The Trek-Livestrong kids did it again at stage 4 of the SRAM Tour of the Gila. Seventh out of the final corner, Australian Joe Lewis opened and sprinted to the line to take the bunch sprint, making two years in a row for Trek-Livestrong following Taylor Phinney‘s win last year. Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home) took second with Aaron Kemps (V Australia) third.
But before the final lap, pure chaos reigned. With two laps to go, the lap cards showed 1, the bell was rung and the announcers yelled loudly ‘one to go, one to go, one to go’. But it wasn’t, it was actually two laps to go. Some of the riders knew it but others were sprinting for the final lap. Chaos in the field. The faces and gestures of the riders when they came through the next time said it all as the bell was rung once again.
The frustration with the mistake was still evident after the finish with the riders and the DS. Either way some riders and teams lose when something like this happen, if they have gone with the initial mistaken 1 to go, the riders that were keeping tabs would not have sprinted, or this way, some sprinted too early. Riders that opened their sprint in the mistaken 1 lap to go included Cole House (RealCyclist.com), Shawn Milne (Kenda/5-Hour Energy) and Logan Loader (RideClean).
Before the mess however was non-stop attacking. It never stopped as the front of the race shuffled and re-shuffled again with riders trying to make a move stick. The team involved in every move and always sending a rider off the front was Pure Black Racing. Joining them were riders from BISSELL, Chipotle Development, Trek-Livestrong, Exergy, Juwi-Solar and more. But nothing stuck.
There was also the battle within the battle for the green sprint jersey between leader into the crit Frank Pipp (BISSELL), Lewis, Borrajo and Alex Howes (Chipotle Development). By virtue of the 15 points for the stage win, Lewis takes over the sprint jersey.
Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com) still leads GC and KOM classification. Joe Dombrowski (Trek-Livestrong) keeps the white U25 jersey.
Racing continues on Sunday with the Queen Stage, the 105.7 miles (170.1km) Gila Monster Road Race with 9131 feet of climbing and 8252 feet of descending with five climbs. One of those is the 7-mile long, 1600 foot Copperas Vista climb of the Gila Cliff Dwelling which is followed by the dangerous descent with steep grade and blind corners after the turn-around. So far Mancebo has not shown any weakness and is certainly looking good for winning the overall but he and his team will have to work for it as many including Ben Day (Kenda/5-hour Energy) and Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home).
Joe Lewis (Trek-Livestrong). “Number one priority was to keep the boys on GC out of trouble and the young rider’s jersey, second priority was to win the stage, third priority was to get some points on the road without spending too much energy. A couple of times, Frank Pipp and other guys went full gas for the sprint, so I kind of held back a little bit, picked up 1, 3 points, I didn’t win one but I saved a little bit for the end because I knew that’s where the big points were. I don’t know where Frank was in the end, I don’t think he was in the top 10.”
About the lap card mistake. “Obviously there was a little bit of doubt in my mind where we were up to because some people were sprinting and I thought ‘oh what if it is the finish’, but I’d been keeping an eye on the board from a long way out. One because I was watching it for the intermediate sprints for the green jersey, and two I wanted to know where I should be positioned with a few laps to go. I was pretty sure that it was two to go and not one.”
About the final lap. “I probably took advantage of that [card mistake] a little bit, which is fine, people got confused and I wasn’t. With one to go, Jamis started their leadout, Fly V were at the front, I came from a bit further back and got speed through that last corner. Came a lot quicker than anyone else. I left a bit of a gap and got a run at everyone, people were all over the road so I just managed to squeeze through and got over the line.”
Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita). “I asked Fernando in the corner and he said to me ‘2 laps to go’. It was hard because all the people were confused. With two laps to go, they sprinted and then one to go. Mancebo attacked in the climb two times so I was a little bit tired. Some people were lucky because there were behind and they don’t suffer too much with two laps to go.”
Did he get a leadout? “No because they’re working for the jersey points. I was good in the last corner I think, I was fourth or third but I wait a little bit to go and they passed me. When I passed them, it was too close to the line and I couldn’t pass.”
Aaron Kemps (V Australia Pro Cycling). “This was our aim this week, we don’t have many climbers in our team this year. For me, it’s my first race this season, it’s my first race in 6 months so it’s been a hard couple of days but to get up there in the top 3 today, I’m really building towards Philadelphia, hope to do something there.”
About the lap card mistake. “I don’t know why they were sprinting a lap before. I saw earlier it was three laps to go, and I was counting down in my head. The guys who sprinted, it’s their own fault anyway, it’s no one but their own, they should have been watching.”
About the last lap. “My teammates did a really good job, we hit up on the backstretch up the hill and they led me all the way into this last corner, it’s just a shame that Mancebo come around on the outside, I don’t know what he was thinking or what he was doing to come around the outside and hit the front on my handlebars. He took the momentum off me so I sort of stopped my momentum to sprint and then I had to go again, and after he took the momentum off me, it sort of stuffed my sprint. It’s very disappointed not to win today.”
Roman Van Uden (Pure Black Racing). “We were just trying to attack, attack all day. Trying to cause some pain for some of the GC riders and put on a good show because we knew it was on TV so we have to do everything we can for our sponsors, get the name out there. We just wanted to really ride hard because this is probably one of our team’s strong points, the criterium. It was our best chance to get a really good result.”
Why didn’t anything stick? “I think that headwind up there was just too tough, the bunch rolls with too much momentum and just swamps back up and you lose just too much speed going up the hill in a headwind which is unfortunate, with the right combo I think it would have worked.”
Gord Fraser, DS (RealCyclist). “Obviously other teams feel the same way. Jamis looked like they were setting up for the wrong lap, it;s just one of those things. My guys are really upset right now, Cole had a fantastic race, he was covering stuff, he was floating, he wanted to make up for his mistake at Bayard, he would have been a strong bet to win the race. As an ex-sprinter I can feel his frustration. It’s unfortunate that we have such a rudimentary lap counting system, it would have been nice to have an electronic one, maybe a more experienced official turning the lap cards. I’ve seen some crazy things in cycling and this is just the latest snafu. I got some work to do as a director to calm my guys down and get their attention back to the big picture and that’s to defend the jersey tomorrow.”
Top 10 Stage Results
1. Joe Lewis (Trek-Livestrong) 1:34:14
2. Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita) st
3. Aaron Kemps (V Australia Pro Cycling)
4. Danny Summerhill (Chipotle Development Team)
5. Anibal Borrajo (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita)
6. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team)
7. Michael Northey (Pure Black Racing)
8. Jay Thomson (BISSELL Pro Cycling)
9. Andres Diaz (Team Exergy)
10. Roman Van Uden (Pure Black Racing)
Top 10 GC Results
1. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team) 9:19:44
2. Ben Day (Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling) 0:01:15
3. Luis Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita) 0:01:40
4. Dale Parker (Trek-LIVESTRONG) 0:01:53
5. Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development Team) 0:02:03
6. George Bennett (Trek-LIVESTRONG) 0:02:08
7. Nathaniel English (Yahoo! Cycling Team) 0:02:09
8. Alexander Howes (Chipotle Development Team) 0:02:19
9. Matt Cooke (Team Exergy) 0:02:20
10. Chris Baldwin (BISSELL Pro Cycling) 0:02:21