Menlo Park Gran Prix
At the 8th Annual Menlo Park (that almost didn’t make it due to funding, but was rescued due to funding from KitOrder.com), the day started out rather chilly. The L-shaped course spans for over a mile, consisting of five left hand turns and one final right hand turn into the straightaway leading to the finish. As a NCNCA Women’s Series, Premiere Series, and Elite/Master’s State Championship Race, the appeal would be sure to attract athletes aiming for overall series points.
Looking at the start list, Mike’s Bikes and Marc-Pro/Strava were the two local teams that had the numbers, mixed with several smaller teams. Other individuals that stood out aside from those of the two prominent teams: Phil Mooney (Jamis Hagens Berman), Nate English (5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda), Craig Roemer (Team Specialized Racing Masters) and Patrick Briggs (PrimeTime Cycling), who had won the 45+ 1/2/3 field in the San Rafael Twilight Criterium the day before.
As the race was underway, English could be seen near or on the front with each lap, regardless of if there was a flyer off the front or not.
Several attempts to form a bridge ensured, involving familiar individuals such as Briggs, Roman Kilun (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase), Shawn Rosenthal (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase), and Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava). However, they were all mostly individual solos that didn’t last.
As the lap cards came out, Rob Evans (Bear Development Team) and Tyler Brandt (Get Crackin’) could be seen along the backside of the course with a sizeable gap. The two would work together as well as gain a few passengers along the way. All the while, a charging field could always be seen a few scant seconds away from catching up to the two.
In the final bell lap, Evans and Brandt were caught by the field, which included powerhouses Chris Phipps (ThirstyBear Cycling) and Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava). When the field came around the final bend into the straightaway to the finish line, James Laberge (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) could be seen charging off of teammate Dana William’s leadout and held the top position amongst the raging field to secure the top spot on the podium.
In the women’s Pro race, spectators would notice the abundance of blue colors throughout the start line, as MetroMint had a sizeable contingent. Other colors of the peloton included the yellow stripes of Pinnacle p/b Argon 18 and the black multi colored kits of Vanderkitten. Of all the women in the field, though, two blond-haired women stood out – Alison Tetrick and Kimberly Wells of Exergy TWENTY16. The two had competed the previous day in the women’s pro field, where 2012 winner Tetrick handed off the champion’s belt to her teammate Wells.
The initial laps saw MetroMint covering the front with each lap, with Molly Van Houweling leading the charge. The team would be at the front and also had the numbers to send off flyers every now and then for others to chase.
As the laps went by, two things were evident: Starla Teddergreen (Vanderkitten) and the Tetrick/Wells duo were aiming for being near the front. With each passing lap, both Tetrick as well as Wells would be seen very close to the front, with Teddergreen close behind. The two from Exergy TWENTY16 would partake in chasing down a few breaks, as well as being part of a break – but only one at a time, while the other would stay in the main pack.
At the start of the bell lap, Tetrick launches off the front, with a main pack led by Van Houweling and several of the Metromint women closely behind. Within the lapse of one lap, as the crowd watched from the sidelines as Tetrick emerged surging towards the finish with Wells closely following, while Teddergreen took a wider turn into the straightaway. Tetrick crossed the line, head down, with teammate Wells in the same victory pose as she had the previous day crossing the line in San Rafael.
In the 35+ 1/2/3 field, there was a mix of big names – Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava), Rob Evans (Bear Development Team, who had gone on a break for several laps in the men’s P/1/2 field just before), Andres Gil (Michael David Winery), Nick Theobald (Safeway/PureRED/Bicycles Plus) and Chris Phipps (ThirstyBear Cycling), amongst others. It was anybody’s game.
Regardless, the Safeway/PureRED/Bicycles Plus team was very active in covering the front of the race, chasing down flyers and being part of all the action.
However Evans would once again prove his immense strength and bravely went off the front with Hutcheson, Gil, and Kyle Glerum (Safeway/PureRED/Bicycles Plus) in what became a four man break.
With the break gaining considerable ground on the field, several would unsuccessfully attempt to bridge, with the main peloton steadily moving forward with Phipps at the very front.
While the four man break had been working together all this time, all bets were off once the bell rang for the final lap, as seen by Hutcheson’s attack off of the break once the bell rang. Three minutes later, he would reappear, with the team issued yellow Mavic helmet and Oakley green/white sunglasses, riding with a victory salute from the end of the final turn into the straightaway across the line and onto the top spot for the podium with the rest of the peloton crossing the line 10 seconds later.
We pick up halfway into the race, witnessing Glerum (Safeway/PureRED/Bicycles Plus) soloing on his own on the backside with a four man chase several seconds back.
Within the chase group is Kevin Klein of PrimeTime Cycling and Glerum’s teammate, Nick Theobald. Two very strong contenders for the top spot for this field’s podium.
Soon, Theobald and Klein would become the break, with Glerum falling back to the chase, and the main pack nearly twenty seconds behind along the backside of the course.
However, Klein would quickly be by himself, and remained alone for several minutes before the chase consisting of Theobald, teammate Glerum, and riders from Morgan Stanley and Audi, would catch him on the straightaway passing the finish line, only to thin out to Theobald and Klein once again.
The two would work together for the final lap into what would be an uncontested win by Klein with Theobald on his wheel, and the rest of the main peloton arriving nearly twenty seconds later.