For the third year in a row, Ben Day set the fastest time at the 6 km (3.74 mi) Chaffey Auto Body Mountain Time Trial to grab the leader’s jersey after the first stage of the San Dimas Stage Race. Day stopped the clock at 12:48.74 after climbing the twisty road beating his time from last year by 5 seconds. After a rainy morning, the sun came out for the first half of the huge 160-rider field but the clouds rolled in at the end.
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After a rough winter, not knowing where he would ride once the Pegasus team fell apart, Day came into the race hoping to do similar times to previous years. “I know my condition is probably a little bit behind to where I was last year and I’m putting a little bit more focus on California and Gila leading into California. Just also, January and February were pretty rough months and that’s why I’m a little bit behind the eight-ball.” he said.
But he started to feel good on his bike these past ten days and his confidence came back. While he wasn’t surprised that he could challenge for the win, he was surprised to see the time gaps.
Matt Cooke (Team Exergy) finished second at 13 seconds back. Saying that he started too fast, Cesar Grajales (RealCyclist.com) was third at 19 seconds down.
Day used his 30-second man Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home) as the proverbial carrot. “I didn’t expect to win by so much but for the rest of the weekend, I’m going to call Luis ‘carrot’ because he was my carrot and he was the perfect carrot to have, so I caught him just before the line. I might actually buy a carrot tonight and give it to him on the start tomorrow.” he chuckled. Amaran finished 33 seconds down.
The past two years, Day and his then team, Fly V Australia, successfully defended against all attacks to win the overall. The 32-year old Australian knows what it takes to win this race but he also knows that the teams will be throwing hooks and sinkers. Going into stage 2, the 135 km (84 mi) San Dimas Community Hospital Road Race, 25 riders sit at within a minute and you guessed it, there are 60 seconds of time bonuses of the line tomorrow. And then, the final stage brings a total of 40-seconds time bonus.
“Every single year that I’ve gone into the crit on the last day, I’ve always had to be aware of guys going for time bonuses, it always comes down to the wire. People like Luis, Cesar and all these guys, they’re good bike riders, they know what to do to get in breaks and put pressure on our team.” Day explained.
The attacks should come on multiple fronts. RealCyclist.com can play the Grajales and Francisco Mancebo card who sits in 5th at 21 seconds down. Jamis/Sutter Home has Amaran and Tyler Wren in 4th at 21 seconds. And Heath Blakgrove, at 32 seconds, won the overall in 2006 by capitalizing on the time bonuses. Watch BISSELL and Jelly Belly to go on the attack to force a break tomorrow.
But Day knows what to do. “It’s just a matter of us being attentive in the next couple of days, not being complacent whatsoever and making sure we’re in the right position a the right time.”
But can he and his Kenda 5 Hour team do it? Let’s not forget that Day is new to the team but he’s not the only one. He quickly replied yes, that he really thinks that his team can defend.
“I met all these guys a month ago at training camp, they were so enthusiastic and motivated and raring to go. The management have done everything they possibly can to make me feel welcome and make sure that I have everything that I need, so it’s setting up really well.” Day said. “The guys are going to be really keen to prove themselves and I know they’re going to ride themselves inside out for the next couple of days.”
While the outcome is still unknown, one thing is certain, Day will be out there directing his troops. “Yes.” he replied with a laugh when asked if he be yelling his instructions. “One part I really enjoy with cycling is working with the team. I’m looking forwards to the next couple of days.”
The next two days should bring some hard racing, a great way to start the season. “I really enjoy kicking off with San Dimas because it’s a hard race and it’s as hard as you want to make it. So it’s a really good way to get the legs going before California and then leading into the season. It’s good to start racing again.”
The men’s stage 2 starts at 1:15pm – follow @podium_live for updates.
Stage 1 Top 10 Results (Complete Results)
1. Ben Day (Kenda p/b Geargrinder) 12:48.74
2. Matt Cooke (Team Exergy) +00:13.8
3. Cesar Grajales (Realcyclist.com Pro Cycling Team) +00:19.5
4. Tyler Wren (Jamis Sutter Home Pro Cycling) +00:20.4
5. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com Pro Cycling Team) +00:20.7
6. Paul Mach (BISSELL Pro Cycling) +00:22.7
7. Christopher Baldwin (Team juwi solar/First Solar) +00:23.1
8. Nathaniel English (Yahoo! Cycling Team) +00:23.8
9. Phil Gaimon (Kenda p/b Geargrinder) +0:26.2
10. Andres Diaz (Team Exergy) +00:26.3