Tom Zirbel wins the St. Paul Time Trial with the only sub-16 minute time of the day at the opening stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Teammate Scott Zwizanski held an early lead, finishing third on the day while John Murphy of Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder finished second.
With only four seconds separating second placed Murphy from Zirbel, the Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder team will be looking to set Murphy up to win as many sprint time-bonuses as possible over the next few days.
“Our team won here last year, and that’s definitely our goal this year,” said Zirbel. “If it’s me, great, if it’s not, as long as they’re wearing our jersey I’m happy.”
“It’s going to be an interesting next couple of days with some really quick riders like John Murphy looking for time bonuses,” said Jonas Carney, Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies director sportif. “There are going to be guys gunning for the time bonuses and gunning for the stage win. We didn’t bring a lot of sprinters here, we brought time trialists and climbers, so we’ll do our best to defend Tom.”
“Really we’re gunning for the overall classification. Zirbel almost won three years ago, Zwizanski almost won two years ago, and Jesse [Anthony] won last year, so we have a lot of guys who can contend for the general classification.”
This year the teams were allowed a maximum of six riders, versus previous years which saw a max of eight riders.
“With six man teams it can change in a heartbeat, as we saw on the Menomonie Stage last year,” said Zirbel. “Our goal was to stack the general classification as much as possible.”
Zirbel will wear the leader’s jersey into Wednesday evening’s St. Paul Downtown Criterium. Zwiz wears the King of the Hill jersey, having posted the best time at the intermediate hill split. Devan Dunn (CashCall) wears the best amateur and best young rider jersey.
Top 10 Stage 1 Results
1. Tom Zirbel (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) .15’56″
2. John Murphy (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder) 4″
3. Scott Zwizanski (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) 6″
4. Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling) 10″
5. Bobby Sweeting (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder) 14″
6. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) 17″
7. Mike Olheiser (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) 17″
8. Andres Daiz (Team Exergy) 18″
9. Andy Jacques-Maynes (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder) 21″
10. Luis Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home) 22″