Photos courtesy of Alex Chiu Photography.
Much like last year’s weather, in striking contrast to the year prior, the first flight of the 2014 Bariani Road Race began already nearly warm enough to forgo arm warmers, with little wind. The P/1/2 men’s rolled out first for 70 miles, five laps of a flat to gently-rolling circuit of country roads in rural Yolo County. Present again after yesterday’s showing at the Land Park Criterium was the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 5-deep squad, along with a mix of oft-seen local firepower. Joining the men in preparation for an upcoming tour to Europe was Specialized-Lululemon’s Evelyn Stevens, looking for a good day of competitive training.
Halfway into an agressive first lap, five riders of varied representation created a break. The group worked well together, and expanded their gap to 3-plus minutes by the beginning of the third lap. Two of these riders were shed later in the lap, leaving Jesse Anthony (Optum), Walton Brush (Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffees), and Zeke Mostov (Hagans Berman) to continue cooperating to maintain their lead.
Anthony was impressed with the obvious strength of the Hagans Berman junior. “Zeke Mostov, the junior rider, was so strong out there all day. He was taking really long, really fast pulls – it was really impressive. I looked at his top tube, saw his name and thought, I’m pretty sure this is the guy who won time trial Nationals last year, although he later told me he was second.” Anthony admitted that what he saw made him a bit nervous, though. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t dig too deep during the race and had something left to beat him at the end. With about 10k to go, there were a few rising hills, and that’s where we started attacking.” Anthony’s attack up the last, steepest roller finally allowed him to shake free with about 5k to go. “I just put my head down, went bottom to top, got a little gap on those guys, and went as hard as I could”. Anthony finished solo by a margin of 30 seconds or more. Mostov separated himself from Brush to solo to second with an equally large gap.
Although he had to act carefully to ride away from Mostov, Anthony had nothing but praise for the 17-year-old. “It’s cool to see the super-talented young kids. You can tell when they’ve got something special, and he’s really, really good.”
Brush said he enjoyed working in a break with smoothly cooperating riders. “They were taking longer pulls than I was, and I just felt like as long as I showed them that I was willing to work and didn’t overexert myself, I thought I’d be able to hang in there.” He was optimistic in spite of the obvious strength of the other two, but didn’t appear too disappointed with what transpired at the finish. It is worth noting that Brush is a fairly new cat 2, and that this was only his third road race.
Stevens looked stong in the peloton until suffering a flat, but managed to catch back on after getting a wheel from the Optum follow car. She was enthused over her morning riding with the men, “They’re awesome guys to race with, and they’re cool to let me come out here and join in. Everyone’s stronger than I am, so it’s nice to practice my speed, practice my jump, just getting pushed. So hopefully when I go over (to Europe), I’m ready to fly.”
By the P/1/2/3 women’s start at nearly mid-afternoon, there was a bit more wind, but not bad, and the temperature had soared to a toasty 80 degrees. Within a couple miles of rolling out, an early attack by Metromint’s Amanda Seigle created a break of three, with Laura Jorgensen (Pinnacle-Reactor p/b JL Velo) and Marissa Axell (Velo Sports Group). The trio appeared to work well together, staying away for a lap and a quarter, but never increased their gap beyond around 15 seconds, and were eventually caught by the peloton.
After some shuffling through the second and early third lap, Joanna Dahl (Metromint) counter-attacked a move by Seigle and got away with Jorgensen. However, the powerful Jorgensen rode away from Dahl after a short time, and singlehandedly created a gap on the peloton exceeding a minute over a short span of a few miles, which increased by her arrival at the finish line.
The main group contested a field sprint a couple minutes later, with Mary Maroon (Twenty16 Pro Cycling) taking the sprint, and Dani Spires (Pacific Crush) next across the line for the third step of the podium. Up-and-coming sprinter Spires confessed to a strategy of following Maroon. “I just hung on with Mary as long as I could. I had to fight to find her (near the finish), but I figured she was the safest person to get me to the line.”
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