Lots of racing this weekend – a quick recap.
Lets start off with the NRC Dana Point Grand Prix which is raced on a .8-mile L-shaped course with 6 turns. US Crit Champion Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) easily won the bunch sprint in the 90-minute race ahead of former teammate Jeremiah Wiscovitch (SC Velo) and Sebastian Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home). The 60-minute women’s race was marred by a major crash that stopped the race and once re-started the just formed break was forced to start with the field as the officials were not sure of the time gap. The finale also came down to a bunch sprint won by Nikki Butterfield (Webcor Builders) with her teammate Gina Grain taking second and Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Sutter Home) rounding off the podium.
The USA Crits Speed Week kicked off on Saturday with the 30th Annual Athens Twilight Criterium which also kicks off the USA Crits series. The 4-rider TIBCO team raced aggressively from the start sending US Crit Champion Brooke Miller on the attack at the beginning of the 40 km race in front of a loud and appreciative crowd. And on it went, move and counter-moves until the shattered field came back together in the final laps and TIBCO executed flawlessly to bring Miller to the line first to claim victory ahead of Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Jen McRae (Team Type 1). In the men’s 80 km race, the break actually made it to the line and in the end Heath Blackgrove (Team Hotel San Jose) timed his move and jumped from third-wheel in the 3-man break to take the win. Mark Hekman (Mt Khakis) was second and Adrian Hegyvary (Hagens-Berman) was third.
The second race of the 7-race USA Crits Speed Week, the 8th Annual Historic Roswell Criterium was held on Sunday. The same three women dueled for the win and this time Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) came out on top, claiming her sixth Roswell win. Brooke Miller (TIBCO) was second and Jen McRae (Team Type 1) was third. In the men’s race, Tom Soladay (Mt Khakis) attacked his late break companions to take the gambler’s prime on the penultimate lap and finally the win. Second place went to Kyle Walmsley (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Canadian Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies) was third.
Darren Lill (Team Type 1) overcame a 30-second deficit on the final stage the win the overall of the 3-day, 4-stage La Vuelta de Bisbee this weekend. Many riders use this race as preparation for the Tour of the Gila, on the NRC schedule and the battle raged between Team Type 1 and Fly V Australia for the overall.
Defending champion Gregorio Vega (Tecos Trek) won the 2.8-mile (4.5 km) prologue that climbed 709 feet at an average grade of five percent on Friday evening. He stopped the clock at 9:35, five seconds faster than second placed Carter Jones (Team MW), and nine seconds faster than Lill. Saturday brought the double-stage day with a road race in the morning and the 7.2-mile (11.5 km) out-and-back Warren Time Trial later in the afternoon.
Lill out-sprinted 2006 winner Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) on the uphill finish at the end of the 82-mile (131 km) Sulphur Springs Road Race as Team Type 1’s Shawn Milne finished third. And with his first win of the season, Lill grabbed the yellow jersey but not for long as Zajicek set the fastest time of 13:53, thirty-one seconds faster than Milne in the time trial later that day. Two seconds further back was Team Type 1’s Moises Chavez in third place. By finishing in fifth place at 37 seconds back from the winner, Lill slipped down to second place on GC going into the final stage, 31 seconds behind new leader Zajicek.
With only one teammate in the race, Zajicek has his work caught out for him in the final stage. Tecos-Trek riders attacked in the feedzone and were soon joined by Aldape and Lill who bridged up, and the break gained a 90-second lead at the foot of the 5,930-foot Mule Pass leading back toward Bisbee. And as the road climbed up, Lill put the hammer down and dropped everyone but one. Bernardo Colex (Tecos-Trek) won the stage four seconds ahead of Lill while Zajicek rolled across the finish line alone in fifth place, 55 seconds behind. Lill took the overall title and also earned the race’s King of the Mountain crown. Zajicek finished second and Colex finished third overall. U23 rider Jones rode a strong race to finish in sixth place overall. (Complete results here)