The BISSELL team used its numbers to perfection in Saturday’s circuit race at the Sea Otter Classic to pull out the win and take 3rd and 4th spots. Under the watchful eye of Fausto Pinarello, Andy Jacques-Maynes soloed to victory after attacking a 3-man break in the climb of the final lap. Luis Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home) was second and Jeremy Vennell (BISSELL) was third.
“We have eleven guys out of eighty, we stacked the field, we stacked every breaks, we had our numbers right, we played it just, it worked out good for us. Hats off to the team because I had an easy ride yesterday and I think that fresher legs really helped. We stacked the break earlier today and that gave us an easier ride. ” said Jacques-Maynes.
“I felt good, just one lap too many. I’m very happy to go to the podium.” said Amaran via translation by his teammate Anibal Borrajo. “The strategy was to have one guy in the break, only 4 guys in the race, very little, we are happy to get second place. ” continued Borrajo.
The attacks started early in the 70-mile race held on the Laguna Seca Raceway where each lap included a challenging 300-foot climb and the descent down the world-famous corkscrew. The plan to handle yesterday’s winner Levi Leipheimer (Astana) for the BISSELL team was simple today. “Don’t leave it until the last lap.” said Vennell.
The break went off the second time up the climb with BISSELL’s Paul Mach leading the charge followed by Amaran (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Aaron Tuckerman (Land Rover-ORBEA).
After a few laps more riders, including more from BISSELL and Colavita/Sutter Home bridged up to make it a 6 riders off the front. The new riders to join were Borrajo, winner of the Thursday’s criterium Morgan Schmitt (Bissell) and Vincent Owens (HDR-lombardi Sports).
The gap grew to one minute and the teams that missed the break put a few riders at the front to try and chase it down, until Leipheimer put in a few digs which shattered the field.
“Anybody else who didn’t make it, they’d throw a couple of guys there and we just had to make sure that nobody was going to just go charge up the hill. And then it was the Levi show for a little while, he just nailed them back kind of solo. It broke apart a couple of time on the hills when he went hard but it all came back together on the flat because it’s really easy to catch on because the wind is not so hard this year. ” said Jacques-Maynes.
With 12 laps to go, the lead group of 25 riders with Bissell riders leading the chase started to bring the gap down.
“We were just covering moves, I think the two Colavita guys with Morgan and Paul were a bit faster in the sprint and we thought so and we weren’t too keen that they get to the finish line, unpredictable finish then. With them in the front, we didn’t have to ride so that was good.” said Vennell.
And then they were caught and it started all over again. Once again, after a few tries, BISSELL initiated the break, this time it was Kiwi Vennell. Jacques-Maynes and Amaran bridged up and the trio worked hard to get a gap on the lead group.
“Once it caught all back together, it was just starting all over again, hit the reset button, everybody is attacking, this way, that way and we finally got the good move going. And as soon at the gap started opening up, everybody was on the radio ‘green light, go, go, go’ so [I told myself] ‘okay, here we go, lets give this a shot’. The gap opened up quick and then we had to ride and keep it steady.” said Jacques-Maynes.
“We all rode, all three of us worked well together, we had too. We kept it a one minute for a long time and then finally they gave up. ” said Vennell.
“No attacks until the final lap, we worked together because Levi was behind us.” agreed Amaran.
Jacques-Maynes was concerned about having Amaran in the break as the Cuban has won in bunch sprints and by soloing away from breaks.
“When we were in Argentina, I was in a breakaway where he just rode away from us and soloed away from the entire field, he can sprint and he can timetrial away so I wasn’t going to let it go until the final 200 meters” said Jacques-Maynes.
In the final laps, a few riders tried to bridge up from the lead group including Alex Howes (Garmin-Holoweko-Felt), Chris Jones (Team Type 1) and O’Bee. But they never made it. Howes and Jones were re-absorbed by the lead group and O’Bee chased on his own to get the fourth spot on the podium
The final time up the climb, Jacques-Maynes dug deep, overcame cramping and soloed away from the trio. “I saved it all for that one attack and gave it everything I had.”
Amaran dropped Vennell on the back side to take second place.
The lead group came in together and Leipheimer was the first across the line for fifth.