Stage 3, Madera Stage Race presented by Velo Promo and the Golden Chain Cyclists
The Madera Criterium went off on Saturday, 10 March, under warm and sunny skies. The square course is flat on well-paved roads and over one railroad track crossing. For the race for Women Cat 1-2 it was “trackies-rule” whilst the Men Pro 1-2 race ended under some confusion.
The Women’s race saw two early, solo breakaways. Alison Tetrick (Exergy Twenty12) attacked first and held the lead for 5 laps. Then Rebecca Werner (SportVelo Racing) took her turn for two laps. In both instances, the field kept well in touch. A late dig by Touchstone Climbing ended in similar fashion as everybody was bunched up, and so it was with four to go.
In the field sprint, Flavia Olivera (Kovarus/Wells Fargo Racing Team), Juliette Olson (RED Racing), Marissa Axell (Touchstone Climbing), and Maura Kinsella (Venderkitten-FOCUS) were all in with a shout for the win. However, it was track racer Kira Prokopakis (Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club) who took first, appearing to cross the finish line in an almost serene effort. “My team mates took care of me really well and led me through the pack,” said Prokopakis, “I usually set up for the sprint and Nina [Strika (Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club)] led me out. It was beautiful.” Olivera finished in second place just in front of Kinsella. Axell came home in fifth place as her late charge was unable to take fourth away from Olsen.
For the Men’s race, Chris Lunning (Marc Pro-Strava) was the first to attack on lap three. Ken Hanson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Robin Eckmann (California Giant/Specialized) were the next to take an early lead. Throughout the race, many racers would push to the front but quickly look back to monitor the field. Despite plenty of activity, nothing was sticking.
With under 10 laps remaining, Reid Mumford (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) built a small gap with several teammates massing at the front of the pack. At six to go, a four racer break formed with Scott Zwizanski (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Chris Stastny (California Giant/Specialized), Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL Pro Cycling), and Mike Friedman (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies).
However, two laps later it was a solo breakaway by Tom Soladay (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) that appeared to show an Optum team strategy; again, there were several of his team’s racers at the head of the pack seemingly slowing the pace for Soladay. Then, on the next lap, confusion began.
With two laps remaining on the cards, race officials belatedly started to ring the bell then quickly changed the lap card from two to one. By the time the card was flipped, several racers had already passed by the start/finish line. Coming around the final corner, a five racer sprint had begun. In this group were Hanson, Andy Jacques-Maynes (Kenda/5 Hour Energy), Friedman, Alex Candelario (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), and Dave McCook (McGuire Cycling Team). Hanson was the winner by two bike lengths over Andy Jacques-Maynes. To continue the confusion, some riders continued to race on and contest another sprint finish as they came around again.
“We had Tom Soladay off the front with about five to go, solo,” described Hanson, “So we lined our guys up. [We] just decided that, if the paced was going to get lifted a little higher, then we would do the lead out and try to set it up for me for the sprint. It got really confusing [with the bell and lap counter] but the guys did a really good job. Alex Candelario gave me the leadout [so] I was able to come over and hold on for the sprint.”
The officials explained they mistakenly rang the bell one lap early. An explanation of the rules gives precedence to the bell but discretion remains for the judge to decide on the results or for more racing. The final, official results have Hanson winning over Andy Jaques-Maynes, Candelario finishing third ahead of Friedman in fourth, and McCook in fifth place.
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