Men’s P/1/2 Coverage by Chris Harland-Dunaway
No rider takes Nevada City Classic lightly. Each one brings their finely tuned race machine to the starting line prepared to race as hard as they physically can in a bid to win one of California’s oldest races. Nevada City Classic is not only one of the oldest races in California, but in the United States, having started in 1960 thanks to Charlie Allert who was a passionate Sierra cyclist and local printshop owner.
In years past, the race structure most often revolved around a strong breakaway that powered away to the finish with strong men from the field bridging up. Expectations for the how the race would unfold were thrown out the window this past Sunday.
The race began stringing out from the gun – a breakaway formed after 3 laps which contained Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro – Strava), Roman Kilun (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase), Chris Stastny (Hagens Berman), Rob Evans (Bear Development Mentor), and Menso De Jong (Clif). Each lap, the field continued charging up the winding ascent through the immediate periphery of downtown Nevada City, but reigned in their efforts on the descent. This pattern left the breakaway out front for a number of laps. There was no doubt that the peloton looked to Stephen Leece (Cal Giant), to try to bring it back. Leece attacked several times and Jared Kessler (Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s) worked hard on the front to try to regain ground on the breakaway. Kessler labored for a few laps on the front, his face in a twisted effort with mutton chop sideburns reminiscent of Nevada City in the 1980’s.
An attack by Logan Loader (CashCall Mortgage) broke the peloton into the a large group of only the strongest and most well-positioned riders.
During a lull in action beneath the famous water-dowsing hose at the top of the climb, Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro – Strava) and Shawn Rosenthal (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) put in a big dig to get away and bridge to the break. They were successful and began working for their respective teammates in the group. Two laps later, the breakaway was reabsorbed suddenly.
Leece attacked twice during this period but no one would allow the defending champion to slip away. The group remained together with a lionshare of the riders on the outer limits of their climbing abilities.
The race was more than an hour underway when Jon Hornbeck (Hagens Berman) spirited away from the peloton, powering his slight frame up the climb and attaining a convincing gap. Benkoski (Clif Bar) launched a solo bid to join Hornbeck, but it was impossible to keep the wheel of the small rider in the blue, black, and white of Hagens Berman.
The laps ticked away one by one. 6-to-go. 5-to-go. 4-to-go. Still, the peloton was all together pushing extremely hard up the climb, chasing the 15 second gap that Hornbeck held together by the skin of his teeth.
With 2 laps remaining, time was running out for Stephen Leece – he threw down a massive acceleration and jumped clear with Roman Kilun, who had ridden in the breakaway for most of the race. The peloton shattered behind them in the scramble to respond to the race defining moment. Leece and Kilun rode through the 15 seconds separating them and Hombeck, joining him for a last lap battle for glory.
Heading up the climb through the first two turns, the three were together until they neared the top. Leece unleashed an all-out move that gave him a big gap quickly – he churned the pedals through the descent, looked back, and saw that the race was his.
Leece posted his victory salute far before the finish and rode in unchallenged, winning his second Nevada City Classic in a row.
Women’s P/1/2/3 Coverage by Alex Chiu
For the women’s P/1/2/3 field, it was anybody’s game.
In the past, it was Katerina Nash of the Luna Pro Team that had won the race not once, not twice, but three times in a row, and before that placing a very respectable third place at her first time doing it. However, with Nash not present, the #1 spot was open. Women who had raced this course in previous years were present, including Amy Thornquist (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18, 3rd last year), Amy Chandos (Folsom/Cervelo, 9th last year), Kim Fong (Cycles Fanatic, 16th last year) and Emily Kachorek (Vanderkitten Racing, 2nd 2011), Susannah Breen (Folsom Bike/Cervelo, 3rd 2011).
It would be Kachorek’s teammate, Elle Anderson, though, that would take the ‘W’. In taking one of the primes with 10 to go, “I heard the bell for the prime, and I went through the corner at the beginning of the climb, had a little bit of a gap going into the climb… used that gap to get the prime, and after the prime I decided to keep going!”. She maintained a sizeable gap for the rest of the countdown laps to the very end, placing first with Joanna Dahl (Metromint Cycling) and Cristina Hughes (Hub Coffee Roasters p/b Tahoe Carson Radiology) taking second and third, respectively.
Full results can be found on USA Cycling.
Powered by Facebook Comments