• Weekend Update: Madera Stage Race Daulton Road Race

    by  • March 11, 2014 • norcal scene, race coverage

    Photos courtesy Alex Chiu Photography.

    Results (when available) at USA Cycling.

    The Daulton road race, which was near Friday’s Ben Hur hill climb, could be compared similarly to Snelling and Merco’s courses. With a relatively long promenade out from the start, riders ride on mostly flat roads initially until they are faced with a nearly 2 mile stretch of battered, cobbled, and torturous road. Driving around the course several times during the day, I often saw many water bottles that had fallen out of bottle cages strewn about on this stretch. Once everybody’s spines were thoroughly jostled (and my car’s suspension given a workout), there were several short and pitchy rollers leading to the finish up the last climb before several more miles of lesser rollers completing the loop.

    With everyone having lost an hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings Time, an early start time for the men’s P/1/2 field added more difficulty to the day. Once the race was under way, Owen Gillott of Hagens Berman U23 describes how it went down:

    Going into the race I felt really confident coming off my win in the crit the day before, and that my team mates Adrian Costa and Zeke Mostov were in 1st and 2nd on GC. Adrian had nearly 2 and a half minutes over third place and Zeke had nice 15 second buffer as well.

    Our plan was very simple –  have either myself or Jordan Cullen in every attack that went up the road. This allowed Zeke to protect Adrien and for both of them to rest whilst we did the bulk of the work. Unfortunately Jordan flatted on the first lap and with no follow vehicle he was forced to stop with no spares. However I managed to get in a 9 man break away on the first lap, I did my best to control it but the time gap kept getting bigger and bigger. The break lasted for 3 laps and was amazingly brought back by Zeke in his usual time trial fashion. The pack stayed together besides the minor attacks trying to get off the front, without Jordan all I had to do was keep the race in check and get my two team leaders safely to the finish line. Again we were struck with bad luck, so with a lap and a half to go I too got a puncture and was forced to pull out early. This left our team’s two GC guys Adrian and Zeke to ride the race alone.

    With Owen out, teammate (and GC leader) Adrien Costa picks up with the action:

    …Quite unluckily, we lost Jordan’s valuable prowess to a flat on the bumpy, “Roubaix” sector of the course. With only two of us left in the pack, Zeke and I stayed calm, but had to exchange a series of attacks, pulls, and sneaky moves to revive the chase and conserve our 1-2 on GC. After a good 35km of this, we were able to bring back the group, and refocus our energies on covering. At this point, Owen flatted out, making us lose another valuable asset. A few attacks ensued, notably from Colin Berry(California Giant/Specialized) and Jonathan Teeter (Marc-Pro/Strava), who were in 3rd and 4th overall respectively, placing the majority of the responsibility on us. At this point, I put in a few long, 5+ km pulls on the front, comfortable with my buffer on GC and not wanting to sacrifice Zeke’s second, which would be followed up immediately by a counter from Zeke, which helped tremendously in keeping the pace high. As the race came through the bumpy section on the last lap, the group was whittled down but still compact, and with GC looking unlikely to change, Zeke and I began to do what we do best –  race forward. Zeke managed to slip away with two other riders, staying off until the finish, where he would finish 2nd in a drag race up the infamous Daulton rollers. Back in the pack, I did my best to keep things controlled and covered, and after launching my sprint way too early, got swarmed and finished mid pack. Despite losing two teammates, we had managed to not only keep things under control, but race forward at the end and still finish second!

    Afterwards, when asked what was the most challenging part of the road race, Costa replied “Although people say the bumpy section is hard, and the rollers too, for us it was just keeping the race together after losing two guys that was most difficult above all”.

    For the women’s P/1/2/3 race, Sara Headley (TIBCO/To The Top) tells how it played out:

    Going into the Dalton Road Race, the women’s peloton was ready for a battle in the gravel. Our team plan was ambitious and we knew the gravel would be where most successful attacks would happen. Tetrick led through the first time, keeping a nice, safe pace. Everyone stayed together through the rollers and then things started getting interesting. Fresh off her win in the crit, TIBCO’s Holly Matthews attacked and Pinnacle’s Emily Mathews followed her. They worked the break together for 30 miles, gaining a solid 1:45 gap at one point. There were several attempts from other teams to bridge but nothing stuck. The 3rd time through the gravel, Tetrick attacked but the peloton followed in hot pursuit. Dahl bridged to the break after the rollers. Then a few more attacks from the field finally absorbed the break just before the gravel section. Unfortunate mechanicals and flats left only 16 riders for the final stretch. Most significantly, my Swiss teammate, Patricia Schwager, got the dreaded slow leak, causing her to stop for a wheel change. That left me riding defensively for the stage win. Pinnacle aggressively attacked. Tetrick launched a couple in a row and I had no choice but to defend my GC and try to chase everything. My teammates had saved me for the end so I was hopeful for a stage win. After covering vicious attacks for several miles, I spent my final match attacking the field going into the last two rollers. It didn’t work and instead I led out the whole field to the line. I have to give major kudos to speedy Shoshauna Laxson for pulling off the sprint at the end. Also, Pinnacle raced a tactically smart race, using their numbers to the their advantage to take over 2nd in GC with Jane’s 3rd place finish in the road race. Tetrick ended up taking the GC, Despas 2nd, me 3rd, and the 2 Minties taking 4th and 5th overall. Thanks to everyone who came out to race hard. It was a solid weekend in the good ‘ole Central Valley.

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    About

    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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