McDonald’s Downtown Grand Prix Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic Presented by Mercy Medical Center Merced – 3 March 2012
Top notch racing took place today in Merced as the Men P/1/2 and Women P/1/2/3 raced the Grand Prix on the third day of the Merco Cycling Classic. In the Women’s race attacks came almost every lap of the race where in the Men’s race breakaway were shut down by Bissell Pro Cycling who waited to execute their strategy.
The Women’s race started at a terrific pace and a large group of racers dropped of the back and were pulled very early. Breakaway attempts started to come come almost one after the other. First to attack was Clara Hughes (Specialized-lululemon) then Ina-Yoko Tuetenberg (Specialized-lululemon) took a turn. Kristin Armstrong (Exergy Twenty 12) was the next followed by Hughes again. And so the race continued as other racers also took a spell off the front.
At five to go there a promising five-racer breakaway formed that included with Pascale Schnider (Exergy Twenty 12), Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty 12), Olivia Dillon (NOW and Novartis for MS), Loren Rowney (specialized-lululemon), and Joelle Numainville (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). Even this attempt was caught one lap later and the race headed to a field sprint. Hughes and Armstrong continued to show their faces in the front but it was Tuetenberg that pulled off the win in the sprint.
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Specialized-lululemon) wins the Grand Prix over Joelle Numainville (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
Numainville finished a close second followed by Leah Kirchman (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) in third, and Coryn Rivera (Exergy Twenty 12) in fourth. Armstrong came home in fifth place and retains the Omnium lead by one point over Numainville and five points ahead of Hughes in third. Kirchman and Janel Holcomb (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) round out the top five a further two points down.
In the Men’s P/1/2 race, it was California Giant/Specialized team that was up front early, with James Mattis and Nate Wilson putting their noses in the wind to protect race leader Evan Huffman. The first attack came on lap three with Jesse Reams (Hagens Berman Cycling) and Brandon Trafton (Full Circle Cycling powered by Pure Gear) leading the charge but this was caught by the field quickly. Austin Carroll (Simple Green Bike Religion) and Bryan Larsen (Stage 17 Racing) were the next to attack but, again, they were caught by the field. California Giant/Specialized worked well as a team, filling the front of the pack, keeping Huffman out of trouble and the race fast, in their bright-red kit.
After Tyler Brandt (Team Mike’s Bikes) and Jos Le Roux (Simple Green Bike Religion) had a go at the front, the California Giant/Specialized team again brought the field back together. Race announcer Dave Towle called it the “Cal Giant Train” as the bright red engine moved past start-finish. Brandt took another shot at getting away, but after he was swallowed up and the field closed back up, it was the BISSELL Pro Cycling team out front taking control of the race. Despite a few break attempts by one or two other racers and a late race crash mid-field, BISSELL continued to control the race from 15 laps to go until the end of the race.
As the race came down the final stretch Patrick Bevin (BISSELL Pro Cycling) again won the field sprint, adding to his win at the MID RR in this years edition of the Merco Cycling Classic. “Today, I was the designated man,” said Bevin, “I’ve got good legs and the team put a lot of faith in me. The BISSELL train set up nice and early and kept me out of trouble. It was very satisfying to finish the job off in the bunch kick.” Bevin goes into tomorrow’s Hilltop Ranch Road Race wearing the yellow jersey and was confident, “I raced [the course] last year. I’m looking forward to it and confident that the team’ is strong and I’m riding well enough to defend the jersey.”
Patrick Bevin (BISSELL Pro Cycling) wins the sprint again at the Merco Cycling Classic
Ken Hanson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) finished today’s race in second while local NorCal star Logan Loader (Team Exergy) finished third in the sprint. Loader, who is sitting in fourth overall summed up the race, “Really the sprint started with three laps to go. There were three teams fighting over the leadout. We had our boys up there but we were sitting back and letting Optum and BISSELL fight it out.”
In the General Classification, Loader sits 23 seconds behind race leader Bevin, along with Team Exergy mate Serghei Tvetcov. Perennial favorite Tom Zirbel (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) is second overall with a 22 second deficit. Bevin’s hefty lead and the apparent dominance of the BISSELL team make it look like the red and white boys will be in a strong position for a good showing in the Hilltop race and the GC.