After finishing a close second on Saturday’s race in Charlotte, a disappointed Aldo Ino Ilesic of Team Type 1 came back strong to win the chaotic bunch sprint at the Hanes Park Classic in Winston-Salem NC on a very hot Sunday afternoon. Ilesic’s victory was his third in the past five days and his first NRC win. Fly V Australia’s Ben Kersten was second and Sebastian Haedo of Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light was third.
It almost wasn’t to be for Ilesic as he flatted just before the lap cards showed 5 to go but he was able to use the free lap rule to get back into the race – he made it just before the free lap period was over.
“It was more a fight in my head if I wanted to risk everything but my mechanic motivated me back there so it was good.” said Ilesic about the mishap.
Ilesic initiated his sprint 250 meters from the finish line. “The guys did a perfect leadout and I just put the cherry on top.”
It was even hotter for the men’s 90-minute criterium in the late afternoon than the earlier women’s race, so much so that due to the heat and high humidity, the race officials opened a feed zone on the 1.3-mile (2.0 km) tree-lined circuit around a historic park in Winston-Salem’s West End.
Once again, flurries of attacks greeted each lap but the high speed of the race kept all moves in check and riders were always brought back. “It was too fast for anything to get away, I was sitting on 50 k an hour.” said Kersten.
Team Type 1 actively chased down breaks as they were looking for a bunch sprint finish.
“The thing was that we wanted to keep the field together because Ken and I were strong especially for the sprint so it was a good reason to keep everything together and that’s what we did.” said Ilesic.
Riders from Aerocat, BISSELL, Texas Roadhouse, Champion Porsche, Kenda, Jelly Belly, GearGrinder and Empire teams all give it a go on the uphill sections but were all brought back as soon as the road started to go down again. That is until the duo of DLP Racing’s Jon Hamblen who initiated the move and Mt Khakis’ Tom Soladay went off the front and managed to stay away for over 10 laps. Soladay was extra motivated in front of sponsors and friends as his team is headquartered in Winston-Salem.
But the pair was no match to the power of the Colavita/Sutter Home team and were reeled in with three laps to go. And the battle of the trains commenced.
“In the second to last lap, I was pretty far down, the bunch hesitated a little bit and just swarmed and took up the whole road. It was hard for anyone to move up. I found myself diving up on the inside, ending up near a couple of sprinters and I jumped on the Colavita train. I just stayed patient behind them. ” said Kersten.
The Colavita train was still in control when the final bell lap was rung but the team was swarmed in the uphill section.
“My train was in control for the last three laps and on the last climb, it was everybody went to the front, it is very difficult to pass in the second section, narrow roads with a lot of corners.” said Haedo.
“Going into the last lap, our guys pulled so fast, so we got into that technical section with 700 meters to go in first and second position. After that, Shawn Milne just pulled it to 300 to go. I just finished everything that they did.” said Ilesic.
“Alejandro [Borrajo] and I were behind Kelly and Aldo jumped, Kelly dropped and three, four bikes and bye.” said Haedo who added with a laugh “It’s downhill, it’s not good for me, I’m very light.”
“At the end I had the fastest legs and I won but the team did a perfect job, thanks to all the guys.” concluded Ilesic.
The course made for an interesting sprint with the jockeying happening in the back side prior to the downhill race to the finish.
“It was a weird sprint, I was trying to figure it out during the race. It is downhill but it is uphill around the corners in the back where you would carry a lot of your speed so I think a lot of the sprint is done there and this is just hanging on for the last few meters. I don’t think you could make up more than a few places on this downhill. Everyone has the same speed, I was measuring the course every lap and I knew a spot where I would have to go in that situation and I went from there and I knew I could make it to the line full speed. ” said Kersten who started racing on the road on in April after a very successful track career. He finished second at the 2006 Track World Championships in the kilo after winning the Commonwealth Game in that same field and is a “some off 30 times national track champion”.
Complete results here
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