Mike’s Bikes Cat’s Hill Classic Criterium
5 May 2013
Only two people went postman up Cat’s Hill at yesterday’s race. One was an actual letter carrier delivering on a Saturday, while that lasts. The other was the heckler chasing down racers off the back. Having a Cat in the Hat costumed spectator keeping pace and screaming at bicycle-racers was an embodiment of the jovial atmosphere on the hill.
Another reflection of the boisterous and supportive Cat’s Hill crowd was the loud cheers for 1/2/3 Women racers off the back – louder at times than for the leaders.
Amore E Vita
At the sharp end of the racing, a Vanderkitten was once again victorious at the Cat’s. Kate Chilcott attacked on the hill and held fast to win ahead of the charging Mary Maroon (SBRacing).
Daniel Holloway (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) took an outstanding solo break to victory in one of his last races for the team; Holloway announced after winning that he will change teams beginning in June.
“I wanted to say thank you to Mike’s Bikes and the team,” said Holloway. “No better time than now to announce that I will be riding for Amore E Vita come June 1. I thank the team, Matt Adams, Steve Pelaez, Hank Scholz, and the rest of the guys for giving the opportunity to get to really good races. [I was able to] show directors and teams I never fell off the map and I’m here to race my bike.”
A Lap Too Soon
The 1/2/3 Women’s race began shortly after the wind started to pick up. It came in from front-right along the start-finish straightaway and swirled around at the top of Cat’s Hill.
As riders began to drop off the back of the field, Cat’s Hill taking its toll, Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten) broke away solo. She stayed out front for several laps and looked strong climbing the hill.
The field eventually brought Winder back and then the race settled.
Metromint Cycling were well represented amongst the leaders with Lisa Mueller, Rikke Preisler, Laurie Furman, and Julie Bellrose. Vanderkiten racers Chilcott and Winder were there too.
At two-to-go, Fiona Strouts (Folsom Bike/Cervelo) put in a charge crossing the start/finish line with Chilcott in close pursuit. Maroon led the chasing field.
Crossing the finish line for the bell lap, Strouts was well out in front but then slowed and raised her arm. The moto-ref alerted Strouts to the remaining lap but Chilcott and Maroon were already closing fast.
Strouts was caught just before Cat’s Hill. Chilcott attacked going up and rounded the final turn ahead of Maroon. The push to the finish line saw a gritty effort by Maroon but Chilcott was strong enough for the win.
The misfortunate Strouts crossed in third. Martina Patella led the field to a fourth place finish whilst Winder came home in fifth.
“The wind on the start/finish line was really strong,” described Chilcott. “People would attack on the start/finish line but just give up because of the wind. The hill and the tailwind section was definitely the main part of the race. The hill was sheltered but it should have been a cross wind.
“The strategy was to be pretty active and see what other teams were doing. No-one else was being active, [instead] just sitting around waiting for us. We gave a few digs and Ruth [Winder] was awesome off the front for so many laps by herself.
“Mary Maroon was sitting on me for about 2 laps. I attacked at the last climb and tried to hold it to the finish. I knew she was going to be strong on the downhill and in the headwind but I had an advantage on the hill. So I gave it everything and it stuck.
“Jazzy Hurikino won here last year so we just wanted to have a repeat. Jazzy’s back in Australia studying so it was cool to take the win for her.”
A Solo to Remember
By the time the Pro/1/2 Men’s race was underway, the wind was stronger. Dust, leaves, and other detrius visibly swirled around Cat’s Hill.
It took a few laps until the start of any attacks. Jack Maddux (Team Specialized Racing Juniors) was one of the first followed shortly by the trio of Nicolas Dougall, Matt Abdalah (SquadraSF), and Jonathan Teeter (Marc Pro-Strava).
None of those early attacks stuck but, with over 30 minutes remaining in the 75-minute race, Daniel Holloway attacked to get away on a solo break. It was early but this was a Mike’s Bikes sponsored event and the team were well represented in the race.
In short order, Holloway’s lead passed the 30-second mark whilst no overt actions came from the field. Very soon, Holloway was racing through the first turn before any other person raced out of the final turn – it is close to 400 meters between the two corners.
With the gap at 44 seconds to the peloton, Tobin Ortenblad (Bear Development Team) was between the two in an attempt to bridge to Holloway.
“I knew Holloway was getting a pretty good gap,” remarked Ortenbald, “and Mike’s Bikes were just sitting on the front. I knew they weren’t going to make an effort to go up there.
“I figured if I went and nobody chased then there was a good chance I could keep a good gap for a while. Eventually I could feel myself starting to fade. With five or six to go the group was close and I tried to punch it one more time. But, I had to sit in and try to get a result.
“I would make those right turns [on the last corner] and look up the long straightaway with the headwind and [Holloway] was just gone. I was hoping I would be gone from the group too and discourage them but they were coming hard.”
Ortenblad took a fine eighth place.
Holloway maintained his lead above 30-seconds and the knowledgable finish line crowd’s excitement grew each time past. Spectators were very aware it was a mammoth effort from mid-way through the race and in the wind.
Coming up to the finish, Holloway had time to slap hands with spectators before raising his arms in victory – 30 meters in front of the line. He then pointed to the team’s name on his kit in what has become a gesture of gratitude for helping his transition back to the pro peloton.
“I didn’t expect to go alone,” described Holloway, “I was hoping a couple guys would come with me. It was a really hard point in the race and a selection moment. I was in a group of four and then I just hit it really hard to see who wanted show their legs. I guess everybody was either out of position or on their limit.
“You get a gap like that you can’t sit up. I just put it in a tempo, got my rhythm, and the gap just opened up. Once it get’s to 35-45 seconds you’ve got to hold onto it.
“I just dug in [knowing] the team was going to look after me from the back. This is a Mike’s Bikes event so I had to suck it up and go a little deeper than planned.
“When I went a lot of guys were playing games and looking around. I wanted to see who would talk with their legs today. Apprently I did it at the right time.”
Holloway acknowledged he had not known of Ortenbald’s attempt to bridge. “I didn’t know what was going behind me. The Hill was really crazy and I couldn’t hear anything but yelling. I was in the zone and didn’t hear anything else.
“[The wind] was brutal when you’re by yourself. The home finish up to corner one you lost a lot of momentum right at the last 50 meters. You’re going 42-43K an hour and all of a sudden at some points I was 10K an hour. It was hard to keep the rhythm through there.
“It was a tailwind into the climb which helped and a tailwind at the top of the course to help with the recovery. Coming back into this home stretch I was putting a lot of my effort to keep the speed up. Backing off there could lose the race.”
Ben Jacques-Maynes won the field sprint for second with bike-lengths to spare. Shawn Rosenthal (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) took third just ahead of Taylor Bertrand-Barrett (Marc Pro-Strava). Fifth place went to Tyler Brandt (Get Crackin’).
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