2012 Premier Series Approaches Mid-Season
2012 NCNCA Bikereg.com Premier Series 9 June 2012 The twenty-event, 2012 NCNCA Bikereg.com Premier Series began late last February and is about to reach its season's midpoint; the Sattley Time Trial, hosted by the Reno Wheelmen, runs this Sunday, 10 June. The competition amongst Pro-1-2-3 Women is wide open as the 20 points from a race-win cover the top ten racers in this category. Going into the tenth event and second time trial, Heather Van Sickle (Steven's Bike's p/b Pactimo) and Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling) share the series lead. Only Van Houweling may secure points from Sattley; despite its status as the District Time Trial Championships, only five top NCNCA women registered for the event. Steven's Bikes presented by Pactimo lead in the team standings but Metromint Cycling remain in the hunt and within reach, particularly after putting four racers in points-earning positions at the previous event, the Dunlap Memorial Time Trial.
Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling) competing at the Dunlap Time Trial[/caption] For Men Pro-1-2, Marc Pro-Strava's Chuck Hutcheson holds a slim two-point lead over Tyler Brandt (Team Mike's Bikes). Brandt has only been out of the top two spots once this season. The hard-working Hutcheson has had a share of the lead since the middle of April, having never been less than third all season. The pair have a 20-point cushion over third-place James LaBerge (Team Mike's Bikes) and are favoured to battle between each other to decide the ultimate winner. Nevertheless, the standings could easily change their outlook with over half the season's points available. Along with LaBerge, quality racers such as Keith Hillier (Marc Pro-Strava), Rainier Schaefer (Team Mike's Bikes), and Chris Stastny (California Giant/Specialized) are close behind Hutcheson and Brandt. [caption id="attachment_299" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Chuck Hutcheson at Copper Town prior to his swtich to Marc Pro-Strava[/caption] Up to and including Cat's Hill, Team Mike's Bikes put a strangehold on the top spot of the team standings for Men Pro-1-2. The Steve Pelaez-led team accumulated a 71-point lead over NorCal stalwarts California Giant/Specialized. It was a reflection of Team Mike's Bikes numbers and racing ability; the ascending young guns took two wins by teenager LaBerge and always had at least two racers in points-scoring positions. Since Cat's Hill, however, it is the resurgent 'Berries asserting themselves on race matters. California Giant/Specialized racers have more-than doubled the team's points over the last three events of the series, including a sweep of the podium at the Dunlap Time Trial, and brought themselves within ten points of Team Mike's Bikes and the overall lead. Marc Pro-Strava have three racers in the top-ten of the individual standings to secure third place for the team; nevertheless, it remains a massive uphill task for Hutcheson, Hillier, Teeter, and company to participate in the brewing and exciting red versus black team contest between California Giant/Specialized and Team Mike's Bikes.
James LaBerge (Team Mike's Bikes) helped lead his team's early season charge[/caption] Regardless of the outcome for Masters 35+ at the Sattley Time Trial, Andres Gil (Michael David Winery Cycling Team) has had a tremendous first half of a season. Gil showed his quality with wins at Copperopolis, Wente, and Cat's Hill after opening the series with second place at Snelling. By pulling a break around, Chris Phipps (IronDataThirstyBearCycling.com) played a huge role in Gil's Cat's Hill win. Since then it is Phipps showing his caliber culminating with a win at the Dunlap Time Trial to garner a lock on second place. Still 31 points ahead, the category remains Gil's to lose whilst Phipps, Ken Gallardo (IronDataThirstyBearCycling.com), Nick Theobald (SAFEWAY/GA PRC Group/Bicycles Plus), Jonathan Eropkin (SAFEWAY/GA PRC Group/Bicycles Plus), Daniel Bryant (Folsom Bike/Mercedes Benz), and AJ Kennedy (Fremont Bank Cycling Team) could still force Gil to earn the series.
Andres Gil (Michael David Winery Cycling Team) is enjoying a superb first half to the season[/caption] For much of the series earlier this season, Master Men 45+ 1-2-3 remained a wide open competition with unique winners over the first seven events. Kevin Klein (HDR Racing p/b Lombardi Sports) entered the fray at the Santa Cruz Classic, the fourth race of the series, racing to five successive top-four finishes; the string of results includes a win at Cat's Hill where he took over the overall category lead. Another racer to start his tally late, Cale Reeder (Echelon Gran Fondo/Charity of Choice) opened his points campaign with a win at his nemesis event, the Wente Road Race. Reeder became the first multiple winner for the season with his triumph at the Mount Hamilton Classic and then took a third win at the Dunlap Time Trial. Two points separate Klein and Reeder, with the HDR racer still holding the advantage. Of all four categories for the 2012 NCNCA Bikereg.com Premier Series, Klein and Reeder hold the biggest lead over a third place and look to make this a two-racer skirmish.
Cale Reeder (Echelon Gran Fondo/Charity of Choice) to the fore at Wente[/caption] In the second half of the season, there remains a lot to ride for in the 2012 NCNCA Bikereg.com Premier Series. With criteriums accounting for six of the last ten events, changes to the outlook and standings are entirely possible. Some racers themselves have expressed great excitement and interest in the series. Representing the best of Northern California and Northern Nevada, the racing will be well worth anticipating and watching.