swenson. While she chose not to turn the same 52t chainring – Skarda ran a 46t – the drivetrain, tires and finishing kit are all very similar between the two bikes.

Starting from the ground up, Skarda’s Stigmata had Maxxis Velocita 40mm tires on Reserve wheels. Reserve is a Santa Cruz brand, even though their road offerings are some of their best. Thus, the Santa Cruz gravel team, known as the htSQD, has the full complement of wheels. Skarda opted for the middle profile of the Reserve 34/37 wheelset.

The drive train is from SRAM and is replete with the newest toy in the brand's collection: the transmission 1x setup. Along with the 46t front ring to cope with the high speeds of SBT, Skarda used a 10-52t cassette to create a broad spread of gears, which is a necessity even on the fastest gravel courses. Naturally, shifting is handled by SRAM Red electronics.

In terms of the frame, the Stigmata is the newest version of Santa Cruz’s flagship gravel bike and provides more clearance, a slacker geometry and more carrying capacity. Most of the time, these are attributes of a bike that is more built around capability and less around racing. However, as the htSQD has shown, the bike seems capable in race environments as well. Check out the full spec list below.

Bike Specification
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    Santa Cruz

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