Copperopolis Road Race
7 April 2012
Today’s 32nd running of the Copperopolis Road Race, presented by Velo Promo and the Golden Chain Cyclists, was replete with outstanding racing. The tough, jarring course broke up fields in many categories lending credence to the finishers. However, one formidable individual effort went for naught after a protest that affected the outcome of a race.
The field for Women 1-2, though small in number, was large in quality. Multiple-medalist at the recent Pan Am Track Championship Beth Newell (NOW and Novartis for MS) took to the course along with Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten-Focus), Loren Rowney (Specialized-lululemon), Marley Smith (Steven’s Bikes p/b Pactimo), and many other top NorCal racers. It was Smith taking the front early on the first uphill but the field was close behind. By the second lap, passing the Salt Spring Valley Reservoir, a group of seven led the race with a second group further back. There were also scattered racers in between and beyond.
Newell, Rebecca “Wombat” Werner (SportVelo Racing), Heather Van Sickle (Steven’s Bikes p/b Pactimo), and Devon Gorry (NOW and Novartis for MS) were part of the lead group. “It was me against three Stevens and three NOW and Novartis girls so [the] odds were against me,” said Werner, “I got off the front with Olivia [Dillon (NOW and Novartis for MS)] and, unfortunately for her, she flatted and I just kept going there on the last lap. It was a bit lucky but [I'm] happy with the win, yeah.” By the accounts of others, the Wombat put in an outstanding ride to stay ahead of the chase group and win the race. NOW and Novartis for MS teammates Devon Gorry and Newell respectively took second and third places. Amber Gaffney (SC VELO/Empower Coaching) crossed the line in fourth place with Van Sickle taking fifth.
In the Men Pro-1-2 race, the first two laps were calm although Marc Pro-Strava racers were seen moving around the front of the peloton in animated fashion. By the second lap, the field was clearly breaking up with individual racers and groups spread off the back. “[I] laid low for the first couple of laps and a guy from Kenda attacked with 50 miles to go,” said Mauricio Prada (Allegiant Airlines/Pain MD’s.com), “nobody reacted, I went with him, and I knew it was a long way to go but we worked really hard.” A three-racer break took a good lead on the field. Prado was up front sporting a helmet designed for the 40-degree temperatures at the start of the race, less so for the temperatures later that morning.
On the final lap, Kirk Carlsen (prooFFcycling.com), initially unaware of the three racers out front, made his move to bridge to the leaders. “Going over the last lap, Max [Jenkins (Competitive Cycling Racing Team)] told me there [are] three guys out in front,” said Carlsen, “So I went really hard over the climb, bridge up to them at the top of the climb, and sat on for just a few minutes to recoup.” Carlsen said it was hard bridging and he had to go alone for a good portion of the distance to the leaders. Once there, Carlsen’s pulls and attacks kept up the pressure and he was able to lead his closest competitor, Prado, and cross the finish line first.
It was here that the race took a turn. Clearly agitated over the racing by his competitor, Carlsen ran off some colourful language. The short tirade was audible to most of the spectators and race officials at the finish line. In their post-race interviews with NorCal Cycling News, both Prado and Carlsen laid claim to the other’s expectations being out of sync with their own. In the heat of the race, this “misunderstanding” worked against Carlsen as race officials came to the fore. The outcome: a disqualification for Carlsen under rule 1Q6(b), that reads “No rider or licensee may use foul or abusive language or conduct during a race event.”
All other racers moved up one place and Prado was awarded the win. Prado reluctantly said, after the official’s decision, that such was not the way he wanted to win but perhaps the actions in question weren’t so deserving either. Jonathan Teeter (Marc Pro-Strava) inherited second place whilst Stephen Leece (California Giant/Specialized) took third. Max Jenkins (Competitive Cycling Racing Team) scored a fourth place finish with James Stemper (Kenda/5-Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder) getting the fifth spot.
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