Sprinters Revelry at Menlo GP
Menlo Park Grand Prix
22 July 2012
The 7th Annual Velo Girls™ Menlo Park Grand Prix, presented by Mike’s Bikes, produced terrific racing action as the 2012 NCNCA Bikereg.com Premier Series approaches its climax. Kevin Klein (HDR Racing p/b Lombardi Sports) again stole away for a long solo break in Master 45+ whilst Dean LaBerge (Team Specialized Racing Masters) added his name to the list of winners for Master 35+. There was also a new winner for Men Pro-1-2 as Logan Loader (Team Exergy) toughed his race with broken ribs. Mary Elizabeth Maroon (Folsom Bikes/Mercedes Benz) followed up her two wins last week with her second Premier Series win for Women P-1-2 in as many weekends.
In a near repeat of his race at the Lodi Cyclefest, Kevin Klein was out on a solo breakaway for a good proportion of the race. The earlier laps saw different racers at the front until Klein attacked. “Again it wasn’t [my plan] to go early,” said Klein, “I was a little bit tired this week. I just saw an opportunity and I went out there and pegged my effort. I thought half way through I might get caught by a small group. Luckily it was Dirk [Himley] and one of my team mates [John Cavanaugh].”
Klein was caught with two laps remaining but, “I sat up when they were half a straightaway behind me,” continued Klein, “Once they got there then I saved a little bit for the sprint. Those guys were tired when they [reached me] but I saved a bunch for the sprint.” Cavanaugh took second behind his team mate. After crossing the finish line, third placed and gentleman Himley stretched out his hand to congratulate Klein. Mark Caldwell (Morgan Stanley/Specialized) won a close field-sprint for fourth with John O’Neill (Team Clover) taking fifth place.
The Master 35+ 1-2-3 race was a tightly contested affair with the field staying together for much of the race; nobody was getting away on the flat, 1.4-mile course. In the field sprint, it was Kevin Klein rounding the final corner in front. However, it is a long haul to the finish line and Dean LaBerge was able to come off fourth wheel for the win. “[I] had just one team mate [Craig Roemer] out there so we were just cueing [sic] off each other trying to get a move up the road with [Roemer] in it,” reported LaBerge, “Team San Jose was lined up on the back stretch with three guys with Kevin Klein [and myself] right behind. Coming down to the last turn before the little chicane to the finish, Kevin [Klein] went right on through past the two San Jose guys. I just followed them out of the turn and jumped from there.”
LaBerge agreed that the field did not allow any breakaways and commented “The San Jose guys had the numbers [and] it seemed that they wanted a field sprint. I am good with that.” Finishing second was Dennis Hopp (SJBC) as third place went to Diego Garavito (Village Peddler). Keith Szolusha took the fourth spot with Phil Roberts (Cycles FANATIC Factory Racing) rounding out the top five.
The Race for Women P-1-2 was similar to Master Men 35+ and came down to a field sprint. Competing in the race were the likes of Exergy Twenty12 team mates Pascale Schnider and Alison Tetrick along with Premier Series leader Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling). As the race got going, several Metromint racers were seen at the front of the peloton. At five laps in, Emily Thurston (Touchstone Climbing) attacked coming out of the last corner for the course; an aggressive response from Alison Tetrick and Vanessa Drigo (Vanderkitten-Focus) brought this attempt back by time the field completed another lap.
The next breakaway came from Carol Irving (Touchstone Climbing) and Julie Bellerose (Metromint Cycling). The pair were able to extend a lead of 7 seconds but were caught within four laps. Another serious attack came from Metromint team mates Van Houweling and Rikke Preisler and could have been a big challenge but it only lasted for 1 lap. As the field settled in for the field sprint, Metromint racers began exercising excellent team tactics as they pushed racers up to the sharp end of the field. Rikke Preisler would later comment that her team raced well but still need to improve “for the last 400m.”
Despite the ‘Mints cramming the front of the field, it was Mary Elizabeth Maroon sweeping down the left side of the course to take advantage of the long stretch from final corner to the finish line. It was a dominant sprint-win. Maroon’s immediate reaction after the race was one of praise for the tactics of the Metromint team. Starla Teddergreen took the second step of the podium ahead of Heather Ross (Team TIBCO II). Red Racing’s Juliette Olsen came home in fourth place whilst Thurston finished in fifth.
The turn 7-8 “chicane” saw drama in the race for Men Pro-1-2 with three accidents at different times in the race. One explosive flat took out two racers early but both walked or rode away under their own steam. The second accident saw racers mount the curb to avoid fallen competitors; one unfortunate cyclist went down in a flower bed at the base of a building 4m from the road. The rest of the race played out safely as different racers lead the field. Andres Gil (Michael David Winery Cycling) was an early leader whilst Keith Hillier (Marc Pro-Strava) was at the front on a couple of occasions. Logan Loader took a turn in the lead and managed a 4 second gap over chaser Dirk Himley (Echelon/Charity of Choice); the race went grupo compacto on the next lap.
As officials started the laps count down, Gil again lead the field. However, next time through there was a break of 11 to 12 racers. Racers started dropping off leaving Stephen Vogel (Wake Forest University), Hillier, Himley, and Julian Martinez (Fremont Bank Cycling Team) in the break along with Brian Heneghan (SJBC), Dean LaBerge, and Diego Garavito (Village Peddler). Back in the main field were Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro-Strava) and Logan Loader. With the race coming down to its final laps, Hutcheson made attempts to bridge even with Hillier in the break.
Hutcheson finally reached the break on his second attempt with one to go. So did Loader and the compact Exergy racer wound it up for the sprint win. “Finally with one lap to go I jumped across to [the break],” described Loader of the final lap, “Once I went, the field brought us back and we [were] caught with half a lap to go. I went again with a third of a lap to go and took it to the line.” Joshua Carling (Michael David Winery Cycling Team) secured second place ahead of Hutcheson in third and Hillier in fourth. Fifth place went to Gregory White (Davis Bike Club Race Team).