Only 19 hundreds of a second separate the winner from second place after the opening stage, the MTI Construction Time Trial at the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove. Kiwi Peter Latham (BISSELL) stopped the clock at 8:32.56 to take the win ahead of 2007 overall winner Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda). After leading for most of the stage, Latham’s teammate Jeremy Vennell finished third at one second down.
“It was 7k, 8 and a half minutes, it’s always tight. I think, last year, it was 15 guys in the top 10 seconds, it’s always nice to be on top of such small margins.” said Latham after the stage. It is Latham’s first NRC win of his career. Once again this year 16 riders are separated by 10 seconds.
Those 19 hundreds of a second made a $1500 difference, with Latham taking home $3,ooo.
Third rider out of 91 starters, Vennell set the early fast time of 08:33.87 which put him in the hot seat for the next 56 riders until Friedman grabbed the top spot. Second to last rider to go, Latham used his track skills to tackle the 4.5-mile (7.2-km) out-and-back course with five turns and a long finishing straight.
“I knew it was important to carry the speed out of the corners, I don’t know if that did that that well.” smiled Latham. “I was just trying to keep on top of the gears, spin a really high cadence like they do on the track. It came out well for me and also for all the whole team.” The 26-year old has medaled in the Individual Pursuit at the Oceana Games and in the Teams Pursuit at the World Track Championships in 2009.
For Friedman, the TT is a stepping stone for Nationals. “It’s a TT and I’ve won this race before. I’m training to beat Dave at Nationals so us this as a tester. It was good. My family is here. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to go, I haven’t done that many that year.”
Last year’s winner Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare) finished 4th at 3 seconds down, and Chris Horner (Radioshack) placed 8th at 4 seconds.
Battle is on. Latham knows that he has his work cut out for him to keep the yellow leader’s jersey with 29 riders separated by 20 seconds on GC and Saturday’s 96 miles (155 Km) AXA Equitable Road Race offering up to 26 seconds in time bonus. The riders will face 10 laps with 26 turns each – for a grand total of 260 turns, and some are tight. (See cheat sheet)
Riders waiting to pounce include NRC leader Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home), Rory Sutherland and Menzies (UnitedHealthcare), Zach Bell and Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and David Tanner (Fly V Australia) who all sit at 10 seconds or less.
“Pete is a very good sprinter, hopefully we can get some of those bonus seconds and win a stage. I’m sure he’s got it in his legs.” said Vennell.
Latham added. “The other thing, a lot of the guys on the team are up there, there are guys faster than me on the team.”
BISSELL has 4 riders in the top 10 with twins Andy Jacques-Maynes and Ben Jacques-Maynes in a virtual tie at 4 seconds down. AJM was faster by a whisker. “I think we stacked it pretty well.” said Vennell.
Even though he won the overall in 2007, Friedman has never done the road race but he’s ready for it. “I thrive at that stuff, the longer the better for me. Coming from Garmin, I can suffer at the end of the race better than some of these other guys because I got a longer, longer races in my legs. We’ll see what happens and if it rains, it will be a bit of a show.”
And he wants to win again. “I’m here to win again, I’d like to win. I’m willing to crash to win this race. There’s good money and my family is here and I’ve won it before, it will be nice to put my stamp on it again.” commented Friedman.
“Lots of money, every single is here and every single rider is going good and we’ve got our work cut out for us.” finished Latham. The stage winner can look forwards to a $9,000 check.
The men’s pro race starts at 4pm CST.
Top 10 Stage 1 Results (Complete Results)
1. Peter Latham (Bissell) 0:08:32.56
2. Michael Friedman (Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b Kenda) +00:00
3. Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) +00:01
4. Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) +00:03
5. Luis Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita) +00:03
6. Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) +00:04
7. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) +00:04
8. Chris Horner (Radio Shack) +00:04
9. Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b Kenda) +00:04
10. David Tanner (Fly V Australia) +00:08