Two weeks in the rearview mirror, NorCal returned from USA Amateur Nationals with a series of stunning performances, replete with three national championship jerseys.
In the Elite Mens road race, a peloton of approximately 50 riders hit the final climb together. In the ensuing battle, Coloradan Emerson Oronte of Horizon Organic drifted away for the win, while Walton Brush of Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffees fought to 3rd place, with Max Jenkins of Marc Pro – Strava just behind front finishers in 5th.
Moving on to the time trial the next day in the rolling corn fields of Waterloo, Adrien Costa (Hagens Berman U-23) started the day off with win for NorCal, hanging on by the skin of his teeth in a 4 second margin over William Barta of BYRDS from Boise, Idaho.
The Elite Time Trial featured a much anticipated duel between Rio Grandes time trial ace, Jim Peterman, and Marc Pro – Stravas serial NorCal time trial winner, Justin Rossi. Steeled with determination and 2 dominating performances back in NorCal at Dunlap Memorial TT and Sattley District Championships, Rossi scorched the course in a race-leading 33:04. Peterman and a handful of riders were still out on the course when Tim Mulvihill of Utah upset the applecart, turning in a sparkling time of 32:54 – a fantastic time incongruous with his 2 minute loss to BMC U-23 standout, T.J. Eisenhart, just a week before at Districts. Eisenhart rode 32:38 to win his own national title in the U-23 category on July 4th.
NorCal saved its best for last. In the downtown Madison criterium, Daniel Holloway crushed the final sprint in the Elite category, with plenty of time to pull his OSMO Nutrition bottle from the cage and hold it aloft over his head – a rare and special tribute from an athlete to their sponsor. Holloway described the days and moments leading up to his win:
“I’ve always found that I preform better at the end of stage races or a race series like Dairyland. I knew going into Nationals myself and the team were the ones to watch, it was up to us to dictate the race. We stepped up and did that, which I’m very proud of the guys for. Going into the last 10 we organized at the front. The guys road a fantastic leadout considering how hard they raced all day. From 4 to go to 1 to go I was the most nervous ive been in some time. From Jan 1 I’ve wanted to wear Stars and Stripes again. It means a lot to wear them and everyone wants to win one race, and nationals is it.”
In the U-23 criterium, Cal Giant looked to be the team to beat, with well executed tactics and positioning throughout. It was not until a crash derailed their plans, taking out Tobin Ortenblad, their main sprinter who had won a stage of Nature Valley Grand Prix only a month prior. With the chances of a NorCal rider winning the race seeming to fade, James Laberge of Mikes Bikes p/b Equator cobbled together some positioning heroics with the help of teammates Travis Lyons and Reese Levine and made his way to the front with a couple laps remaining, and in an exciting sprint, the young Laberge took a dazzling win against some of the finest up-and-coming sprinters from around the nation. James discussed the harrowing last laps:
“The last laps were calm at first until 3 to go. That’s when a swarm came over the top and I lost 20 or so spots. I had to move right back up in the wind to get back into the top 10. From then on out, it was fighting for position behind the Hagens Berman lead out and I was able to fight off my contenders. I was dying in my sprint pretty bad actually and just hung on to the line. I have always visualized winning but I would have never visualized me winning the way I did. ”
In the womens 11-12 Junior crit, Isabella Brunner from Team Swift made the podium with a promising 3rd place finish. Keep an eye on the results pages to come, as Team Swift coach Laura Charamedos has proven her mettle in cultivating young NorCal talent.
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