Well, it all came down the final stage at the mighty Tour de Nez to decide the overall winner in the general classification. After a brutal day on Friday, the men faced the 44-mile (70 km) Northstar-at-Tahoe Village Circuit Race. The race course is a hilly, difficult 2-mile loop that includes a passage over the pavers in the Northstar Village, and the adjacent roads at the village.
Going into the stage, Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) had a scant lead of 4 seconds over Scott Nydam (BMC) and 5 seconds over Friday’s stage winner Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics). And right behing them in the classification were the Bissell duo of Burke Swindlehurst and Aaron Olson at 18 and 24 seconds respectively from the lead.
Rain fell on the first few laps, just enough to make it a bit slippery and produce a beautiful rainbow before stopping.
In the end, Bissell loaded the deck and put 3 riders in a 9-man break, kept the pressure on by utting the engines of Tom Zirbel and Graham Howard at the front and grew a 27 seconds gap to Andy Bajadali by the end of the race, giving the overall win to Aaron Olson with a final lead of 13 seconds over second place Bajadali. Scott Nydam (BMC) rounded off the podium.
Health Net-Maxxis’ Roman Kilun outsprinted his breakmates to take his second win in the race. Another repeat is Jon Baker (Vitamin Cottage) who finished second for the second time behind Kilun. In third place was Ben Raby (SRAM).
Dan Bowman (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) won the climber’s purple jersey, Kilun racked up the points to get the green sprinter’s jersey and 19-year old Carson Miller (Rubicon-Orbea) won the white U23 rider’s jersey.
Break formation (l-r): original group of five; Zirbelicious leads Cozza in the chase; Olson bridged across;
About the stage. Originally when it was just the four of us, Paul Mach, Jon Baker and Ben Raby, there was Graham Howard with us but he was sitting on waiting for his guys to come across which made sense, and we were working very hard because we could sense that the field was shattered behind us, so kept riding hard, we stayed and kept a good gap. Some of the GC guys might come across which is exactly what happened, when Zirbel and Olson came across, they definitely brought some horsepower and so they drove it really hard for awhile, gave me a little time to recover and then, the pressure was on them, I rolled with them a little bit.
About his current form and confidence for next couple of months. You never know how long it’s going to last so you have to use it when you got it. I’ve had some good results in the last couple of weeks, just carrying that through. We’ve got some really good confidence with the team with really good wins at Mt Hood and Nature Valley, spent a lot of time riding on the front there so I build a little form from that, now I’m just trying to use it the best that I can.
About having Roman Kilun in the break. It was great to have him, it helped keep the pressure from Health Net chasing, and it was great for him to win so it was good.
About the stage. The team rode so great for me today and all week. We were really hoping to get Burke or I on the podium, after yesterday it didn’t quite work out so we just tried playing all our cards today. Graham and Tom rode great to get into the breakaway and luckily I had the legs to go across and they just kept the pressure on. And hats to Bajadali and his team, they really rode well, yesterday Eric just rode away from us. It was nice for us to get the overall if that’s the way it works out.
About the team. I’m very proud, everyone worked so hard. Yesterday we did the same thing, we had Tom up there and I went across and it just didn’t work out, neither Burke nor I had the legs. So today, to have two guys up there putting the pressure on, with me not doing as much work, it was great, and the guys just rode awesome.
About having the team ride for him. It’s really special, because normally I’m the guy on the front working for whoever the team leader is, so it’s great to be on the other end. I enjoy just as much working for Burke or Ben Jacques-Maynes so it’s great both ways. I’m really happy to have come through in the end, the guys rode just amazing.
Jon Baker (Vitamin Cottage), second place in the stage
About getting two second places at Nez. I thought I was like a week past my best form, I felt a little crispy coming in and just kind of took my chance I breaks and it worked out. [It was] really close today, I feel that I could have mistimed the sprint, coming around Roman at the end. But two second places isn’t too bad.
About his father. During the Tour of California, it was kind of a deep hole, we were in as a family. Part of the story was the bike racing, he would pass out during chemo sessions, would just sit there with his eyes closed, listening to the race, and as soon as the race finished or I was in the break and got caught, Mom just said that he’d fall asleep again. But the story about that is he battled harder that we have at these races and right now, he’s sitting pretty, he’s bypassing bone marrow transplant and our story is a success story.
About the stage. Today I did not have the legs, yeah the body language showed it. This was a great course, is hats off to Tour de Nez for making a nail biter, this race really came down to the wire, that’s a testament of a good race structure.
Carson Miller (Rubicon-Orbea), winner of the U23 classification
About the stage. Roman [Van Uden] and I were just were trashed with four to go and between the two of us, it was all we could do to hang it until the finish. To come across together was really special. Overall it was a great day, we came here to defend the jersey, to win the jersey and that’s what we did. Roman and I, both, we just burried ourselves, it was a team effort out there.
More photos in the Tour de Nez, Stage 5 Photo Gallery