Nine seconds doesn’t seem like a lot but it was enough to make three overall titles in a row for Rory Sutherland of the OUCH- p/b Maxxis squad at the Joe Martin Stage Race. Coming into the final stage, the 90-minute technical and hard criterium, Sutherland had a lead of 9 seconds over BISSELL’s Ben Jacques-Maynes and with the 10-second time bonus for the winner at the finish line, an upset was possible.
In the end, Team Type 1’s Chris Jones outkicked his breakmate Luis Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home) for the stage win, Sebastian Haedo (Colavita/Sutter Home) won the field sprint for third while Sutherland safely finished in the group to claim his title. Jacques-Maynes finished second overall with his teammate Jeremy Vennell in third.
“The guys pulled it together and did their jobs again today,” Sutherland said about his team. “The were on the front from the get-go. They’d let little groups go, but kept everything under control.”
Hard day to finish a hard race. The Joe Martin Stage Race is rated 2.2 on the NRC, one of the highest ranked race on the calendar, for a reason – “there’s not a lick of flat ground in this entire region in the state.” laughed Jacques-Maynes.
From the start, the BISSELL team continued where they left off on the previous day.
“Game on all day, we made OUCH work. I was sitting behind them most of the day, looking to either unleash in the last couple [of kilometers] if they had a problem or have my chance in the sprint.” said Jacques-Maynes.
A couple of breaks kept on going and merged together at the front and 10 men which included Amaran, Jones and his Team Type 1 teammate Darren Lill, were off and managed to get up to 35 seconds to the field which is out of sight on such a twisty and undulating course.
The OUCH team stayed the course at the front of the field working with the same game plan as in the previous years: feather the gap and really drive it in the last five laps with strong riders that had been sitting and waiting, and bring the gap down.
In the final half dozen laps, the break started attacking each other while OUCH stepped it up and reduced the gap.
“Once Amaran and I got away, I was waiting for Darren (Lill) to come across,” said Jones. “But once we figured he wasn’t going to make it and the time gap was coming down, we both started riding hard. The pack was coming fast so I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it to the line.”
The pair worked together until the final sprint to the finish.
“Thankfully it was an uphill sprint,” said Jones who crossed the line one second ahead of Amaran. “It wasn’t an easy way to win it, but it worked out very well.”
Haedo led the pack in a further two seconds down.
“We did what we’ve done here the last two years,” said Sutherland, who finished seventh in the final stage. “The other teams threw down again like yesterday, but the guys weathered it.”
In the final dash to the line, Jacques-Maynes who became more concerned about keeping the time bonuses away from Team Type 1’s Shawn Milne who could have jumped over Vennell, finished eighth on the stage.
“They did exactly what they had to do and they had a good game plan for executing so hats off to them, it was a good race.” Jacques-Maynes said about the OUCH team’s tactics.
“All in all, we got out clean and preserved our spots. It didn’t quite play out in our favor to move up, still good hard racing for the day.” continued Jacques-Maynes.
With their second, third and seventh placed riders, the BISSELL squad won the overall team classification, the second one in two weeks as the team also claimed the same prize at the Tour of the Gila.
“It really shows one what a good stage racing team we have in our ability to both time trial and road race effectively and then it also shows our team cohesion, we race together as a unit and execute our plan together, depend on your team mates and execute really well.” said Jacques-Maynes.
Powers wins last stage and overall victory.
It was even tighter in the women’s race as 9 seconds separated the top three women on GC, Team Type 1’s Alison Powers in the lead, Katheryn Curi-Mattis of Webcor Builders at 4 seconds and 2007 winner Kat Carroll of TIBCO at nine seconds. But Team Type 1 was confident going into the final 60-minute criterium as the team had just won the USA Crits SpeedWeek team title.
“The criterium really fits our ability well because it’s more of a tactical course,” Team Type 1 Team Director Jack Seehafer said after yesterday’s stage. “We’ll be very aggressive and set a hard tempo at the front. Our goal is also to go for the stage win and see if we can employ what we learned at the criterium series.”
And he was spot on. Powers – well – powered away from the field to win the criterium and win the overall title at Joe Martin. Her teammate Jen McRae won the field sprint for second place and Ruth Corset (Jazz Apple) took third.
In the final tally, Powers win the overall by 26 seconds ahead of Curi Mattis and Carroll by 31 seconds. The Webcor Builders squad won the team classification.
“We were either going to win the race today or blow up trying.” Team TIBCO directeur sportif Jeff Corbett said about the team’s efforts to earn Carroll a stage win and time bonus to win the overall title on the final stage. And with that, both the Webcor and TIBCO squads raced aggressively to try and unseat Powers.
At the same time, Webcor’s Curi Mattis was also concerned about the stage coming down to a bunch kick with the fast-finishing TIBCO team in the mix.
“We were super aggressive and we wanted to make TIBCO work to make sure to tire them out if it did come down to a bunch kick.” said Curi Mattis.
In the final laps of the 60-minute race, Team Type 1’s Kori Seehafer attacks launched Powers in her solo move.
“Kori has won on this course before and she had some amazing attacks that just wore people down,” Powers said, “I knew after the last one she did, I would be ready to attack. I was just waiting for it to happen. Jack saw the lull and told me ‘attack now’ on the radio.”
WIth Powers out in front, Curi Mattis flatted with three laps to go and her podium spot looked to be in jeopardy.
“I was really nervous, Alison Powers taking away time bonuses for the first place and there was still 7 and 5 seconds up for grabs, Kat Carroll could have bumped ahead of me has she finished in top 3 so I was screaming over the radio for the girls to take away time bonuses.” laughed Curi Mattis who was awarded the same finishing time as her group due to the 3K rule.
Powers crossed the finish line ten seconds before the field came screaming in.
“Today was very satisfying,” Powers said. “I think the whole team is super psyched that we are doing so well.”
Powers’ victory also means she retains her overall lead in the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series (WPCS). Seehafer leads the WPCS sprint classification. Both will wear their leaders jerseys at next month’s Nature Valley Grand Prix, the third event of the WPCS.
With their second, fifth and eleventh GC spots, the Webcor Builders squad won the overall team classification and also took the lead in the WPCS team classification.
“The team just raced really really well, so we were happy about that and then to secure the team GC for today and then for the Prestige Series as well going into the next race.” said Curi-Mattis.
Complete results here