Wards Ferry is one of the minor Spring Classics. It’s a cross between Gent-Wevelgem, when it was a mid-week race, and one of the hilly Ardennes races. It gets overshadowed by other Velo Promo Spring Classics like Snelling, and Copperopolis, but it’s a race won by hard heads like Klein, Huffman, and Oliveira.
Weather plays a big role in central valley races and the recent sprinkles kept the normal crowds home so the organizers combined the Mens Masters 123, P12, and Cat 3 fields. In the early laps the field was pushed by Jonathan Moskowitz (Fremont Bank), Adrien Costa (Slipstream development team), and Charles Hutcheson (Marc Pro Strava). Costa was constantly on the rivet attacking each time the they hit anything with an incline, but the group kept coming back together on the descents.
“ It was really hurting, but we still had almost the full field there, so I didn’t know if I was having a bad day, or if it was just fast. Seems like Costa was attacking every steep pitch with a pop that I couldn’t match” ~ Chris Phipps
Attrition took a good chunk of the field but there in the background was Chris Phipps. Phipps had some to Wards Ferry with the idea helping his teammate Paul Drywal get into a break. Phipps is old by P12 standards. Some guys can make a go of it in their late 30′s and early 40′s but they are either pro’s or freaks. Phipps is freak of nature through and through. After watching Horner & Chavenel get swallowed up in the last 200 meters of a Tour de France stage Phipps was inspired, at the age of 35, to go buy a bike and start racing. He won his first race. His first race was Mt. Tam. Freaks. I hate em.
With that race as his inspiration Phipps decided to pour it on full gas for a few minutes to see what would happend and when he looked it was down to him and three other partners in crime Costa [Cat 3], Kevin Leong ([Cat 3] Freewheel Brite Sport) and Andres Gil ([35+] Michael David Winery.) As the only P12 rider in the break Phipps was assured the win if his group stayed away. Here’s the cool part.
”Once we had a big gap I figured the 4 of us would stay away & I would win my 1st P/1/2 race that wasn’t a hill climb, but I still wanted to be the 1st across the line if I could. I figured the other guys could beat me in a sprint.” ~ Chris Phipps
Even though he was assured the win, Phipps wanted to be the FIRST guy across the line. In a move that would have done Horner proud, Phipps got on the front, kept the pace high and once he broke the spirit of his companions he took the gap he created and rolled across the line solo for victory. Impressive ride for Costa and Leong too… i imagine we are going to be seeing a lot of those boys when they upgrade in a few weeks.
Wards Ferry draws and abnormally small women’s field and this year was no exceptions. The Steven’s Pactimo team, NorCal’s most dedicated regional team, showed up with small force and put both Susannah Breen (1st) and Fiona Strouts (2nd) on the podium. A great confidence and fitness builder for the team before Copperopolis and Mt Hamilton sneak up on us.
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