Situated between the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the endless high deserts of Nevada to the west, is Minden, Nevada, and Woodfords, California; the host towns for the trans-state cycling affair, the Little City Stage Race. Racing took place over 2 days, alternating the men and women in a 10 mile, out-and-back, gradually-down-then-up, time trial. The race moved north to Minden for an afternoon criterium around a grassy park replete with a big white wooden gazebo in the middle. From the gazebo, the race’s impressive haul of primes, prizes, and leader’s jersey were dispensed, along with ice chests filled with free soda and beer for racers. The final stage on Sunday, was a repeated 11 mile loop with two stinging power climbs, heat, and crosswinds.
A SRAM neutral service car followed the race, and the neutral feedzone was loaded with volunteers forking out vast numbers of bidons and hosing down riders. The race was promoted and officiated by NorCal legends Robert Leibold, Velopromo Rick, and Bubba Melcher, who was a picture of an epic Nevadan; wearing a cream-colored 10 gallon hat and bellowing out directions and encouragement to the riders.
Women P/1/2 Ellen Sherrill (Metromint) took her first stage race victory over a small women’s field at Little City. Sherrill, well known for her cyclocross prowess, dominated the opening criterium, but was edged out for the victory by 16 year old Aliya Traficante (Chico Corsa.) As a Cat 3 Traficante was picked separately, giving Sherrill the P/1/2 win, and maximum points towards the race omnium.
Sherrill surprised herself with the fastest time in the TT, and her performance set her up for the overall win barring any mistakes. In the closing road race Sherrill rode away from the field with Cat 3 Tanya Fredricks (Thirsty Bear), and Erica Greif (Pinnacle-Argon 18.) Fredricks jumped away for the race win, and Sherrill out-kicked Greif for her third P/1/2 stage win. “Because of my historically rotten time trial abilities, I was never able to win a stage race as a Cat 4 or 3,” wrote Sherrill to NCCN. ”I was certain that the possibility had evaporated forever when I moved to P/1/2, so claiming the GC win at Little City is incredible! Lesson learned, sign up for a stage race the weekend of the Cascade Classic every year!”
Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro – Strava.) rode a strong time trial and then won the crit with the help of his teammates Nate Freed and Chuck Hutcheson. “I bridged up to a breakaway that my teammate Nate Freed had initiated,” said Harland-Dunaway. “Josh Carling wasn’t there so we rode eyeballs-out for almost half an hour.”
With a small lead in the GC, Harland-Dunaway spent the early part of the road race covering attacks by his challengers. With temperatures climbing into triple digits and heavy winds sapping the pelotons energy, Marc-Pro captain Hutcheson rode off with Brandon Trafton (Mike’s Bikes) and Pete Morris (Clif Bar), enabling Harland-Dunaway a chance to relax and enjoy his first stage race victory.
“In the road race Chuck taught me how to defend the overall lead properly, following whichever rival was nearest the front,” said Harland Dunaway who appreciated the firm hand and humor that his captain provided. ”He said he would punch me in the stomach if he caught me out of position. You really need firm mentorship in situations like that. It’s sort of like asking, ‘Do you want to win this bike race or not?’ Of course the answer is ‘Yes’, so you need to do everything you can to control things in your favor. The breakaway Chuck got into in the road race allowed me to relax and just follow moves in the bunch.”
Chris Harland-Dunaway contributed to this report.
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