37th Annual Cherry Pie Criterium – presented by Eagle Racing Team and Eagle Racing Club Napa, CA – 5 February 2012
It’s early February and road racing in Northern California picks up momentum. The Cherry Pie Crit went off today under excellent California winter weather conditions. The famed P-shaped course had new paving throughout, a full-hairpin turn just after the finish line, a long sweeping left-hand turn, and a chicane that preceded an uphill climb to the finish line.
A 45-racer field showed up to contest the Women Pro/1/2/3 race. Early laps were marred by a crash on the uphill finish straight involving four or five riders. Bethany Allen (Team TIBCO II) suffered the worst and was stretchered off to an ambulance; NorCal Cycling News wishes a speedy recovery to Bethany Allen. For most of the remainder of the race the pack held together until, at six laps remaining, Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten-Focus) set out on a promising break. The 18-year old held the lead for two laps but was caught by Juliette Olson (RED Racing) and then next by Heather Nielson (Touchstone Climbing.) Finally the entire field made contact with less than three laps remaining.
On penultimate lap, Courtney van Dimpel (Vanderkitten-Focus) crossed the finish line in the lead and led the field around the final hairpin. A recovered Winder was sitting at fifth or sixth wheel behind van Dimple ready to make her move. By the time the field came back into view, on the uphill straight, Winder had taken the lead and won the gritty field sprint a short bike-length ahead of last years winner, Pascale Schnider (Exergy Twenty 12). Sunshine Townsend (Team TIBCO II) finished in a close third, Liza Rachetto (Primal/MapMyRide) just missed the final step of the podium, and Anna Barensfeld (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) rounded out the top five.
“I always go into races doing too much, too soon. [This time] 25 minutes into the race [I said] let’s go, let’s start racing.” Said Winder after the race, “Since I hadn’t done so much in the beginning of the race I still had pretty fresh legs [after being caught on the break].” Winder also admitted Van Dimpel’s effort on the penultimate lap helped bring her home.
The young Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten-Focus) holds off challengers on the field sprint
In the Men Pro/1/2 race, several teams were well represented including Team Mike’s Bikes, Webcor/Alto Velo, Team Clif Bar, and California Giant/Specialized. The entire race was characterized by the fields unwillingness to let any break get out of touch. Joe Dickerson (McGuire Cycling Team) and Rand Miller (California Giant/Specialized) made several early break attempts but all attempts were quickly brought pack into the pack. With six laps remaining, there was a crash at the back of the field and the officials reacted by neutralizing the race to the dismay of several riders. At two laps remaining, Team Mike’s Bikes headed the field around the hairpin but the race came down to a field sprint.
Coming up the hill, Sam Bassetti (California Giant/Specialized) worked his way into contention and beat out a bike-throw from Andy Goessling (Team Mike’s Bikes) for the win. Adding to Goessling’s second place, Team Mike’s Bikes team mates Dana Williams and James Laberge took third and fourth, respectively. Charles Hutchinson (McGuire Cycling Team) finished in fifth.
Bassetti complemented his team saying, “I have an awesome team and they were just covering everything all race. All I really had to do was pick the right wheels. [The team can] pretty much be threatening no matter how the race ends. [We have] guys here who are great in the breaks and we have a couple of cards to play in the field sprints. The crash messed things up. Even though it [was] neutralized I got pushed back quite a bit. So, I had to scramble at the end to find the right place to be.”
Head down; Sam Bassetti (California Gant/Specialized) squeaks out a win at the finish line
Complete results for all races at the Cherry Pie event are available at USA Cycling.