CalGiant makes it happen
Madera was one of the few regular stage races (stretching the definition, of course) we had in this area for a number of years … and the TT is decent … and the road race hurts in almost good ways. So, we go.
But after coming from the high-octane festivus and feats of strength that was the MERCO Stage Race … racing Madera was a serious let-down. It was like our unions got busted and we were all back to making minimum wage.
Evan Huffman was pretty dominating this weekend, as was the youth movement of CalGiant. There was an eerie parallel between Bissell’s domination at MERCO and the teamwork and racing tactics put in by the Giant Berries at Madera.
Huffman put in two stellar time trials, then the team rallied around him in the road race – performing a picture perfect display of tactics and delivery. After the requisite furiousity in a road race that establishes the break, 3-men stormed away and the large contingent of Berries settled themselves at the front of the 70-rider field and went about their business.
Veterans Ozzie Olmos and Keith Miller guided the young team to a masterful pace-setting – keeping the break in sight, reeling them in late, then launching Huffman away in the deal-sealing final move that secured the GC victory.
The break was being driven by superpowerhouse Logan Loader. Loader was close enough on GC that the CalGiant chase behind was legit and focused. The Berries could not lay off the throttle. Loader was very, very impressive. Again.
Late in the race – Vinny Owens of Sierra Pacific threw a haymaker attack and Huffman followed. Ken Peterson joined them and they ended up with a significant lead on the shattered pack that would finish behind. Owens would take the stage win and move up to 2nd in GC behind Huffman. Awesome.
Madera pictures and results are posted – but I heard there might be a couple of errors – so can’t say if that’ll all change.
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There’s always more stories that deserve highlighting – but there are a few notables I’d like to snip out from the p1/2s at Madera:
- Specialized Red-Youth, Kyle Torres, scorching up the Ben Hur opening TT in a 32:45 for 2nd place. kapow, that’s huge. Russ White had told me this kid was one to watch. Torres backed that hillclimb result up with a strong 22:31 in the flat TT the next morning. That’s showing some ability to stay in the hurtwagon.
- Marc Pro-Stava’s Justin Rossi crushed the flat TT Saturday morning … bruising the clock at a 21:22. Loader was the silver medal for the TT by a few seconds … giving a bit of scare to all those people who thought this was a kid only made for the field sprints. That’s fast ragin’ against the clock, yo.
- Eric Wohlberg winning the crit. Hello?… that man can bite through f*cking steel.
- Heal up thoughts to Brian Bosch. He was caught in a pretty big pileup in the p1/2 criterium Saturday afternoon. There was no where for him to go but right into, over, and through guys who had stacked it in front of him. Get well, BigB.
And also worth noting were the team colors Bosch was in this weekend … back to riding with the Sierra Pacific squad. For some reason, the Yahoo! cycling team decided to let go one of the best cyclists this region has ever seen. So that just leaves Pat Briggs as the sole cyclist on that squad from a year ago. Oh, indications…
- Webcor’s one result of the weekend, Tore Nauta‘s 21:47 in the TT for 5th. That’s a solid result … but Rand Miller needs to get his chubby butt out to more races.
Women p1/2 … surprises
The big story of the weekend was how the women of Norcal forgot about, or underestimated the power of Cara Gillis. Gillis rides out of SoCal for the Missing Link Training Systems/Specialized-something-or-others, and has come up north in the past to race the Kern County Women’s Stage Race. She was also a former Touchstone Climbing rider.
On lap 2 of the road race, Gillis leapt out of the field and threw all of her cards on the table. Soon after, her teammate Leah Guloien and Metromint’s Annie Fulton bridged across and the winning break was established – never to be seen again.
Metromint had a tough tactical decision to make – allow Fulton a chance to get a result of her own, or chase the move down and try and launch Molly Van Houweling into a GC winning effort of her own.
Now, the situation at that point was quite intriguing – MVH was second in GC by 29 seconds to a Seattle area rider, Rae Shaw -who had pulled out a blistering TT win, clocking a 23:14. Gillis was over a minute down on MVH, but ahead of Fulton by 1:16.
If Metromint allows Gillis up the road, they are giving her the GC unless Fulton can attack her and gain a huge amount of time. Owch. Or, the team is content to give Fulton a chance at 2nd in the GC if the break gets over 2 minutes on the field, overtaking both Shaw, MVH, and Olivia Dillon.
Oh, mental machinations!
Well, in the women’s road race pack – the field was animated by constant attacks from PB&Co’s Irish Road and TT Champion, Olivia Dillon and Fremont Bank’s Beth Newell. But attack as those two might, Metromint seemed to have made their decision to back Fulton’s bid for a result, and tried to smothered anything that went off the front.
Late heroics by Vanderkitten’s Vanessa Drigo, Metromint’s Jane Robertson, and a few accelerations by Yahoo’s Jane Despas were all brought back by the field. But on the final lap, RedRacing’s Michelle Melka would put in a big dig and stave off the field for 4th on the day, bumping her up to 8th in GC. Nice effort.
Gillis would end up crushing the road race, securing the stage win and stealing away the GC. It was well-earned. Metromint’s Fulton would get a 2nd on the stage and in GC … very likely her best result in the p1/2s to date.
Of course there are arguments to be made that Metromint should have chased down the Gillis-led breakaway. But, I’m of the opinion that it’s very cool to share the wealth on a team, and Fulton getting a big result is something worth fighting for.
Other women’s notables from the weekend:
- Beth Newell won the criterium on day 1 with a monster 350meter sprint, launched from midway back in the pack out of the final turn. She won it just ahead of Webcor’s Aussie recruit, Rebecca Werner … a rider very much worth watching ~ as she has the guts and passion to match a powerfully compact riding style.
With CalAggie and the Folsom crits earlier this year, that’s the 3rd field sprint win for Newell … moving her into fairly elite ranks of fast women in our region.
- Olivia Dillon was THE marked rider for the weekend. It’s a tough position to be in … one that pro’s like Ben Jacques-Maynes and Roman Kilun have learned to deal with while racing on the local circuit.
Racing with that big of a target on your back does improve one as a cyclist, however. It forces more creativity in racing tactics and demands a serious attention to tendencies and decisions made by other teams and riders. But it can be frustrating when you’re used to riding at the professional/international level.
Still … it’s a damn good workout.
- Field neutralization …
Unfortunately, the 35+cat4 men’s field caught the women’s field on their finishing lap, which was lap 3 of the women’s race. The Gillis break was under 2-minutes at this point, with the racing getting very hot and heavy as Newell and Dillon had been going on the serious offensive. It was crunch time. But the neutralization had a direct effect on the race, even though the break was neutralized for a short time, as well.
Ah well, and ah hell.
There are strong arguments to make that the 35+4 field could have been safely neutralized for a brief few minutes to allow gap to re-open to the women’s field, so both fields would have had a safe, non-intrusive shot at their races. There were no fields within 5 minutes behind the 35+4 field, and the pack was together.
It is what I would have done.
But, the larger point is … the 35+4 field started 10 minutes behind the women’s p1/2 field. Ladies … you should have been racing faster. That’s just the bottom line. Your race was too slow. I don’t want to say that the racing was ‘negative’ … but, you’re in the p1/2 field now. Get aggressive, take risks, ride your asses off. That first and second lap were just too slow. Old cat 4 men should not be putting 10 minutes into you in under 40 miles.
Other notes from Madera:
Brian Choi, Stuzio.com, won the 35+ field in an awesome breakaway with a small group. He won it over Yahoo’s Kevin Klein by a second, with Specialized’s Dean Laberge 3rd at 2 seconds. That is close.
Laberge won both the criterium and road race with his characteristically daunting sprint.
The 45+ was won by Cale Reeder, due to the unbelievable 21:50 thrown down in the time trial.
The 55+ was won by Reno hardman and never say die strongheart, Paul Gossi. It was pretty sweet to see this guy get the win against some pretty strong teams.
Metromint scored another Cat 3 stage race win with Paralympian Kelly Crowley. Her teammmate Lina Martensson grabbed a solid second in GC, with Ruste Jenkins getting her best results with a road race win and 3rd on GC.
Again, there’s more stories that deserve telling out of any stage race … even one as backwoods and cow-country ghetto as Madera. But, that’s all I’ve got for now.
One last thing … Leopard bikes
I’m writing up a review of Leopard Bikes DC-1. They contacted me a couple weeks ago and wanted me to test drive their frame.
Well, after shoving it around that damn MERCO hairpin about 90 times for both the 35+ and p1/2 criteriums, climbing after a bunch of Bissell monsters, and ramming it over the roubaix’d roads of Madera … I think i’ve got a pretty good idea of what makes these Leopard bikes so sought after.
Check tomorrow for my full review of the bike … now I’m just pissed i have to give it back.
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