Not much further down the freeway from the previous day’s Winters Road Race, the Vacaville Gran Prix is a rather complex course. From the start, racers make several sharp turns before heading out on a long straightaway before turning right onto the main climb. The hill is of steady grade, but short in distance. Once racers complete the fast descent, they make a tight right hand turn where the road dips down, and then rises up only to make another right hander onto a straightaway to the finish with a slight chicane before the line and completing the 1.1 mile loop.
Women’s P/1/2 coverage by Alex Chiu
Consisting of a large percentage of racers who had competed the day before at Winters, the women’s P/1/2 field was kept in check during the opening laps. With numerous attacks from various riders, the peloton as an organic unit would have none of it, and quickly shut them all down. Of note was Metromint’s Eileen Mazzochette, who for nearly every lap for the first half of the race could be seen with a 10 second gap ahead of the field for each time up the hill. Having raced early this season as well as attending collegiate nationals, Mazzochette held this steady gap until she was eventually caught by the field.
The one break that had promise was one by Ellen Sherrill of Metromint Cycling as a break of four. Attacking up the climb to catch the break, Sara Clafferty (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18) would also bring along Metromint’s Katie Hall to bring the total number to 6. While the break had momentum, the field eventually caught the group several laps later. Other attacks were initiated on an individual basis by Metromint’s Sherrell and Amanda Siegle.
On the final lap, Mary Maroon could be seen charging hard during an attack up the hill to gain a small gap. In the final straightaway, Hall and Clafferty bridged up to Maroon, who had already sat up on the impression that she had won. Unfortunately, Maroon would be overtaken in the final meters to the line by a fiercely sprinting Clafferty and Hall to take third place. With three straight victories (San Ardo, Winters, and Vacaville), Clafferty should now be in charge of the Cal Cup standings, moving ahead of Jane Despas (Leopard-Sapporo).
Men’s P/1/2 coverage by Chris Harland-Dunaway
The very first break of the day was formed out of three riders, Roman Kilun (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase), David Grundman (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), and Nate Freed (Marc Pro – Strava). The break stayed off of the front for 4 laps before being reabsorbed in advance of another round of attacks.
Twenty minutes into the race, an unusually conservative Brandon Trafton (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase), attacked and went solo off of the front. Shortly after, Justin Rossi (Marc Pro – Strava) broke free as well and bridged up to Trafton. The two riders from rival teams worked cohesively for quite a while.
Later on, Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro – Strava) and Adam Switters (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) bridged up to the duo off of the front. Jeannes Thibault (Hennebont Cyclisme) bridged up to the breakaway with Rob Scheffler (Fremont Bank), to complete the main breakaway of the day.
A savage attack over the climb by Roman Kilun initiated what would become the 2nd breakaway of the day, containing Kilun, Keith Hillier (Marc Pro – Strava), Max Jenkins (5 Hour Energy p/ Kenda Pro Cycling), Luciano Sponza (HDR Lombardi p/b VuMedi), and Logan Loader (Cashcall Mortgage Cycling). Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), hit out from a small 3 man chase and joined the 2nd breakaway alone.
The race settled into this structure until the closing laps. A hard pull by Chuck Hutcheson formed a small gap in the front breakaway, Trafton pulled through afterwards with Justin Rossi on his wheel and the two escaped together. With a lap and a half remaining, Trafton attacked. Rossi chased only 3 seconds behind, planning to let him dangle before coming over the top and trying to win the race. It was clear Trafton realized this and waited. Rossi launched a final bid for the win leading into the U-turn on the back of the course and was making headway before Trafton regained contact at the hill.
After the final descent and two corners, the two drag raced for the line. Trafton had an excellent jump and started with a lead. As the two came nearer and nearer to the line, Rossi had begun to make up ground and was almost alongside. Trafton held on to lead past the line and stretched his arms wide in triumph, having patiently maintained his winning form through many August races in which he had narrowly missed victory.
In the sprint for 3rd, Adam Switters took 3rd, taking a firm command of the Cal Cup standings ahead of Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro – Strava), who was unsuccessful in bridging up to one of the day’s breakaways after many attempts.
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