24 June 2014
The last two stages from the Little City Stage Race played out this past Sunday with dominating performances, at the Diamond Valley Time Trial, and cagey racing at the Downtown Minden Criterium. In the end, the main protagonists for the omnium held their own; the prowess of Alison Tetrick (Twenty16) and the magnanimity and strength of Justin Rossi (Marc Pro-Strava) took the overall stage wins. This after some challenging and technical conditions, great racing, and a throughly enjoyable spectacle from Tour de Nez promoter Bubba Melcher.
Insect Swarms Again
Coming out of the second stage, omnium leaders Alison Tetrick (Twenty16) and Justin Rossi (Marc Pro-Strava) put in very strong times for the out-and-back 10-miler. Despite one of the plentiful grass-hoppers getting in behind Rossi’s visor, as they were again swarming across part of the course, the Marc Pro-Strava racer finished 36 seconds faster than his competition and kept his omnium chances at full tilt.
The Women’s P/1/2/3 wave started shortly before noon under reasonable temperatures and light wind. As expected, Tetrick covered the course in the fastest time but the drama was in the battle for second. Erica Greif (Velo Sports Group) was sitting second in the omnium going into her time trial but she suffered a rear flat about a mile into the course. She decided to continue and toiled through the remainder of the 10 miles. In setting the slowest time for the P/1/2 Women, Greif’s strong chances for second overall received a massive dent.
Cristina Hughes (Pinnacle) finished second in the time trial but Diane Moug’s third moved the Folsom/Cervelo racer into second in the omnium. Kim Wik (Pacific Crush) was fourth in the time trial in what would become a much improved day for the experienced racer. Meanwhile, the 17 year-old Aliya Traficante (Davis Bike Club) would move into fourth in the omnium.
“Please Don’t Attack”
As with the road and circuit races, Tetrick again assumed early control setting the pace in the first lap of the Downtown Minden Criterium. As the race progressed, one expected to see Tetrick then stamp her authority, as many knew she could. Nevertheless, the pace slowed significantly along some portions of the course. With the field intact, much of the excitement came with field sprints for mid-race prizes.
Erica Greif showed spirit holding onto the sprinting Tetrick’s wheel, on many occasions, but her race for second in the omnium was always a difficult ask. With the promising Aliya Traficante putting in a solid criterium race, Greif made sure to consolidate her third place in the omnium.
Midway through the race, a resurgent Kim Wik was away on a solo break. By her own admission, Wik’s first day of the stage race was miserable including some physical and mental suffering after the road race. Now, on the final day and following a good time trial, the experienced racer was leading off the front and proving once again she can indeed race.
“[I] tried to stay positive,” described Kim Wik. “I really like crit racing especially when they’re technical. I like to hit turns hard. Ali [Tetrick] had a bulls-eye on her back and everybody was marking her. That’s when I decided on the backside in the turns to just take off. I stayed off for quite some time and had a blast going through the turns by myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have the stamina so when they caught me Ali came around and gave me praise. I asked her ‘please don’t attack’ which she didn’t and she gave me her wheel.”
Once Wik’s lead fell away the next phase of the race saw occasional sprints for the remaining individual lap prizes. Expectations rose for any Tetrick attack. None were sustained even though small splits did show. It was a cagey race as most of the racers appeared to wait for that move from Tetrick. Meanwhile, the Twenty16 racer continued to improve her overall game by working on her sprints.
A four-racer break formed very late in the race with Tetrick, Wik, Moug, and Greif. Finally, the race ran out of laps and Tetrick put in the deciding attack for the win. Moug finished second in the race and overall as Greif did the same for third place. Wik secured fourth place in the race.
Wik acknowledged her gratification in coming back from a bad start to the stage race. “It was a good weekend. It didn’t start off great with that road race; I’ve never been so ill in my life with all of my athletic endeavors. I was happy to be fourth and possibly move up in the overall coming from last in the road race.”
The rest of the Women’s field had a bunch sprint for fifth that was won by Traficante, reinforcing her standing as a promising bicycle racer. “Oh, she’s fantastic for seventeen,” remarked Wik, “and she’s a good wheel. I always worry about the youngsters because they take more risks than us older folks. But Aliya’s great. She rode real, real well. She’s seventeen and has a way to go before she gets big-girl gears but I think she’s going to be a good cyclist and racer.”
Having it All to Lose
With the Men’s P/1/2 race at the Downtown Minden Criterium, omnium leader Rossi had it all to lose. His lead over second place overall, going into the final criterium, was 25 points to Colin Joyce (Cal Giant) and 73 points to Yannick Eckmann (Cal Giant) in third. But there were 80 points on the table for a win. So when the field split into two and the leaders caught the second group, it was surprising and confusing to see Rossi as a lapped rider.
Officials needed all their video technology and wiles to keep track of the race with the leaders and lapped riders staying together. Spectators too were discussing back and forth over the permutations. Eventually the race seamed less bleak for the Marc Pro-Strava racer as Joyce was lapped with Rossi. After some animated racing, first Rossi led a two-racer break and then his team mate Chris Harland-Dunaway went off the front with Diego Binatena (SKLZ-Swami’s Development Elite Team).
In the Moment
Binatena and Harland-Dunaway held an 8-second lead at six-to-go. A third-place finish for Eckmann would only garner 63 points.
The front of the chasing field was chock-full of Giant Berry red. At three-to-go, Jacob Albrecht (Whole Athlete Specialized) bridged to Harland-Dunaway and Binatena before going into the first corner. Then, on the backside of the course, all three were caught and it was grupo compacto. Coming around for two laps remaining, Rossi put in a massive attack all the while yelling at the nearby Mike Larson (Velo Reno Cycling Team) to follow his wheel.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to make the two laps,” admitted Larson. “I think that’s the hardest I’ve ever gone. I just tried to focus on staying on his wheel the whole time.”
Larson and Rossi took the bell lap in front. On the backside of the course the field started to wind up but coming around the final corner they were too far back to affect the win. With Rossi as a lapped rider, he magnanimously sat up in the sprint. Larson took a deserved win for his late race effort following Rossi’s pull, much to the delight of his team.
“It was fun. I’m really happy right now,” continued Larson. “I got a little confused [with the lapped riders]. I went with a break early in the race and all of a sudden we caught into a group. I didn’t know if they were lapped. I just paid attention in the moment.
“The same as every race, I go out there and do the best I can and put everything I’ve got. That’s the most important thing I do and have fun.”
In the field sprint, it was Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant) taking second ahead of Rossi’s team mate Jared Kessler. Despite missing out on the omnium win, Cal Giant racer’s took the next three overall positions.
Final Omnium Standings
1. Alison Tetrick (Twenty16)
2. Diane Moug (Folsom/Cervelo)
3. Erica Greif (Velo Sports Group)
4. Aliya Traficante (Davis Bike Club)
5. Kim Wik (Pacific Crush)
1. Justin Rossi (Mrc Pro-Strava)
2. Yannick Eckmann (Cal Giant)
3. Colin Joyce (Cal Giant)
4. Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant)
5. Jacob Albrecht (Whole Athlete Specialized)
Full race results will appear on the Tour de Nez web site.
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