Clear skies and hot weather roused the NorCal peloton for the 2014 edition of Mt. Hamilton this past Sunday. Both the men and women would endure warm and dry weather in San Antonio Valley on the eastern side of the highest peak in the Bay Area. The women’s and men’s race evolved uniquely, but both continued to favor the best sprinter to make it over the KOM at Lick Observatory.
Women’s P/1/2/3: Bird Overcomes Crash to Duel with Dahl
The women began the climb up Hamilton with restraint, but along the second series of ramps, the race broke apart, with 6 riders riding away: Sara Bird (ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing), Joanna Dahl (Metromint), Diane Moug and Susannah Breen (Folsom Bike/Cervelo), Alessandra Sales (Velo Sports Group), and Anne Valta (iRT – Reactor p/b JL Velo).
Cresting the top, the women began the technical 10 mile descent down to San Antonio Valley. Partway down, Sara Bird miscalculated a corner, locked up both wheels, and crashed into the ditch beside the road. She climbed out with bloody torn kit and continued the descent, reconnecting with the top 6.
The race continued amicably, with the selection of 6 trading pulls together. No doubt the strong headwind deterred a more attack-filled run for the finish. Intact over the final climb of the day, the group of 6 descended the twists of Mines Rd in to the flat final 2 kilometers.
Susannah Breen of Folsom Bike launched an attack to set up her Folsom/Cervelo teammate Diane Moug. Breen’s attack was brought back under control and Moug began the sprint for the line early. Sarah Bird and Joanna Dahl followed up the last little rise to the line. Dahl prevailed in the final, defeating a bloodied Bird, whose performance in spite of her crash was no less remarkable.
Men’s P/1/2/3: Two Different Strategies Deployed In Fierce Team Battle
The moment the lead moto dropped the flag, Kurt Wolfgang (Squadra SF) attacked alone, cruising out of sight of the peloton. Wolfgang documented the race’s neutral rollout only moments before.Satisfied, the peloton rode at a relaxed pace until Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro – Strava) surged ahead with a line of riders following. When Harland-Dunaway stepped off the gas, his teammate Max Jenkins counterattacked, stringing out the peloton again as they rounded a hairpin bend. Jenkins relaxed and his teammate Harland-Dunaway counterattacked and the peloton allowed him to ride away.
Wolfgang, who was already up the road, worked hard with Harland-Dunaway to extend the lead, while the bunch behind, let the advantage grow. When the gap began to reach towards 3 minutes, the peloton became active. Matt Rodrigues (Davis Bike Club Race Team) forced the pace as riders were dropped one after another. Rodrigues continued to tear apart the group as they road higher and higher, now along the third and last section of the climb.
A selection of riders was formed that eventually caught Harland-Dunaway while Wolfgang began to succumb to the fatigue of his audacious starting-line-attack. The group consisted of Matt Rodrigues, Kirk Carlsen (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling), Max Jenkins (Marc Pro – Strava), and Colin Daw (Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffee). As the new group of 5 riders neared the top, skirting faces of open chaparral and gravel, Colin Daw was dropped. Nearing the top, Carlsen attacked to win the KOM.
What emerged was a rare instance of Mike’s Bikes left out of the race’s promising selection. The now group of 4 began the long descent down to San Antonio Valley and began working together to sustain their advantage. However, soon after, a trio of Mike’s Bikes came into view behind, and rode full gas back to the selection. The three consisted of Roman Kilun, Colin Daw, and Chris Reikert. It was revealed later that Mike’s Bikes had done a reconnaissance of the climb together prior to the race, planning to ride the descent faster than anyone else was capable, thus being able to neutralize any time gap under 1 minute.
The selection broke apart and reformed as it became clear that the headwind on the journey to Livermore would make attacking incredibly difficult. On the final short climb of the course, Matt Rodrigues forced the pace again and broke away with Max Jenkins. The two went all in, riding to stay away. Mike’s Bikes began a diligent chase, but it was unclear if they were making inroads against the escapees.
Reikert was sitting on, ostensibly being saved for the sprint, but joined the chase – Jenkins and Rodrigues came back into view. With around 10k to go, Mike’s Bikes had successfully chased back the break and Colin Daw took over on the front to sustain the pace. Following the descent of Mines Rd, Daw drifted off of the front with 2k remaining, Jenkins chased him down just in time for the sprint. Kilun lead out the sprint and no one would be able to come around the fast-charging Reikert when he came off of his wheel – now the 2014 Mt. Hamilton Road Race Champion.
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