Zirbelicious did it again and got a nice check of $4,000 for his efforts in the ‘cashtastic’ Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove. BISSELL’s Tom Zirbel clocked the fastest time of 8:25 in the 4.5-mile (7.2-km) MTI Construction time trial. This new time bested his winning result last year by 11 seconds on the same out-and-back elongated T-shaped course. BMC’s Brent Bookwalter finished second at one second back and Karl Menzies of OUCH p/b Maxxis is third at four seconds from the winner.
“The road surface is good, the same exact course as last year, I don’t think it came down to who corners faster, I’m sure Menzies put some time on me in the corners but the straightaways are long enough that I can get my speed up.” said Zirbel who went with standard gearing today (and not his monster 58). “Straight up 55×11. I don’t even know if I got into my 11 today, I’m a spinner.”
Even though the course had five turns, it was was not technical. “The first corner was probably the hardest, everything else was smooth, wide open roads. It was pretty much keeping on top of the gears.” said Menzies who just came off a strong finish at Superweek.
It was a fast course today, as early on BISSELL’s Ben Jacques-Maynes, who was the fifteenth rider to go, set the fast time to beat of 8:34. The man everyone else expected to do, Zirbel who was the second to last man out of the gate wasn’t as certain. “I’m not sure of it, I was hearing those times today and ‘oh boy’ ” laughed Zirbel.
“I was just really surprised at how fast in general, I just kept looking down at the speedometer ‘man, we don’t usually go this fast’, it was really fast. The corners, there are quite a few of them, but it wasn’t tricky, pretty straightforwards.” said Bookwalter.
A question of putting your head down but not too much for Bookwalter. “Apparently I put my head down too much, the director said that I have to keep the head up, I probably lost a second or two, looking down, tipping the helmet. But yeah put the head down and hammer.”
“You had a bit of everything, headwind, tailwind, crosswinds, there was no way where you had to really go hard, you had to keep it solid. You never know, you cross the line and you don’t know if you’ve done a good time or not, so to do a good time was awesome, when you get that close to these guys…” said Menzies.
In the final tally, 15 riders are within 10 seconds of the winner Zirbel including 4 of his teammates, Ben and Andy Jacques-Maynes, Peter Latham and Jeremy Vennell; 4 BMC riders Bookwalter, Jeff Louder, Stewart Jackson and Ian McKissick; 3 Kelly Benefit Strategies riders defending champion David Veilleux, Scott Zwizanski and Zach Bell; Team Type 1’s Michael Creed, OUCH’s Menzies and Astana’s Chris Horner. With a time bonuses on the line for the next two stages and even more money, the racing will be aggressive.
Saturday brings the 97 miles (156 Km) Chicago Blackhawks road race with 10 laps on the roads in the residential and commercial streets of Elk Grove Village where each loop has 26 turns – so that 260 turns, some tight. The stage winner gets $11,000.
“Holy smokes, its going to be something to behold. You never know, it’s a 150 k crit with corners, it’s going to be hard, you have to take that many corners, obviously we’re going to go for a sprint at the finish and try and get the time bonuses.” said Menzies.
“We stacked them pretty good, Jackson is probably our best card to play for the sprints, Jackson and Tony, we got Menzies to deal with, he’s a good sprinter.” said Bookwalter.
“I just got to do what I can do, stay in good position, try to avoid accelerating out of corners, I should be fine. It’s going to be a pretty dynamic race.” said Zirbel. The BISSELL team has lost the overall lead in the final day of two previous NRC stage races this year which was hard for Zirbel who was wearing the leader’s jerseys in the races. “You have to try an even keel as much as you can, I took it pretty hard, its no fun. When you see your seven teammates working for you and then you have five or six staff all working for this common goal, and it comes down to you, to let them down like that, it’s pretty hard but they I’m trying my hardest. I have weaknesses, time trialing is pretty solid, but…”
Time bonuses on the finish line for the top 3 finishers are 20, 12 and 8 seconds. The road race also offers up sprint challenges for points, time bonuses and money. There are three sprint challenges at the end of lap 7 to go, 5 to go, and 2 to go. The top 5 riders for each sprint challenge get 5,4,3,2 and 1 point respectively. In the end, the top 3 riders with the most points get 6 second time bonus + $2,000, 4 second time bonus + $1,000 and 2 second time bonus + $500.
More photos to come.
Complete results here