Fourth of July Davis Criterium
Just west of Sacramento, Davis is a city that always had an emphasis on cycling – both casually and competitively. Whereas in previous years the course was a figure eight, racers had to travel in a more traditional “L” shape, with 5 right hand turns and 1 left hand turn. Despite the scorching hot weather predicted, droves of spectators were present throughout the day. Thankfully, many nearby coffee shops and eateries were open to provide air conditioning and refreshments.
In the 45/55+ 1/2/3 field, the peloton saw several early solo breaks that never quite stuck, including Bob Delp (Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s), Kevin Klein (Primetime Cycling), and Ron Rouse (Rio Strada Racing). There eventually was a break consisting of pairs of riders from Primetime and ZipZ, as well as Michael O’Rouke (Bicycles Plus/Safeway), Dirk Himley (Hammer Nutrition), and Craig Roemer (Team Specialized). Delp and several others did try to bridge the gap in a fierce chase, but in the end a reduced group of the aforementioned 8 down to 6 made a pack sprint to the finish, with Michael O’Rouke (Bicycles Plus/Safeway) taking the top spot on the podium.
The 35+ 1/2/3 field quickly shattered into several groups from the gun. With a break of Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s Jason Boynton and Judd Van Sickle along with Curt Mills (Data Driven Athlete), Dirk Himley (Hammer Nutrition, and racing several times throughout the day) and Daniel Vigil (Team Mike’s Bikes), the break would grow to include Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava) as well as Nick Theobald (Bicycles Plus/Safeway). The final lap saw a very heated face-off between Van Sickle and Hutcheson to the line, with the black, yellow, and green (Hutcheson) crossing the yellow tape first.
Big names were present in the women’s P/1/2/3, and the all star cast would be compounded by the appearance of the NOW/Novartis team, with 2013 Irish National Champion Olivia Dillon, team captain and former U.S. National Road Race Champion Robin Farina, and 2013 Pan Am Scratch Champion Beth Newell. Not to be outdone, the team was met with equal competition from regional talent as well: former world TT champion Molly Van Houweling (Metromint), 2013 District TT Champion Alison Tetrick of Exergy TWENTY16, last week’s Lodi Cyclefest winner Martina Patella, and finally local talent (and 2012 Women’s 35+ District Champion) Mary Maroon (Steven’s Bicycles Racing).
With a few solo attacks by Metromint, the NOW/Novartis team quickly gained control of the field, with Farina soloing off the front once Metromint’s solo flyers were caught. Van Houweling (Metromint), Amy Chandos (Folsom Bike/Cervelo), and a Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 rider would put in a valiant effort to try to catch Farina, but without success. Starnes, Maroon, and Pinnacle could be seen at the front of the pack during these laps as Farina kept a consistent gap of a few seconds ahead of anyone else. The spectators at the finish line would see a fierce sprint-off between Dillon, Maroon, and Patella, with Maroon’s bike throw barely edging out Dillon, and Patella taking 4th.
Amongst the start list for the men’s Pro/1/2 field, there were two that stood out. One was Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Jamis Hagens Berman) and the other USA Cycling Professional Road National Championship Freddie Rodriguez of Jelly Belly Cycling. Other noteworthy names to on the list included both Max Jenkins and Nate English of 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda Pro Cycling. The regional racing teams Marc-Pro/Strava, Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase, and local teams Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada as well as Davis Bike Racing were present as well, among others.
Spectators would see attacks in the opening laps by riders such as Nate Theobald (Bicycles Plus/Safeway), Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava), and Brandon Trafton (Mike’s Bike’s p/b Incase). Trafton could be seen on the front of the peloton as well as on his own off the front throughout the opening laps of the race. The selection began about 20 minutes into the race, with Fremont Bank Cycling Team’s Adam Ross started to gain a gap after the first turn. From there Andres Gil (Michael David Winery) made an attack to also gain a gap, and then panic started to settle in, as other riders began to put in efforts to get up the road. An attack by Hutcheson 10 minutes later would add more fuel to the fire, he would be joined by Josh Carling (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), Rob Evans (Bear Development Team) and AJ Kennedy (VuMedi p/b Lombardi Sports). The field would work together to bring this break back, however.
With the lap cards finally showing and less than 10 minutes to go, a second break initiated by an attack by Carling began to form. Being chased down by Jacques-Maynes, English, and Hutcheson, the three would catch and pass Carling, with Evans, Kennedy, and new-to-the-break riders David Grundman (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada) as well as Chris Baker (Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s) in tow. In a matter of one minute, English and Baker would separate from that group in what would be the winning break. Despite efforts to bridge by Himley, Evans, Gil, and teams Marc-Pro/Strava as well as Mike’s Bikes on the front of the main pack, English would cross the finish line first with Baker in tow, with the rest of the podium spots filled by a photo finish of bike throws by Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase teammates Adam Switters and Dana Williams, as well as Hutcheson, who would occupy the rest of the spots on the podium.