It was a game of numbers in todays’ crits at the Sea Otter Classic.
Bissell swept the men’s podium with Morgan Schmitt taking the honors. Fielding a squad of 10 men in the 62-rider field, the Bissell team hit the gas as soon as the gun went to break up the peloton into three groups within the first 15 minutes of the 60-minute race.
“We had a big number and our plan was for sure to win,” Schmitt said, “and the plan was to get us up the road early.”
Five Bissell riders went up the road taking a Land Rover-ORBEA rider with them and then upped the pace to drop the interloper, but the move cost two riders leaving Ben Jacques-Maynes, Kirk O’Bee and Schmitt at the front where they stayed until the end of the race.
“We eased up a bit more to ride tempo but the start was brutal,” Schmitt continued. “We just had to get the gap and make sure no one could cross.”
In the final lap, Schmitt was informed by Jacques-Maynes that he would take the win, so Schmitt crossed the line first followed by Jacques-Maynes and O’Bee. Teammate Andy Jacques-Maynes won the sprint for fourth pace and Daniel Ramsey (Mt Khakis) was fifth.
Colavita/Sutter Home’s Kelly Benjamin used her position as a solo rider in the small 27-rider field to lay low and time her decisive winning move in the final 500 meters of the women’s 50-minute criterium.
The TIBCO team went to the front to take control until 17-year old Coryn Rivera riding for hew new team, Proman, launched her first attack 20 minutes into the race. TIBCO responded with a charge of its own from Joanne Kiesanowski who brought four other racers with her. The break of six containing Benjamin, Liza Rachetto (DFT/Treads), Jenn Halladay (Bob’s Bicycles), and Kathryn Donovan (Kahala–LaGrange) surged at each other in efforts to decide the race until a charge by Rivera in the final 500 meters was fiercely countered by Benjamin and Kiesanowski, who failed to block Benjamin’s win.
“I was coming in support of the new crit and to open up my legs to race for the weekend,” Benjamin said. “I was outnumbered and knew I wouldn’t be very aggressive so I just saved it for the end. I waited ’til the last minute and it was kind of like a slingshot where I was able to cross from the outside and finish strong.”
Rachetto was fourth and Halladay was fifth. (Complete results here)
The road racing continues tomorrow with the road race where Colavita/Sutter Home is fielding a full quad with the Borrajo brothers and Luis Amaran, the always aggressive CalGiant team, the Land Rover-ORBEA team and a just announced Levi Leipheimer (Astana) will take on the Bissell squad.
The road race course start on Laguna Seca Raceway and travels down Barloy Canyon Road to the Fort Ord 8.5 mile+/- race loop to end up with a climb back up Barloy Canyon to its crest for a mountain top finish. The Men’s pro/1/2 start at 12:05pm and do 8 laps of the Ford Ord loop for a total of 69 miles; the Women’s pro/1/2 start immediately after at 12:08pm and do 5 laps for a total of 47 miles. (See course at Garmin Connect).