Meet the new King of the Hill, Brad Huff of Jelly Belly p/b Kenda. Yep sprinter Huff won the King of the Hill (KOH) competition at Nature Valley Grand Prix. While the climbs might not have been that long, he still had to contend with steep kickers and aggressive riding.
“I’ve been training hills, there’s a hill in Springfield that I do a lot.” said Huff jokingly. The size of the hill in Sprinfield, Missouri? “200 feet maybe.”
After a slow start to the season, Huff continues to show good form, first with the omnium win at St Francis Tulsa Tough and now the KOH at Nature Valley.
“I still think I’m getting a lot better, I still think I have some more form to come and hopefully it comes in August, the best month for me.” said Huff about his form.
Getting in the right move. With the Cannon Falls Stage cancelled due to a tornado warning, the KOH jersey was up for grabs in stage 5 at Nature Valley Grand Prix in a brand new course, the Menomonie Road Race.
“It was up and own a lot, the climbs were just big enough that it really slowed down the group, it was pretty fatiguing.” said Huff about the course.
For the first 40 miles of the 95-mile stage, it was non-stop attacking at the front with everyone wanting to be in the break, including most of the Jelly Belly team.
“Early on, it was cat and mouse earlier in the race, I got lucky that I followed the right moves and was able to go for the sprint in the hill, it was a long day.”said Huff who got into two-short lived moves which netted him the first two KOHs.
Seven riders finally managed to escape the field. In the move were Dan Holt (Team Type 1), Bernie Sulzberger (Fly V Australia), Soren Peterson (Hagens Berman), Dan Bowman (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Nick Frey (Jamis/Sutter Home), Travis Burandt (Hotel San Jose) and Huff of course.
“Once I was up there well, I was like I kind of have too.”said Huff about going for the KOH points. “Luckily everyone else was feeling it enough that I was competitive, I was with some guys that are pretty quick on the hills.”
Huff did have competition from Sulzberger who took top points in the remaining two KOHs with Huff taking second. But that was enough to put him in the KOH jersey with one stage to go, the tough Stillwater Criterium with 3 KOH sprints on the steep Chilkoot Hill.
Having a little fun. Immediately from the get-go, a 3-rider break was off on the first lap of the 20-lap Stillwater Crit on Sunday. In the move were Huff’s teammate Anthony Colby who grabbed third in the first KOH. His other teammate Kiel Reijnen took second in the next KOH.
“We didn’t have anything to lose, we were just trying to be aggressive. It did work out that they got into the early breakaways and took the points so that Sulzberger wasn’t able to get them.” explained Huff. “A lucky day for me that it wasn’t super aggressive for the KOM points but it was an aggressive race.”
Once the third and final KOH was done, Huff knew that he had won the jersey. At that point, it was time to have fun. Huff even signed an autograph for a fan while climbing Chilkoot Hill.
“I was trying to have fun, I had done my suffering and I was able to celebrate.” said Huff about the autograph.
He continued riding off the back until he was pulled by the officials and received a prorated time.
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