In the media world around NorCal, we have been reminded of the incredible services that Tim Westmore and Alex Chiu provide through their photography. They document the unfolding race situations of our local races and offer a glimpse into the race reports that scrawl the pages and forums of the internet. Unfortunately, neither of the pros were at Leesville Gap road race this past saturday, and after plumbing the Colusa County media photographers that were seen on the course, there was still nothing – no pictures for one of NorCal’s infamous classics. However, if, while you read this, you have photographs of the race, send some our way and we would be delighted to publish them. Before this report, the only account of the race and only photo was a story regurgitated by the tortured but hilarious mind of Chuck Hutcheson of Marc Pro – Strava.
If there is a NorCal race that was designed for powerful riders, Leesville is the one. With miles and miles of “California cobble” that grace the backroads of the mountain ranges that flank the Central Valley, it takes two strong legs to survive the opening rollers of the race and make it over the 3 mile climb. Marley Smith of Folsom Bike p/b Cervelo, along with teammate Fiona Strouts and omnipresent NorCal women’s professional rider, Ali Tetrick of Exergy, made the pace fast across the first sections of rough road. At the base of the climb, Smith set the pace, followed by Tetrick and the young Metromint phenom, Katie Hall. Tetrick and Smith traded work, growing increasingly weary of Hall sitting-on behind.
Smith hatched a plan to attack solo and wait for Tetrick to find a way to bridge up.
The plot worked, leaving Tetrick and Smith to trade pulls all the way to the finish, where Tetrick won the day.
A lamentable absence of Mike’s Bikes riders was ameliorated by the exciting presence of three professionals. Max Jenkins and Nate English made the trip out to Williams, CA for 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda while Kirk Carlsen donned the red, black, and white of Bissell. It was Carlsen’s first race back in a professional uniform after a string of outstanding performances this season, including an impressive GC victory at Sea Otter Classic, where he defended the lead on his own.
Marc Pro – Strava was eager to put a rider or two in the early break that could have a chance of making it over the race’s signature climb ahead of the strongest climbers in the race. Nate English and Max Jenkins were intent on preventing any early escapes and kept the peloton in groupo compacto, with the exception of the riders shelled out of the back on the early stages of the rough road.
A series of attacks as the climb loomed closer left the riders on the front with tired legs, at that moment, Nate English surged out of the pack and slipped away. The climb arrived shortly after and Jonathan Teeter of Marc Pro – Strava forced a selection of 3 riders alongside himself: Kirk Carlsen, Matt Rodrigues of Davis Bike Club, and Chris Harland-Dunaway of Marc Pro – Strava.
Harland-Dunaway flatted on the descent, leaving the remainders of the selection to forge ahead. They eventually joined up with Nate English, ending his solo bid for a Leesville crown, but not his chances to win from the small bunch.
Behind, a group of roughly 8 riders from different teams chased after the breakaway. The group descended Grapevine Pass and made quick progress towards the finish in Williams when they finally caught sight of the breakaway.
Meanwhile, the breakaway began to test each other with the race’s final attacks. Matt Rodrigues launched clear, and the break looked at each other. Rodrigues had his chance, and began to drive for the finish.
Keith Hillier, of Marc Pro – Strava, attacked from the pursuing group of 8 and snuck up behind the lead break. He attempted to attack before they realized he had joined them, but was unsuccessful in getting away alone. Up the road, it was clear that all chances of catching Matt Rodrigues had been lost. It is the first P/1/2 victory for the under-the-radar talent from Davis Bike Club.
Hillier lead out the sprint behind, dropping off Jonathan Teeter in 2nd. Kirk Carlsen finished in 3rd.
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