Cole House (RealCyclist.com) outkicked the decimated field to win the Sea Otter Criterium, the first stage of the Sea Otter Classic Stage Race. Andres Diaz (Team Exergy) took second while House’s leadout Francisco Mancebo held on to third.
The race quickly became a game of tactics between the three Pro teas fielding complete squads, RealCyclist.com, BISSELL Pro Cycling and Team Exergy. The three teams, along with Yahoo! Cycling sent riders off the front from the get go but everything was shut down quickly.
About twenty minutes into race, Carlos Alzate (Team Exergy) escaped the field to go for the first intermediate sprint and simply kept on going. His gap grew to 10 seconds while behind him it was a game of ‘you chase, no you chase’. His gap went up to 15 seconds and Mancebo took the front of the field, stringing it out behind him and shelling riders lap after lap.
A few riders tried to bridge but every move was quickly covered. Alzate’s gap was up to 25 seconds with 7 laps to go, then the field increased the pace again and more riders were shelled. Alzate kept on going, digging deep when the dwindling field had brought it down to less than 5 seconds at 3 to go. Counter-attacks flew as soon as he was caught but nothing stuck and the 25 riders or so prepared for the final sprint.
Alzate takes over the green points jersey while House leads the GC. With the GC calculated as an omnium, it’s all about sprinting for those GC bonus points and the finish line – time gaps don’t matter. Three stages to go including tomorrow’s 68 miles road race.
Cole House (RealCyclist.com). “It worked out good, just the Exergy guy off the front, it was a great ride by him, he was out there riding strong. We had to put our guys at the front and try to get the win for us. The guys at RealCyclist rode great. Paco at the front at the end, tells me to get on his wheel and I say ‘okay’. Coming off of his wheel, it would be bad to lose off his wheel so I had to suck it up a little. I’m not feeling great after the flight yesterday and I took a few days off after Anniston because I felt just like a pile of dirt (laughs). Just took a little rest, it’s hard to say how you’re going to feel the day after a traveling day and a couple days off, I wasn’t feeling the greatest but I always try for the guys.”
About the final lap. “I was a few guys back and Bissell was going, Exergy was going. Paco looks around and he finds me going into the last corner, says ‘stay there’. He starts going and a couple of guys got on his wheel, and I figured a couple of guys are better on his wheel than me directly in case he falls a little short but I find that hard to believe for him. Just going into these last corners, I jumped early and got back to Paco’s wheel before the turn and Paco kept it going good through the corners. They say Euros can’t corner but he can corner pretty well.” (smiles)
About defending his leader’s jersey. “We’ve done it before haven’t we? The boys did it last time and I’m sure they can do it again.”
Top 10 Stage 1 Results
1. Cole House (Realcyclist.com Pro Cycling Team) 58:29.3
2. Andres Diaz Corrales (team exergy) st
3. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com Pro Cycling Team)
4. Freddie Rodriguez (Team Specialized Racing Masters)
5. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL Pro Cycling )
6. Stephen Leece (NOW – MS Society)
7. Andy Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL Pro Cycling )
8. Jay Thomson (BISSELL Pro Cycling )
9. John Bennett (California Giant/Specialized )
10. Raul Cancado (Passion Bikes )