Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) outsprinted the reigning US National Road Champion Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop) to win the Uptown Minneapolis Criterium tonight. Belgian Timothy Stevens (Team 3M) rounded off the podium on stage 4 of the North Star Grand Prix. The three riders were part of a five-man breakaway that escaped early in the race to the pleasure of the enthusiastic crowd.
“I was feeling good, I knew it was going to be really hard to beat Marcotte. He just won Nationals. I just knew that I wasn’t going to come around until I saw the line.” Ortenblad said. Coming into the final lap, the 19-year old rider was third wheel in the breakaway, watching Marcotte who accelerated on the backstretch. “It was hard to stay on his wheel but I was in a good position to do it and then, we came to the sprint, I just went.”
The cooperation between the five riders ended on the bell lap. Marcotte commented, “They didn’t want to come around. Once we came to one to go, I was on the front until the last three inches.”
Canadian Ryan Anderson (Team Optum) remains in the yellow jersey, protected by his teammates who controlled the front of the field for the whole race.
With two hard stages left, tonight’s stage was the one that many riders had circled for the highest possibility of a breakaway making it to the line. And they attacked from the gun. Six laps into the 35-lap race, Ortenblad, Marcotte, Stevens, Andrew Dahlheim (Athlete Octane Cycling) and David Santos (KHS-Maxxis-Jakroo) had established a gap after a surge following the first time bonus sprint.
“I followed a move early and they sat up and went back. I stayed out there and they joined me.” said Ortenblad who was awarded the red Penn Cycle Most Aggressive Rider jersey for his efforts.
Marcotte explained, “I just stayed up front for those early time bonuses, I knew that it was going start to get hard. I can’t remember which Jamis guy but I let them take them because that’s really what their race is, I didn’t want to affect that much. After that, I just started to push it a little bit and you can see Optum at the front and they were happy with every other rider taking bonuses away so I jumped across to the move, kept it steady and made sure we stayed away.”
Team Optum liked the combination up the road and settled in to control the pace for the rest of the race. The gap went up to 28 seconds at 23 laps to go. A crash caused splits in the field and forced many riders to try to chase back on, including Ortenblad’s teammate Ben Wolfe in the white best young rider jersey. Meanwhile at the front, the five riders worked well together, each taking pulls, pushing the gap to almost the one minute mark.
At that point, the five riders focused on the final sprint.
The time gap to the field moved Santos into the green North Star Top Amateur jersey, a goal of his from the start of the race. A jersey that he intends to defend in the next two stages. “I was eight seconds down [after the time trial] so I had the rest of the week to chip away at it. Yesterday, I moved into second, Coulton held on to his eight-second lead on me, and today I had a call-up so I just used that as an opportunity to be in the early move. It worked, it rolled for the whole race. It stayed away.”
No changes for the other classification jerseys. Ian Crane (Jamis-Hagens Berman) remains in the blue Xcel Energy Sprinter jersey, Wolfe stays in white TRIA Orthopedic Center Best Young Rider jersey and Heath Blackgrove (Boneshaker D1) keeps his Sports Beans King of the Hills.
Racing continues on Saturday afternoon with the 95-mile Menomonie Road Race which features rollingarmland in the heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country and finishes with multiple laps of an in-town circuit.