Fifteen minutes into the 60-minute criterium, stage 1 of the Sea Otter Classic men’s stage race and the winning move was up the road. Morgan Schmitt (Team Exergy), Connor McCutcheon (Simple Green/Bike Religion) and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Kenda/5-Hr Energy) were off slowly building a gap to over one minute by the finale. In the end, Jacques-Maynes took the win ahead of McCutcheon and Schmitt. (Read replay of tweets)
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Both Exergy and Kenda/5-Hr Energy were aggressive, sending riders up the road on the 1-km course with two u-turns on the Laguna Seca Raceway.
“From the gun, we were attacking trying to make the race hard because it’s fairly technical so if it’s strung out, it’s just a matter of time before the break forms.” Schmitt told podiuminsight a few minutes after the race. “I think there was one pretty good move with Andreas (Diaz) and a Kenda guy, the counter off that was the move. Me, the Bike Religion guy and Andy of Kenda were up there. Kind of deja vu from 2009, a break just goes up the road in the first ten minutes and that’s the race.”
Though it was deja vu for Schmitt, the outcome was different. In 2009, Schmitt made his way into the break with two of his Bissell teammates and then took the win. This time, he finished third.
Behind the trio who worked well together, Schmitt’s and Jacques-Maynes’ teammates used their numbers to disrupt any attempt of an organized chase. “I’d look back and there were at the front, slowing things down.”
Schmitt knew that the danger man in the break was Jacques-Maynes with a faster kick which he demonstrated in the mid-race time bonus sprint.
“I was trying to watch him.” said Schmitt. Then with three laps to go, Jacques-Maynes fell off the pace with what seemed to be a flat.
“But he had some sort of mechanical, I think he might have had a puncture and then his tire sealed but I didn’t know what was going on because he dropped off and we kind of soft-pedaled for a bit, I wasn’t going to jam on it. Then he got back on with two to go, it wasn’t hard to break it up so it was all together into the finish and obviously Andy is the best sprinter out of that group. And I was pretty bad through those corners on the last lap so I ended up third but we got some time and there’s still lots of racing to go.”
Schmitt is in third on GC at only seven seconds down from Jacques-Maynes with three stages to go and neither he nor his team have given up. Friday brings the 8 laps of a hilly loop in Fort Ord for a total of 69 miles followed by the time-trial on Saturday. The event culminates with the circuit race on Laguna Seca racetrack.
“I haven’t done a long TT yet this year but I look forwards to seeing how it is tomorrow and hopefully have the jersey on Saturday.” concluded Schmitt.
Stage 2 on Friday starts at 12pm PT. Follow the action live on @podium_live