Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic Presented by Mercy Medical Center
Merced Irrigation District (MID) Road Race, Lake McClure – 1 March 2012
The 2012 edition of the Merco Cycling Classic is underway. Today saw the men’s race kick off with the MID Road Race at Lake McClure, near Snelling, California. The stage, in only it’s second running, is a square, 12.5 mile loop that features a 1.5-mile, 592-foot (180m) climb. The finishing-climb from the inaugural event was replaced this year with a level portion of McClure Road, about 4 miles from the start making a spectator friendly sprint finish more likely.
Patrick Bevin (BISSELL Pro Cycling), showing his cards early, was the first rider to reach the top of the climb. Bevin passed early leader Christaan Kriek (Simple Green Bike Religion), winner of last weeks Snelling RR, within 200m of the top. It was an ominous omen (extrapoints for OO wordplay) for Simple Green who continued to put riders into the repeated breakaway attempts without reward. The trigger happy field pulled in every break leaving race announcer Dave Towle uttering the phrase “grupo compacto” more frequently than his trademark “one-to-go.”
With two laps remaining, the ugly skies began to spit; but the failed to stop the pro’s as the precipitation was too small and too late. A group of riders took a lead of 37 seconds as they crossed the start/finish line on the bell lap but the attempt was countered by the peloton which quickly started to prepare for a sprint finish.
The sprint blasted down the new section of road with Logan Loader (Team Exergy) and Eric Young (BISSELL Pro Cycling) looking strong, yet, it was Bevin who won the field sprint with a tidy bike length on his teammate. NorCal favorite,Loader was just behind in third, capping off a successful for his first big finish on his new Team Exergy squad. “I’m pleased with the result,” said Loader after the race. “It’s the first race of the year for myself and the team and I think this gives us a bench mark of what to expect in the future.”
Although last year BISSELL put six riders in the top ten with four in the top five, this year’s one-two result was more impressive with what looks like a more competitive field. “It’s a bit different with the [sprint] finish this year,” said Bevin, “We weren’t really going to stick a break and be able to ride at the finish like last year. We rode for [a] sprint and with Eric [Young] and myself ready to have a crack it was a good tactic.”
Bevin admitted that Young was the “designated man on the back. Just the way it played out it was just so long [of a sprint]. I had the legs when we stepped down for the win at 350m to go. It wasn’t exactly how we planned it but you can’t argue with the result.”
Finishing fourth was Tyler Brandt (Team Mike’s Bikes) as he and his team continue to show good form; team mate Andrew Goessling came home in sixth. Rounding out the top five was Lee Muse (CashCall Mortgage). Mikes Bike’s team manager Steve Pelaez was pleased with his young squads performance against more seasoned national and regional teams, “Amazing riding by the team. Everyone came together at the end and setup our lead out train against Bissell, Exergy, and Kelly Benefits. It shows a what a collective team effort can accomplish.”
Loader is currently the best hope for a NorCal GC podium, though the time trial will shake up the standings. “I think we just have to see how the TT goes tomorrow,” said Loader about the upcoming stages. “I’ll give it a go and we will see what happens. Bissell has some great guys, and we all know they have a very strong team. But I know our team is here to race and the boys seem motivated, so we just have to wait and see what happens, wether we race for GC, or stage wins.”
Coverage of the 2012 Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic presented by Mercy Medical Center
- Day 1 Mercy Medical Center Merced Irrigation District (MID) Road Race
- Day 2 Merced Boosters Time Trial
- Day 3 McDonalds Down Town Grand Prix
- Day 4 Hilltop Ranch Road Race
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