Photos with grateful courtesy of Garrett Lau.
The Cat’s Hill Classic, now in its 41st year, provided another day of classic racing entertainment for crowds and racers alike on Saturday. The usual contingent of hecklers formed at The Hill, the beloved short block of 23% fun that defines the event.
Scant minutes into the 60-minute circuit, Joanna Dahl (Metromint) made an early move away from the group, “on lap negative 5, like she usually does” quipped Beth Newell (Jakroo Racing Team). Kate Chilcott (Vanderkitten), last year’s winner, along with Dahl left the chasing to mostly Velo Sports Group, Newell, and Jane Despas (ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing). A few laps later, as the duo was caught, Miranda Griffiths (Vanderkitten) attacked up the hill. Newell kept the pressure on over the crest, forming a break of four with Griffiths, Sara Headley (Team TIBCO/To The Top), and Leah Thomas (Metromint). Elle Anderson bridged to the group before they were too far away, and the five worked well together, getting the gap to over a minute at one point. “I was probably most nervous about Elle,” commented Newell, citing Anderson’s cornering prowess in addition to strength, as she tried to plot her game plan in how to take the win with two Vanderkittens in the break. With three laps to go, Headley suffered a mechanical, leaving the break with four. “We knew Beth is a super strong sprinter,” said Griffiths. “Me and Elle had a talk and we thought the best plan was for me to go on the climb with two laps to go.” She did just that, attacking up the hill on the penultimate lap. Newell followed, leaving Anderson and Thomas. Confident in her sprint against Griffiths, a climbing specialist, Newell “…powered up the hill as fast as I could (the last time)…I knew she’d be tired. I crested the hill first and just tried to stay in front through the turn. I knew if I came around first, I could probably power to the finish.” Newell executed to take the win, Griffiths crossing second, and Anderson for third.
The men’s race began with Justin Rossi (Marc Pro-Strava) and Jacob Albrecht (Whole Athlete Specialized) off the front for about 20 minutes, at which point Rossi dropped his break buddy on the climb and was by himself. Roman Kilun (Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffees) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis Hagans Berman) bridged to Rossi, with Kilun’s teammate Craig Fellers coming across to join the break a couple of laps later. “It wasn’t that cohesive of a group,” recalled Rossi, “I think Mike’s wanted LaBerge (to win in a sprint) no matter what, so they weren’t going to go full in. I wasn’t going to go full in because I was outnumbered, and then Jacques-Maynes was just…you know, doing the Jacques-Maynes thing.” Still, the group stayed away for some time. When caught, Rossi sat in, staying alert, and countered a move by teammate Jonathan Teeter. Rossi got clear of everyone and soloed off the front for the last 20 minutes or so, drawing huge cheers from specators, but was vacuumed up by the chase, organized to put the sprinters in place, just into the last lap. After an exciting 75 minutes of aggressive racing, it boiled down to a field sprint, taken by Ben Jacques-Maynes, followed by James LaBerge (Mike’s Bikes), and Josh Carling (Marc Pro-Strava).
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