Pescadero Coastal Classic is the emerald of NorCal road races. The 19 mile loop of the course takes riders through the small town of Pescadero where one can faintly smell the delicious artichoke bread wafting from Norm’s Market or the Country Store down the road. On the narrow tarmac of Stage Rd, the course crests two small climbs before bending eastward onto Highway 84. Eighty-four is a false flat uphill up to Alpine Rd, where the course’s biggest obstacle, Haskin’s Hill, confronts the riders with a winding ascent through the peaceful redwood forest, followed by a fast twisting descent to the hamlet of Loma Mar and onward to Pescadero again. 105 miles of racing, all told.
According to old pamphlets distributed by the Legion of American Wheelmen in the 1890’s, Pescadero has long been a favored and idyllic destination for cycling. Riders from San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland rode through the Santa Cruz mountains to reach the seaside town, where they would eat dinner and spend the night at a hotel, complimentary of their L.A.W. membership. Fittingly, this year’s men’s peloton began the race with a treaty-like procession through the green pastures of Stage Rd before Highway 84 when attacking from various teams began. Phil Mooney (Jamis – Hagens Berman Pro Cycling) and Jared Barrileaux (Cal Giant) escaped immediately.
The peloton reached Haskin’s Hill behind the duo, pouring watts into the climb and diminishing the size of the pack. After a descent that stretched and broke up the peloton, Roman Kilun (Mike’s Bikes) and Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro – Strava) attacked and bridged up to Mooney and Barrileaux. They were joined by Logan Loader (Cashcall) to complete a strong breakaway. However, the peloton was highly motivated, and with the Bear Development team working hard shifts on the front, the early breakaway was caught on the ascent up the second climb on Stage Rd.
With the peloton in “groupo compacto”, fierce attacking ensued along Highway 84 to establish a new breakaway. The series of accelerations took everyone to their limits until, with instant relief, the peloton let Roman Kilun and Taylor Bertrand-Barrett break away together. Thus, the two riders from rival teams began a tough 80 mile odyssey off the front of the race. The peloton behind was pacified as Mike’s Bikes and Marc Pro – Strava patrolled the front to ensure no threatening bridge attempts got away.
As the sun rose higher in the sky and began to burn off the grey marine layer that blanketed most of the course, this remote area of San Mateo County began to descend into chaos. The County had granted a permit to the Sequoia Century Ride, which sent hundreds of riders over Stage Rd in the opposite direction of the day’s races. In addition, a short stretch of Highway 1 had been reduced to 1 lane with a stoplight, which effectively snarled traffic on the iconic route and pushed drivers to find alternate routes north or southward along the coast; some of the cars chose to use Stage Rd. It was in this setting that the men’s race began their 4th lap of the course, and conditions intensified when the peloton began to pass one of the women’s fields on the first descent of Stage Rd. Instigated by Adrien Costa (Slipstream Development) and Tim Aiken (Bear Development), a group of 4 riders attacked through the women’s field on the descent. Shawn Rosenthal (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) and Craig Fellers (Red Peloton) followed the two young climbers who proceeded to ride the 2nd climb of Stage Rd as hard as possible. They were joined by Logan Loader who bridge up to them on the second descent on Stage Rd. By the time the peloton reached Highway 84, the 5 were out of sight.
Marc Pro – Strava chased after the 5 riders, attacked Haskin’s Hill, and descended agressively before an unprecedented NorCal event occurred: 7-8 riders from different teams began a fast rotating paceline on the front. Phil Mooney was delighted to see the cooperation, exclaiming that in all his years of racing in NorCal he had never seen anything like it; “This is awesome!”, he yelled.
The breakneck pace continued with big contributions from Kurt Wolfgang (Squadra SF), Colin Daw (Fremont Bank), Jared Barrileaux (Cal Giant), Chris Riekert (Specialized Factory Team), a rotating cast of Marc Pro – Strava riders, and Phil Mooney.
After the peloton turned onto Highway 84, they were assaulted by a driver in a large grey suburban vehicle with the license plate 4NIS319. The driver swerved towards the riders, scaring them to the very edge of the road, but thankfully, hitting no one. Chris Riekert from the Specialized Factory Team narrowly avoided being struck by one of the truck’s huge rearview mirrors. The incident greatly impacted the race dynamics by splitting what was left of the peloton into two groups.
Up ahead, the journeyman duo of Roman Kilun and Taylor Bertrand-Barrett were finally captured by the 5-man chase group containing Costa, Aiken, Rosenthal, Fellers, and Loader. They rode together until the front half of the peloton caught them as well, setting up for an epic final drag race up Haskin’s Hill to the finishline on top.
Roman Kilun worked hard for his teammate until Rosenthal let out a blood-curdling scream from a particularly nasty cramp. Zeke Mostov (Slipstream Development) took over and kept the pace at a high rate up the finale climb until 1 kilometer remained. At that moment, Adrien Costa attacked, with Art Rand of Marc Pro – Strava responding. Costa continued riding all-out until Rand cracked and lost his wheel. Phil Mooney charged after Costa, who was getting farther and farther out of reach. Tim Aiken and Logan Loader chased Art Rand who fell behind Mooney. With a huge swathe of daylight between Costa and his pursuers, he put his arms aloft and then pointed to his jersey sponsor, having won one of NorCal’s classic road races. In a late charge, Logan Loader passed Phil Mooney for 2nd, Art Rand was 4th. The finish was a fitting tribute to the hard-fought day of racing on the Peninsula; The area is important to Costa who prevailed in a highly dynamic race: “I’ve been looking forward to [Pescadero Coastal Classic] a lot because of its roads I know well and ride a lot. Its a great course that I knew I could do well on.”
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