Straight off the plane from racing at the Pan American Games, Canadian David Veilleux of the Kelly Benefit Stragies won the crown jewel of Superweek, the Great Downer Avenue Bike Race p/b Midwest Airlines on Saturday. After lapping the field as part of a 7-rider breakaway, KBS delivered the perfect leadout for the win as Veilleux crossed the line behind his teammate Jake Keough. Ricardo van der Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) was second and Kiwi Heath Blackgrove (Hotel San Jose) finished third.
With big crowds and lots of cash primes, a field of over 180 riders was set to do battle on the flat, fast triangular-shaped 1.2km course. The Kelly Benefit team had a full squad of riders and a plan of action – get in the moves.
“Our goal was to have a sprinter with one of our climbers in the break, it worked, Personally, I didn’t know what to expect as I just arrived from the Pan American Championships in Mexico, yesterday I did the road race, two days ago, the time trial, it’s my third race in three days.” explained Veilleux who found out he was racing in Milwaukee when he stepped out of the plane earlier that day.
By the end of the 90-km race, the last three days and spending most of the day in the front had started to take a toll on Veilleux.
“They gave me a leadout but I was burned, I had trouble passing but it was okay as long as I beat the others from the breakaway.” smiled Veilleux.
Blackgrove had his teammates helping out too. “I had my guys looking after me and Sean [Sullivan] gave me a great leadout but unfortunately I was bumped off his wheel.” He continued with a chuckle, “it’s not really my specialty.”
Barring mishaps in the final race on Sunday, Australian Bernie Sulzberger (Fly V Australia) wrapped the overall competition, which he has held since the beginning.
“One day, one day thank God. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I got the points actually wrapped up on Hans [Dekkers], just have to finish tomorrow, it’s a big relief.” said a tired Sulzberger.
South African Jay Thomson (Team MTN) remains in the Red APC Sprinter’s Jersey.
Many break attempts were made until the right combination of riders was found and even then, it wasn’t smooth sailing. An early break of 3 riders that included Veilleux and Mike Friedman (Garmin-Slipstream) stayed off the front for 20 laps before being reeled in. At about the halfway point, a group of 13 riders went off the front which included Blackgrove, van der Velde, Veilleux and his teammate Neil Shirley, three Mt Khakis riders Adam Myerson, Paul Hekman and Tom Soladay, Ian McLead (Team MTN), Paul Martin (Panther) and Sergio Hernandez (Rock Racing).
“We weren’t working very well, there were too many guys, three Mt Khakis guys, 2 Kelly Benefit. One of the Mt Khakis guys, Adam Myerson was trying to sit on, He thinks that the other two guys are working for him but realistically if he’s not going to work, others are not going to work. I wasn’t feeling great, I’m not a sprinter, I had nothing to gain to be in there, I just rolled with it just to keep them happy really. ” said Blackgrove.
After a few laps the break splintered with 7 riders in the front group – Veilleux, Blackgrove, Soladay, Hernandez, McLead, van der Velde and Martin. The group finally worked well together and lapped the field with 11 laps to go which pleased Veilleux.
The Kelly Benefit squad controlled the front as the lap cards were flipped with primes still being announced until the final big daddy of them all, the crowd prime of almost $1200 with one lap to go. Jelly Belly’s Brad Huff just edged Andreas Muller (No Radunion) for the money.
“Muller went first but – first I had to ask about 5 riders if they really said $1192 dollars and – then I saw him go for the prime and I had to do a hot route on Kelly and I apologized to them when they came by me on the last lap. I just felt bad about nipping them on the line but when there’s cash involved I just go for it. ” said Huff.
The final lap was all about positioning and leadout.
“Sean was just trying to get me up there and I got sandwiched before the final turn and I just lost his wheel, had to brake a lot, come from away back and by that time, Kelly Benefit had it perfect, that’s their specialty, full credit to David for the win. And the Garmin guy had a gap on me and I couldn’t get him.” said Blackgrove
“We have a strong leadout with the guys that are here. I won because of them.” finished Veilleux.
Complete results here
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