• Nash Again as Leece Adds His Name to List of Winners

    by  • June 18, 2012 • Crit, norcal scene, race coverage

    52nd Annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic
    18 June 2012

    Final Report

    Temperatures in the nineties at yesterday’s Nevada City Bicycle Classic did little to dissuade many taking up the challenge, racer and spectator alike. The course and heat did quickly break apart the racing fields; attrition was significant in all race categories. Nevertheless, the cycling spectacle was tremendous.

    There were 26 racers for the Women Pro-1-2-3-4 race. Devon Gorry and Beth Newell, from NOW and Novartis for MS, took to the field along with NCNCA Premier Series leaders Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling) and Heather Van Sickle (Steven’s Bikes p/b Pactimo). Having raced in Colorado the day before, Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) was also on hand as the returning champion from 2010 and 2011.

    By the second lap the field already started to break apart as a group of twelve strong riders lead the race. Nash, Gorry, Newell, Kimberly Fong (Cycles FANATIC Factory Racing), and Flavia Oliveira (Kovarus/Wells Fargo) were amongst the leaders. Also in that group – Elle Anderson (Touchstone Climbing) after taking third in the heat at the Pacific Services CU Crit the day before.

    Flavia Oliveira leads the break and stays up front to the end
    Flavia Oliveira leads the break and stays up front to the end

    As the race progressed, the course took its toll and the lead group was pared down to three. Nash, Gorry, and Oliveira were still in the fray with two-to-go. Coming up to the bell lap, Gorry was dropped. Nash put in a couple of attacks along the backside of the course in an attempt to lose Oliveira. The Kovarus racer stayed in and brought the outcome to a two-racer sprint for the win.

    “I tried to shake her off, maybe three, four times up the hill.” said Nash, “She was strong, always on my wheel. Then I let her go ahead on the second half of the last uphill. [I] rested up a little bit on the top and then attacked on the very last section before you drop into the finish.”

    Nash and Gorry head the early break
    Nash and Gorry head the early break

    It was an extremely close finish that needed the officials to give the nod – it went to Nash for her third win in as many years at the Nevada City Classic.
    Commenting on her race strategy, Nash said, “I don’t really know who to watch. I have to watch everybody. The field [today] definitely was super strong, a lot stronger than last year. It was a tough going and it was a pretty good pace the whole time.”

    The Men Pro-1-2 race began at 5pm as the temperatures were starting to decline. A small breeze also brought some respite for those able to find cover in the shade.

    In the 61-racer field were Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro-Strava), Rand Miller (California Giant/Specialized), and Nate English (Kenda/5 Hour Energy). Team Mike’s Bikes, the ‘Berries, Marc Pro-Strava, and Kenda all had good team-representation.

    Ariel Herrmann (Metrommint Cycling) was first on an early solo break at five laps into the race. The very next lap, there was a break of six racers headed by Roman Kilun (Kenda/5 Hour Energy). A few laps later, Jesse Moore (California Giant/Specialized) was off the front. He was joined by Kilun and the pair managed to build their lead to over 10 seconds.

    Despite the field looking very haphazard, Moore and Kilun were caught. This led to the next phase of the race as Nate English got away to be joined by Stephen Leece (California Giant/Specialized). The pair were 91 seconds ahead just after the halfway point of the race. With just under 30 minutes remaining, the gap was at 1’53”.

    The chase group did not appear to be in the hunt and it became clear that English and Leece were in a strong position to hold their break until the end. At five-to-go, they were almost two and one-half minutes ahead of the lead chasers.

    “Once we pegged it for the first two laps I was out there with Nate and we got a gap,” described Leece, “I had a good feeling we were going to stay away on this course. The heat wasn’t that bad for me. It was nice having a feed zone every lap; I was able to spray myself down every single lap.”

    Stephen Leece adds his name to a grand list of winners

    Stephen Leece adds his name to a grand list of winners

    On the last lap, Leece and English caught a trailing group of racers where Leece had some support. On the fast, downhill sprint, Chris Stastny set up and helped his teammate Stephen Leece to take the win ahead of Nate English.

    “On the last lap we caught the group and I moved right up to the front,” continued Leece, “[I] got behind a team mate and we pegged it going over the climb. Coming out of the last bend, I felt good and opened up my sprint. [I] went a little early but it was perfect because this sprint is fast. I’m definitely happy to have won this race. There’s a lot of big names in the history of this race and it feels good to be added to that list.

    Chuck Hutcheson came on to get third place. James Oram (Bontrager-Livestrong) was fourth while Kirk Carlsen (Full Circle Cycling) finished in the fifth spot.

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    "Quod nomen mihi est?" Cranking the glass to capture photographs at bicycle races.