The 2013 Mt. Hamilton men’s race convened under damp, cool, and overcast conditions along the foothills east of San Jose. A motorcycle referee took the peloton through the neutral zone as racers chatted and pedaled easily, with their arm-warmers pulled up and windvests pulled tight.
Kirk Carlsen, of Predator Carbon Repair, was eager to create an early breakaway. But with the likes Tyler Brandt of Get Crackin and Sam Bassetti of Cal Giant joining the escape attempt, the move was reeled in without much hesitation.
Mist swirled around the lower reaches of the mountain climb; it condensed on the road, making for slippery conditions. Chris Harland-Dunaway, of Marc Pro – Strava, was intent on keeping the pace high to the benefit of the climber-rich squad, and on the second section of the climb, Stefano Barberi of Cal Giant traded off with the pace as well.
Adrien Costa, from Slipstream Craddock Development, attacked during a lull in the pace. Costa is perhaps NorCal’s best pure climber, the peloton chased earnestly behind him. Shortly after young Costa was reabsorbed on the 3rd and final section of the mountain climb, Kirk Carlsen attacked – the move shattered the peloton.
The front group thinned immediately to Justin Rossi, Art Rand, and Taylor Bertrand-Barrett of Marc Pro – Strava; O’Mara and Shawn Rosenthal of Mikes Bikes; and NorCal younglings Adrien Costa and Jack Maddux. Carlsen outdistanced the front group with Sam Bassetti, who has clearly been working on bettering his climbing abilities to back up an already monsterous sprint. Carlsen and Bassetti dueled for the KOM, with Carlsen taking the honors.
The descent of Mt. Hamilton is possibly the most poorly planned and built mountain road in the Bay Area; a handful of technical turns are very off-camber and the steepness of the downhills frequently tempts riders to overload the turns with speed. Crashes occur with regularity and there are cases where riders have ridden off of the road. In 2012, Shawn Rosenthal of Mike’s Bikes, attacked over the top of Hamilton and consolidated a 1 minute gap by flying down the descent at break-neck speeds – Rosenthal was caught with 5k remaining in the race that year.
Again, in 2013, the descent shook the front end of the race. Bassetti, Carlsen, Costa, and Rosenthal made up the lead group, with Rossi and Rand of Marc Pro – Strava and Jack Maddux 30 seconds behind them. The race looked as though it would retain the same structure until the finish.
With 12 miles to go, Rossi and Rand made contact with the lead group. Numerous attacks ensued all the way to the final descent down Mines Rd. Costa attacked with 1km remaining and Rosenthal partially covered the attack but left Carlsen to do the final reeling-in. Rossi attacked immediately after, and with 500 left Carlsen made his drive for the finish with Rosenthal behind. With 250 remaining, Rosenthal came around Carlsen and took an emphatic win. Carlsen finished 2nd and Justin Rossi came in 3rd after a grueling day working powering the small chase group.
Rosenthal shared his feelings about Mt. Hamilton Road Race:
“I’ve been doing this race since I was a Cat 4 back when downtube shifters were still in style. Every year I’ve done this race I’ve gotten closer to getting over the climb with the front group. I’ve always, always, been scared of this race. Something about going over the tallest pass in the Bay Area?”
In fact, the final sprint was something that Rosenthal had rehearsed in his head many times, as he explained, “I felt a lull and gave it a go. I have kept playing the moment in my head for years. I kept wondering if this was a lucid dream.”
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