Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) emerged from chaos to win the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove AXA Equitable Road Race in a tight 3-way sprint to the line. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit) was second and Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare) third.
“I had good legs all day, I just came off Superweek, where I won that, I think this is my fifth bike win in a row. I’m in good form, I feel great, had a little luck on my my side coming into the sprint. It’s pretty hard to beat me if everything goes right.” said Cantwell who received a $9000 check for his win. And a nice gift to DS Henk Vogels on his birthday.
With the time second bonuses at the finish line, Menzies takes over the lead with 5 seconds on Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and Peter Latham (BISSELL).
Break and hold. It didn’t take long on in the 96 miles (155 Km) stage 2 for a break to make its way up the road, a few attacks were tried on the first of the ten laps, until three riders were successful in getting a gap. Kyle Wamsley (BISSELL), Jim Stemper (Kenda p/b GearGrinder) and Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia) put their heads down and were off, tackling turn after turn – 26 turns per each 9.6-mile lap – to grow their lead quickly to three minutes.
Two riders put in a concerted effort to bridge up, Jonny Sundt (Kenda p/b GearGrinder) and Adam Myerson (Mt Khakis f/b Jittery Joe’s) dangled between the break and the peloton for a couple of laps, but they never made contact and were re-absorbed by the pack.
With a teammate up the road, the pressure to chase was off the shoulders of yellow jersey Peter Latham (BISSELL) and his team, bringing Jelly Belly p/b Kenda and UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis to the front to control.
“I guess Bissell’s and Fly V’s tactic was to put someone in the breakaway to go after the race lead from a breakaway. We were going to be happy with a bunch sprint so we had to play that card, we put a couple of guys in the front, Tim Johnson and Big Heg. Rode with Jelly Belly, obviously Mike Friedman is riding well, they wanted to go for the lead too.” said Menzies.
With Jelly Belly’s Sergio Hernandez and Carter Jones, and UnitedHealthcare’s Tim Johnson and Adrian Hegyvary setting the pace at the front, the gap started to slowly come down. And the other teams got an arm chair ride.
“The day for us, tactic wise and strategy wise was perfect, we had Jay Thomson out in the front, he was only 10 seconds down on GC. We pretty much just had to watch a few other moves going up the road, it was quite an easy race for us to be honest.” said Cantwell.
At the half-way mark, Wamsley crossed the line first to get the $1000 prime and top points in the second intermediate sprint, as he did in the first one. The trio had a gap of 2:30 making Thomson the virtual leader on the road as the highest-placed GC rider in the break. By 4 laps to go, the gap was under the two minutes mark, and continued to slowly go down with the peloton timing the catch for the final sprint.
Hammer time. But then, Kelly Benefit Strategies decided to apply some pressure. With two laps to go, Reid Mumford and Guy East chased and bridged up to the break. Then another two, Scott Zwizanski and Zach Bell went off. The rejuvenated break upped its pace and the break was back up to 30 seconds with the chase duo at twenty seconds.
“All day, we had no pressure, we didn’t have good time trial results, I think that everyone was a bit blocked after taking a break last month. We didn’t have any pressure to chase. Towards the end, we tried to put some pressure on United and I think it worked, with 3km to go, it was a bit of a free for all, no one had control at the front, all the teams were moving up. It was perfect.”
With one to go, as the bell rang, Mumford, Thomson and Wamsley gave it one last go to try and stay away, but they were caught with around a half lap to go, and chaos ensued.
“The last lap was just chaotic and very hectic, my guys did such a good job, they always look after me like they do at every race.” said Cantwell.
Alex Candelario with Veilleux on his wheel came to the front on the final stretch before the last corner.
“I stayed behind Candelario, with all his experience he knows what to do, me I followed.” explained Veilleux. “He took me with the right speed around that last turn. I am not necessarily that fast a sprinter but I have enough power to keep my speed and that’s what I did, I continued to go fast. I was able hold off Menzies but I think that Cantwell is a much better sprinter than I am, he was behind and just had to sprint. It’s okay, I’m happy.”
For a split second, Veilleux did think he had it and started to raise his hands, but then “I saw that I didn’t have it when he passed me at the end.” he smiled.
“Usual sprint, there’s a lot of in the gutter, out of the gutter, last corner kind of stuff. Candelario came through the last corner with Veilleux leadout. I stepped off Veilleux trying to get around him and couldn’t, and then Cantwell just came around us at the finish.” said Menzies. “Happy to get the bonus, happy to be in the jersey.”
“No teams could really take control, United did a great job today, Kelly was very aggressive towards the end. I didn’t really have many guys in front of me, I kind of lost contact. The finish is so narrow, I won the crit in 2009, when you know the course it gives you a bit an advantage. A few holes opened up, I took my opportunity, I came around with Menzies and Veilleux with 30 meters to go.”
More time bonus. The race concludes on Sunday with the 72 miles (115 km), Gullo International Criterium, with you guessed it, more time bonus seconds, cash and turns. The 90 riders will face 60 laps of the 1.2-mile (2 km) circuit with four 90 turns and one 180 turn and a long straightaway to the finish line. That makes 300 turns. Once again, time bonus of 20, 12 and 8 seconds at the finish line and 6, 4 and 2 seconds for the riders with the most sprint points.
The GC is still very tight. Friedman and his team did a lot of work on Saturday, and want the win. Cantwell moved up to 7th at 8 seconds down. Dangerous Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home) is also at 8 seconds down.
Menzies knows that he has his work cut out for him, but the defending champion knows what to do.
“Deja vu. I got second last year.” said Menzies who took over the lead by finishing second in the road race last year. ” It’s so tight, a break can go tomorrow, they can win the race, it’s so close, it was last year. We’re in the yellow jersey, we’d rather be in it, try and defend it than to chase it.”
“Absolutely.” replied Cantwell when asked if he’s going to go for it. “We have such a strong team here this year, we’re going to be super-dedicated, they know I have good legs at the moment, a lot of confidence and with our mateship inside of Fly V Australia, I’m sure the boys will do it again tomorrow. ”
The pro men’s race starts at 2:45pm CDT.
Top 10 Stage 2 Results (Complete results)
1. Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) 3:30:14
2. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) st
3. Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis)
4. Anibal Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home)
5. David Tanner (Fly V Australia)
6. Carlos Ospina (Colombia National Team)
7. Cody Stevenson (Adageo Energy)
8. Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis)
9. Daniel Holloway (BISSELL)
10. Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home)
Top 10 GC After Stage 2 (Complete results)
1. Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) 3:38:41
2. Michael Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) +0:05
3. Peter Latham (BISSELL) st
4. Jeremy Vennell (BISSELL) +0:06
5. Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home) +0:08
6. David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) st
7. Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) st
8. Chris Horner (Radio Shack) +0:09
9. Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL)
10. Andy Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL) st