The BISSELL team blitzed the opening time trial of the 32nd edition of the Joe Martin Stage Race putting four riders into the top ten with Ben Jacques-Maynes clocking the fastest time and course record breaking time of 8:03:73 , one second faster than last year’s winner Rory Sutherland (OUCH). New Zealand Time Trial Champion and Jacques-Maynes’ team mate Jeremy Vennell was third, a further twelve seconds back.
The 2.5-mile (4km) course started with a downhill in the first 500 meters and then went up, stair stepping its way into the hills, climbing 680 feet towards the finish with an average grade of 6.8% until the final steep kick to the line.
“It’s just brutal, digging in as hard as you can and whatever you have left, you leave out on the road the last 200 meters kicker right to the finish line, it burns everyone.” said Jacques-Maynes who set an average speed of 18.6 mph (30 km/hr) pushing it in the big ring all the way up.
As for gearing, Jacques-Maynes downsized from last week’s setup at Gila and went with a 39×53, and lightweight climbing rear wheels betting “on lower speeds for aerodynamic advantage.” The rest was identical to their standard TT team setup.
Continuing with the team tactics of hedging their bets to handle any weather changes for time trials this year, Jacques-Maynes was the eleventh rider off and the first for his team and Tom Zirbel was the second to last rider in the 160-rider field.
“I don’t mind going first, I’d rather just get it over with and leave the pressure position up to Zirbel because he usually lives up to that pressure. If the weather changes, if the wind changes, if the rain changes, if things start coming down, you still have someone with good results.” said Jacques-Maynes.
When he crossed the finish line, Jacques-Maynes knew that he had clocked a fast time as it was 10 seconds faster than last year’s time but still had to wait until all the riders had finished. Without stressing, he went back to his room to start his recovery process as tomorrow would be go-time regardless of who set the fastest time on the team.
“I definitely have a lot of faith in any of my teammates to put in a good effort, to have us attacking, riding in the front, defining the race for the whole rest of the weekend. It’s my turn to wear the jersey but it’s a team effort from this point on, I am really confident in my guys, we obviously showed up really strong and I’m looking forwards to showcase that this weekend.” said Jacques-Maynes.
Tomorrow is the 112 miles (180 km) road race with over 5,400 feet of climbing and a finishing straight with 6% uphill grade over the last 350 meters. Time bonuses are a factor in the race with 15, 10 and 5 seconds available respectively for the top 3 finishers on the next to stages. Only fourteen seconds separate Jacques-Maynes from Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) who sits in fourth spot.
Most of the top 10 also raced at altitude at the Tour of Gila, “so the long-term stage race effect is definitely taking over which makes it for hard racing this week.” said Jacques-Maynes.
The attacks should fly as OUCH tries to unseat BISSELL from the top and the sprinters will come out and play to try and get a stage, riders like Kirk O’Bee (BISSELL), Seba Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home), Martin Gilbert (Planet Energy) will all be gunning for it. Note that US Crit Champion Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) finished outside the time limit and was cut.
The following stage on Saturday, the 92 miles (148 km) road race can be difficult to control but Jacques-Maynes is confident in his team.
“A lot of undulations with some steep pitches in it, so it could be difficult to control and it’s really up to [BISSELL DS] Eric Wohlberg to decide how we’re going to race it but I have full confidence in my guys and in Eric to get us across the line.” concluded Jacques-Maynes.
Top 5 Men’s Pro/1 Results
- Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL) 8.03
- Rory Sutherland (OUCH) +0.01
- Jeremy Vennell (BISSELL) +0.13
- Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) +0.14
- Corey Collier (Team Rio Grande) +0.17
US TT Champ Powers smashes record.
Current US Time Trial Champion Alison Powers (Team Type 1) shattered the the course record, stopping the clock at 9:37:35, almost one minute faster than last year’s winning time. Webcor Builders’ Katheryn Curi-Mattis was four seconds back followed by her teammate Erinne Willock at 18 seconds back.
“Dang that’s impressive.” said a surprised Powers when told she had the new course record. “I’m super happy about today. I wanted to be pretty fit to be a strong GC rider for the team. With it being our second race all together, I just wanted to put in a good, strong showing. And being the national time trial champion, I want to win every time trial I do.”
Powers is coming off a strong showing at the Tour of the Gila where, riding with a team, she finished second overall surviving all attacks thrown at her including from Mattis and her team.
“The biggest challenge that I faced was going from so high and dry in Silver City to really opposite here, really thick dense air. It was a little shock to the system.” said Curi-Mattis who is starting her third year at Joe Martin.
The women raced on the same course as the men’s race, the 2.5-mile (4km) time trial in Devil’s Den State Park which demands intense effort.
“I felt like I was going good. I caught my 30-second person with one kilometer to go.” said Powers about her ride. “I felt very strong.”
“You can’t go too hard and I knew that for myself as I have a tendency to get really anxious and ramp things up and it’s like bits and pieces blowing all over the place.” laughed Curi-Mattis who has been working on her time trialing skills with her Director Karen Brems and retired Olympian and former team mate Christine Thorburn. “I paced myself, I have a power meter, I never looked at it the whole race, I went on purely off of perceived exertion, get to that place where it hurts and just stay there.”
Powers leads the general classification ahead of Mattis and Willock. Fourth spot is Kristen Lasasso (Mellow Mushroom) at 19 seconds followed by last year’s winner Robin Farina (ValueAct) a further 3 seconds back.
“I think it’s a good goal for our team” said Powers about defending the leader’s jersey. “There’s a lot of time bonuses at every finish. But we’re a strong team. I think we can do it.”
“Alison is riding really, really well right now, we tried hard at the last stage of Gila to put time on her, I was only 11 seconds behind her for second place, and she’s a great opponent. ” said Mattis. “It’s really nice looking at the depth of women’s cycling this year in America, especially coming off an Olympic year where things kind of tend to pull back a little bit, I feel that women’s cycling is just as strong, deep and aggressive as it was leading into the Olympics last year.”
“It is a very close race among the top 20,” commented Farina. “A lot can change tomorrow.”
Next stage is the 69 miles (111 km) road race with over 3,500 feet of climbing and , just like the men, time bonuses of 15, 10 and 5 seconds on the line at the finish. For Mattis, the gradual climb is not decisive especially given “the 30 miles from the top of the climb, gradual rolling almost downhill before coming into Fayetteville for the finish.” The weather could play a factor as sever rain showers are predicted for the area on Friday.
Expect TIBCO to attack from the get-go tomorrow to try and force a long breakaway, and ValueAct and JazzApples will get into the mix. If that doesn’t work, sprinters such Brooke Miller (TIBCO), Kori Seehafer (Team Type 1), Gina Grain (Webcor), Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) will all be gunning for the bunch sprint.
Top 5 Women’s Pro/1 Results
- Alison Powers (Team Type 1) 9.37
- Katheryn Curi Mattis (Webcor Builders) +0.04
- Erinne Willock (Webcor Builders) + 0.18
- Kristen Lasasso (Mellow Mushroom) +0.19
- Robin Farina (ValueAct Capital) +0.22
Complete results here