Lodi – 15 July 2012
Mary Elizabeth Maroon (Folsom Bike/Mercedes Benz) in Women P-1-2-3 and Rand Miller (California Giant/Specialized) in Men P-1-2 both won their races, at the Lodi Cyclefest Criterium, after taking respective wins the previous day at the Watsonville Criterium.
The Lodi Cyclefest ran under sweltering temperatures but with excellent racing and prizes-galore. Racer rewards included bottles of wine from Michael David Winery along with a total purse exceeding $7,000. The course itself was a flat figure-eight, 0.8 miles in length, and a start-finish stretch along a tree-lined street. Podium girls were on hand but the underground hope of podium boys failed to materialize. On top of the Vintners Cup Race, and free races for the youngsters, the Lodi Cyclefest is one of the few events to feature Handcycling; this year, thirteen racers were on hand, including eventual winner Richard Le out of Bellevue, Washington.
The race for Women P-1-2-3 included Emily Kachorek (Primal/Map My Ride), Heather Van Sickle (Steven’s Bikes p/b Pactimo), and Amanda Seigle (Metromint Cycling). Joanna Bechtel (Metromint Cycling) was one of the early racers to get away on a solo breakaway. Emily Thurston (Touchstone Climbing) and Maroon quickly joined Bechtel, followed by the rest of the field. The middle laps saw different racers at the front but nothing was getting too far away from the pack. A serious attack then came from Seigle and Ruste Sasser as the pair managed a 10-second gap at one point. Eventually the field came together leading to a field sprint for the win.
Maroon took the sprint-win handily over Mary Ellen Ash (Steven’s Bikes p/b Pactimo) while Kachorek finished third. Marissa Axell (Touchstone Climbing) and Emily Thurston (Touchstone Climbing) finished fourth and fifth, respectively with both racers expressing sentiments that they could have done better.
“The heat was definitely a factor…I started the day with an ice pack,” reported Maroon, “It didn’t really change my tactics. I [didn’t] have any team mates today. All I can try to do is ride the front and keep an eye on people. I got lucky a couple of days in a row to do my best in the sprint.” Maroon was full of praise for the Metromint racers, saying, “Those girls have gotten better and better every year. So it’s really cool to watch them become more seasoned with their team tactics. They’re definitely a big concern. I am not going to let Amanda Seigle just go running of the front, anymore.”
Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro-Strava) and Rand Miller always appeared to work hard in the race for Man Pro-1-2 with Hutcheson in particular often close to the front of the race. Miller put in an early attack but later worked hard in the chase groups. With their latest performances in other races leading up to this event, it looked inevitable that the race would come down to a duel between Miller and Hutcheson.
As the race played out, there was a nine racer break, toward the latter stages, with the likes of Jared Kessler (Folsom Bike), Adam Switters (XO Communications p/b CISCO/Battley Harley-Davidson), David Grundman (Michael David Winery Cycling Team/Delta Velo), Joshua Carling (Michael David Winery Cycling Team/Delta Velo), and Nate Freed (Marc Pro-Strava). Even quinquagenarian Dirk Himley (Echelon/Grand Fondo) lead this group at one point. With the rest of the field splintered into chasers, chase groups, and the pack, it was Kessler putting in an attack from the front – it looked serious and Hutcheson and Miller followed with Carling joining a lap later.
Once the officials started counting down laps, the four-racer break had a lead that was very difficult to bring back in. Carling was the first to drop from the break followed by a stubborn Kessler. Miller and Hutcheson continued to work hard, eventually catching and passing the trailing field. Kessler was out on his own but in a strong third place as Miller and Hutcheson took the bell. Just 11 days beforehand, these two racers were involved in another breakaway sprint with Hutcheson taking the spoils. This time Miller became the victor with a comfortable two-bike length win.
Miller acknowledged he and Hutcheson worked hard for their race, “[Hutcheson] has been winning a lot of races recently. I could tell he was antsy. Even when he had two guys up the road in a move he was jumping around looking for a way to get across,” said Miller, “He’s always willing to do a lot of work and he makes it stick. I’ve been trying to beat him on strength for the first half of the season and I’ve just been getting beat. This time I decided take it easy let him punch to break stuff up behind and try to be there at the end.”
Kessler finished in third. Fourth went to Switters and fifth to Grundman.
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