• Big Names and Big Competition at Fourth of July Criterium

    by  • July 6, 2013 • race coverage

    At the 37th Annual Fourth of July Davis Criterium, there was a lot to look forward to for this event in one of the most bike friendly cities in California as well as home to the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame. Compared to other local criteriums, Davis would have a more “premium” feel, with a fully constructed shaded stage, metal framework for the finishing arch, family-friendly festivities (face painting, cotton candy, and an open dining area within a stone’s throw from the finish line), and most importantly for the racers, a big prize purse. One noteworthy fact being that there was an equal prize purse for both the men’s P/1/2 as well as the women’s P/1/2/3 fields would attract many athletes especially for the latter field.

    Snowcones and cotton candy offered in addition to a dining venue with a well shaded patio offered plenty of refreshment for spectators.

    Snowcones and cotton candy offered in addition to a dining venue with a well shaded patio offered plenty of refreshment for spectators.

    In addition to names such as Martina Patella (winner of last week’s Lodi Cyclefest), local talent Mary Mary Maroon (Steven’s Bicycles Racing), local teams Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 and Metromint (including former world TT champion Molly Van Houweling), the field also saw 2013 District TT Champion Alison Tetrick of Exergy TWENTY16 (also a local from Mill Valley) as well as several team members from NOW/Novartis, which included 2013 Irish National Champion Olivia Dillon, team captain and former U.S. National Road Race Champion Robin Farina, and 2013 Pan Am Scratch Champion Beth Newell.

    Beth Newell (NOW/Novartis) and Molly Van Houweling (Metromint) greet each other during call ups for the women's P/1/2/3 field.

    Beth Newell (NOW/Novartis) and Molly Van Houweling (Metromint) greet each other during call ups for the women’s P/1/2/3 field.

    Despite initial flyers by the Metromint team, the field was quickly dominated by the NOW/Novartis team. With Dillon controlling the front, Farina was able to maintain a steady gap of just a few seconds ahead of everybody else. Several attempts by fearless riders such as Van Houweling, Amy Chandos (Folsom Bike/Cervelo), and a member from the Pinnacle team were made to try to bridge up to the road race champion, but Farina would be able to hold them off to the very end. The battle to fill out the rest of the podium would be fought for in a battle between Maroon, Dillon, and Patella, with a bike throw by Maroon granting her second place, followed by Dillon, Patella, and Chandos.

    Olivia Dillon (NOW/Novartis) controls the front during a lap of the women's P/1/2/3 field with teammate Farina off the front.

    Olivia Dillon (NOW/Novartis) controls the front during a lap of the women’s P/1/2/3 field with teammate Farina off the front.

    Upon interviewing Farina and Dillon following the conclusion of the women’s P/1/2/3 race, Farina described how the race played out in that they had planned to make it hard and aggressive without killing themselves in the heat, as they did not have a pure sprinter present. With 10 to go she had come to the conclusion that none of the early attacks stuck and that her team’s attacks had softened up the field a bit.  “NorCal scene is a very strong… has a very strong contingency of riders … In the end strength in numbers and good attacks really put the hurt on the field and allowed me to jump away with 3 to go”, the team captain recalls.  Dillon commented on the course’s speed in relation to its layout:  “It was a really good race. The other teams were responding to our attacks, was pretty fluid, really fast, was a really nice course. It flows really well, so it kept it fast.”

    Listen to the interview with Robin Farina and Olivia Dillon of NOW/Novartis on the race, teamwork, and what lies ahead for their team on SoundCloud.

    The men’s P/1/2 saw similar big names at the starting line. Among regional teams Marc-Pro/Strava and Mike’s Bikes as well as local teams from Davis Bike Club and Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada, there were appearances by none other than USA Cycling Professional Road National Championship winner Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly Cycling), Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Jamis Hagens Berman), and teammates Max Jenkins and Nate English of 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda Pro Cycling.

    Nate Theobald (Bicycles Plus/Safeway), Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava), and Brandon Trafton (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) attacked the field on separate occasions early on in the race, with Trafton working hard at the front of the pack after the initial attacks were caught. With Adam Ross (Fremont Bank Cycling) attacking out of the first turn, Andres Gil (Michael David Winery) would attack as well to get ahead of the pack. This would set off a chain reaction of multiple riders would put in big attacks to ward off the threat of not being a part of what could have been one of the decisive moves of the race. Hutcheson would pull off one of his familiar monster attacks, and would bring along Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), Rob Evans (Bear Development Team) and AJ Kennedy (VuMedi p/b Lombardi Sports) with him in a break that would be eventually caught by the peloton several laps later, at which point Carling launched an attack entering into the single digits remaining before the conclusion of the race.

    Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava) looks back to find Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), AJ Kennedy (VuMedi p/b Lombardi sports), and Rob Evans (Bear Development Team) in tow during the men's P/1/2 race.

    Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava) looks back to find Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), AJ Kennedy (VuMedi p/b Lombardi sports), and Rob Evans (Bear Development Team) in tow during the men’s P/1/2 race.

    With pro cyclists Jacques-Maynes and English, the two would work with Hutcheson to catch Carling as well as pass him with Evans, Kennedy in tow with the addition of David Grundman (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada) as well as Chris Baker (Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s). Within that break and a time period of one short lap, English and Baker were seen the very next lap with a sizable gap off of the raging peloton chasing behind them. Although teams Marc-Pro/Strava, Mike’s Bikes, and individual riders like Himley, Evans, and Gil tried to catch the two, Nate English would cross the finish line in an uncontested win with Baker second. Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase teammates Adam Switters and Dana Williams, as well as Hutcheson would face off in a bunch sprint with Jacques-Maynes, Carling, and the rest of the charging field close behind.

    Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada) puts in an attack that would lead to the final selection in the men's P/1/2 field.

    Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada) puts in an attack that would lead to the final selection in the men’s P/1/2 field.

    Upon interviewing English about the race, he recalled how the gap between the break (which consisted of him, Ben Jacques-Maynes, and several other teams) had gone down at 6 to go versus earlier on in the race. As others saw the field was going to catch, they sat up to be caught, so English was mainly alone. Having raced the Fourth of July Davis Criterium previously, he commented that while the course change may not have introduced anything new, it was enjoyable to have something different. Finally on the race in general: “I think it’s great… it’s one that’s on the fourth of July, Davis is awesome bike town, race gets a lot of support. A lot of people really like it and definitely all the local racers like to come out and do this race. It’s one of the ones that is a little more fun to win because it has more value to the local cycling community…I think to most of the bikers around here it’s… one of the top 10 NorCal races”.

    Listen to the interview with Nate English about the race, its appeal, his team/sponsors, and what lies ahead for the professional cyclist (who also coaches) on Soundcloud.

    More coverage of the Fourth of July Davis Criterium, including the men’s 35+ 1/2/3 and 45/55+ 1/2/3 fields can be found on NCNCA Road.

    Full results from the Fourth of July Davis Criterium can be found on USA Cycling.

    Photo coverage from the entire day (including all of the competing fields, podiums, and other shots depicting scenes unique to Davis) can be viewed and purchased at Alex Chiu’s SmugMug site.

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    Alex Chiu is a local photographer in the NorCal cycling scene. After dabbling a bit in racing (and not doing very good at it), he decided to pick up a camera and take pictures at the races to still be a part of the action. Chances are if the race is within a 2 hour driving window from Sacramento, you'll find him somewhere along the course. You may find his photos at http://acaurora.smugmug.com

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