Fog licked the coast, creeping up to the edge of the Santa Cruz mountains and blanketing the start of the 2014 Pescadero Road Race at the local high school. Adjacent from the school, neck-high yellow flowers were in full bloom, underscoring the location’s importance for flower-growing agriculture. Marshals efficiently parked arriving racers – a signal of the extraordinarily professional event management to come. Signs alerting drivers about the bike racing at hand lined the sides of 84, a problematic road in the past where drivers have threatened and hit cyclists. Course marshals were everywhere, even in the tiny hamlet of Loma Mar. Marshals lined the tight turns of Stage Rd, alerting riders for the technical bends. As of this report, there were no known incidents along the course. Alto Velo has displayed the best road race course management thus far in 2014, especially for a course of its length.
Women’s P/1/2 – Folsom Bike/Cervelo Battles ICE & Ali Tetrick
Folsom Bike/Cervelo rode to the start from rider Dani Haulman’s house under the cool fog-riddled trees of La Honda. Other riders appeared to camp out in RV’s in order to dodge an early drive out to the coast.
ICE Sportswear arrived with a significant contingent, directed by captain Felicia Gomez. Ali Tetrick of Twenty16 Pro Cycling was also there on the line, her first time racing the NorCal classic.
Racing was aggressive from the gun, with team tactics constantly deployed to shake the race dynamics. Gomez directed riders from ICE Sportswear to attack, either by tapping them or pointing. It became clear that few riders were willing to commit to such early moves, particularly with so much distance to cover, and the ephemeral early breakaways were repeatedly brought back.
The climb and descent of Haskins Hill had the greatest impact on the race – as Ali Tetrick was a frequent aggressor on the climb, whittling the group down, while others took over on the descent, charging down to Pescadero Creek as fast as they could. The technical descent exploited errors in positioning and descending skills – as both Folsom Bike/Cervelo and ICE noticed that Tetrick was not present in the group at the bottom of the downhill. Teams forced Tetrick to work to get back on terms with the peloton.
As attrition began to take its toll and the bunch had reached almost a handful of riders, Marley Smith (Folsom BIke/Cervelo) advised teammate Diane Moug to attack with Ali Tetrick and Leah Thomas (Metromint), hoping that Tetrick would be tired enough that Moug would be able to take the upper hand on the final climb.
The attack unfolded as planned and the trio rolled away to the foot of Haskins. Without pause, Tetrick went for broke at the base of the climb, leaving nothing to chance. The move immediately broke the three apart as each climbed Haskins on their own, as fast as they physically could.
Powering away, Tetrick was able to claim the win in her first time on coastal classic course for Twenty16 Pro Cycling. Moug hung in for 2nd, while her teammate, Marley Smith, surged from the main group, caught Leah Thomas, and passed her to claim the final spot on the podium.
When asked about racing Pescadero for the first time, Tetrick explained, “I have never raced Pescadero before, so I was excited to actually be in town for one of NorCal’s classic races. It is a hard course with a lot of opportunity for fun racing. The highlight of course was the artichoke bread afterwards, and the book that I won.”
Men’s P/1/2: A Sterling Ride By Jacques-Maynes
The peloton rolled out clad in various warmers to combat the marine chill. Turning onto Stage Road, there was a careless crash near the back, but the bunch, which was in a good-natured mood, stopped to wait for the riders to pick themselves off of the ground -there were still 103 miles ahead.
In contrast to the picturesque long grass bending over the edge of Stage, the road itself had suffered greatly in surface quality since the year prior. Caltrans worked on the road throughout the dry winter, tearing out the road completely at one point and leaving a dirt hardpack. The repaving effort by Caltrans is lamentable, for the once reasonably smooth surface is now bumpy. What was once a token descent that strung out the peloton, now chopped it into groups before the second climb. By the time the group had crested and dropped down the second onto highway 84, racing was at full tilt as the peloton reconsolidated.
Several attacks yielded no lasting breaks as the bunch wound through the redwoods, nearing the course’s iconic feature – Haskin’s Hill, a 2.5 kilometer climb at 8%. Marc Pro – Strava climbed from behind towards the head of the race, massing at the front near the crest. Predictably, the peloton broke into groups on the technical twisty descent down in to the curtain creekside woods.
Crossing the second bridge over Pescadero Creek, just past a venerable old apple orchard, Bryan Duke (Bear Development) and Luciano Sponza (VuMedi) went on the attack. Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc Pro – Strava) and Brian Funk (Metromint) were next to join with professional Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis – Hagens Berman) joining the move, sensing it might work. Torey Philipp (Cal Giant) and Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator joined up too – represented by Reese Levine and Marcus Smith – with Jared Kessler (Marc Pro – Strava) cunningly following wheels into the move.
The large group rotated reluctantly while the peloton sat up momentarily because most teams were represented up the road. To Jacque-Maynes dismay, Mike’s Bikes was reluctant to commit to the move, so after passing through the tunnel of Eucalyptus, he drove the pace up Stage, successfully reducing the group. Over the top, Jacques-Maynes and Bryan Duke flew down the descent, gaining a small gap. Jacques-Maynes sensed the opportunity and went for it, working cohesively with Bryan Duke of Bear Development.
Behind, the remainders of the break were content to let Jacques-Maynes roll, hoping their numbers would enable them to control the two escapees. What began as a 50 second gap only increased to 1 minute at the foot of Haskins Hill. Meanwhile, the gap to the peloton had ballooned to 3 minutes.
Riders in the chase began to tire and crack one by one over the undulations of this all-time NorCal classic. With the chase reduced, Jacques-Maynes and Duke began to pull out more time, now 1:30, approaching 2 minutes. The peloton, now aware that Jacques-Maynes and Duke were gaining control of the race, cobbled together a chase, with VuMedi clad in their light blue, black, and white, lined out at the head of the bunch.
The chase, now stuffing their faces with food at a high rate to beat back hunger knock and cramps, was weakening. Philipp of Cal Giant, took the time gap into his own hands and crushed the 3rd climb over Haskins Hill, dropping all but Harland-Dunaway of Marc Pro – Strava. Reese Levine, already displaying an inspiring ride over the harsh terrain of the course, caught Philipp and Harland-Dunaway on the descent after being gapped off. A moto-referee drove up alongside the 3 riders.
“The gap is 3 minutes”.
Behind, the peloton had stepped off of the gas and the gap had gone back out to 3 minutes to the chase. Jacques-Maynes had all but wrested complete control of the coastal classic from the grips of some of NorCal’s best riders and teams. The chase of three unexpectedly caught a lone Bryan Duke, clearly suffering from having ridden a brutal breakaway with Jacques-Maynes. The now-chase-of-four rode together with Duke understandably sitting on the back. Harland-Dunaway attacked over the second climb on Stage with Philipp following and Duke reconnecting on the descent. At the foot of Haskins, now dappled by clear summer day, Harland-Dunaway attacked again, dislodging Duke and reducing the race for 2nd to just he and Philipp.
Up ahead, Jacque-Maynes rolled in for an emphatic win, having bludgeoned the peloton and breakaway into submission – with almost a 5 minute gap to relax with.
Harland-Dunaway and Philipp rode side-by-side up the climb looking for surrender in one another – of course there was none. With 300 meters to go, Philipp sprinted early, momentarily distancing Harland-Dunaway while he regained his wheel, over which Harland-Dunaway sprinted, opening a gap and finishing 2nd.
Jacques-Maynes explained his tactics during the race, “I didn’t really expect the initial bigger breakaway that got away to form quite so easily, but we had representation from Mikes, MP-Strava and Giant Berries so I could see that it was a good move.”
“Bryan did well to follow me, and committed to riding hard once we got to Hwy 84. We rolled pretty smoothly and I was giving him some pointers on pacing out the long effort ahead, but the third time up Haskins hill he was hurting and had to drop off. I was bummed, as he had ridden so well up until that point and deserved to get something from his effort”.
Jacques-Maynes went on to describe his motivations for Pescadero and the tension between the schedule of a pro racer and his desire to race local classics and support the scene: “I have not raced in Pescadero since 2003, mainly due to scheduling with larger national level events, so when I had the opportunity to race this year I jumped at the chance. I’ve been second and third on this course before, but have never won so I was motivated to go for broke… I’m glad I finally got to win this NorCal classic, better late then never! I really enjoy seeing the young guns coming up and racing hard too, Bryan especially but Chris and Torey as well have been strong and showed themselves well on a hard day of racing.”
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