Leesville Gap Road Race
Williams – 30 June 2012
Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro-Strava) found an opportunity for redress to extract a win in Men Pro-1-2 at the Leesville Gap Road Race as Nicole Justice (Steven’s Bikes p/b Pactimo) was the blue ribbon for Women 1-2-3.
Hutcheson noted “When I saw that Rand Miller won in 2007, I knew I had hope.” However, the Leesville Gap Road Race exacts more than an historical race result can disclose. Often at a Velo Promo event there is an expectation of “Paris-Roubaix” road surfaces, such as at Copperopolis. However, the roads at Leesville go further along the scale. Unfilled pot holes, over-filled pot holes, wash-board roads, and profiles that resemble the high-centered tracks, worn by decades of horse-carts, are just part of the rough course with shades of cyclocross. Flats were common and many racers had their efforts scuppered before even the first hill- a 6.3Km, 305m climb in the first third of a 103Km race.
Hutcheson’s tact did well to accommodate the difficult racing surface. “[I] attacked from the gun and they just let me go,” said Hutcheson, “I wanted to get away before the first climb…[to] get through and choose my own line.” Two of Hutcheson’s team mates were less fortunate and fell victim early to the course. Meanwhile, Hutcheson was able to take the first climb “at my own pace”, leaving the Marc Pro-Strava racer feeling in good shape after he was caught midway through the race.
One of the racers to reach Hutcheson was Adam Switters (XO Communications p/b CISCO); almost 3 weeks earlier, Hutcheson, believing he could have accomplished more, had to settle for second place behind Switters at the Folsom Cyclebration Circuit Race. Now Hutcheson had a motive for retribution. With help from team mate Kris Lunning and Ariel Herrmann (Metromint Cycling), Hutcheson managed to bide his time in the lead group that stayed away from a chasing pack. “Once we got to 1K we increased our gap again,” continued Hutcheson, “we started doing the cat and mouse. Ariel got a gap. All I had to do was close it and go by at speed.”
Hutcheson achieved his recompense to win as Switters took second. Herrmann was able to celebrate crossing the line for his third place finish. Kevin Metcalfe (Team Specialized Racing Masters) grabbed fourth place whilst Dana Williams (Team Mike’s Bikes) was the fifth place finisher.
The race for Women 1-2-3 was another success for Steven’s Bikes presented by Pactimo as Justice took the win just ahead of Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling). Justice credited her team mate Heather Van Sickle who “attacked two times at the end in the last 10K,” commented Justice, “which allowed me to sit back a little bit. Molly (Van Houweling) [is] such a good time trialist; I tried to sit on her wheel but we alternated turns at the end and it was all down to a sprint at 200m.” The margin of victory for Justice was one bike-length.
Justice and Van Sickle were in a lead group of three on the climb. “I’m not the best descender,” continued Justice, “It was sketchy with all the pot holes and Molly [Van Houweling] caught up to us. Luckily the road calmed down and flattened out a bit. I was feeling strong. The beginning was crazy; I’ve never raced on such bad road so it was nice it [became] normal at the end.”
Van Sickle secured a strong third place finish. The Touchstone Climbing pair of Heather Nielson and Elle Anderson finished in fourth and fifth, respectively.
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