Impressive Racing at Cat's Hill

6 May 2012

Cat's Hill Criterium

Yesterday's Mike's Bikes Cat's Hill Classic Criterium, presented by the Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club, exhibited bicycle racing in grand fashion. Nineteen-year-old James LaBerge (Team Mike's Bikes) won his second Men Pro-1-2 race of the 2012 NCNCA Premier Series, and his third win in three starts. The Women 1-2-3 put on a tough race with Jasmin Hurikino (Vanderkitten-Focus) emerging victorious. And, in the race for Master Men, Chris Phipps ( put in a terrific effort to lead out a three racer breakaway only to succumb to Andres Gil (Michael David Winery Cycling Team) on the last lap.

Master Men 45+ and 35+ 1-2-3
This was a combined-field race with some renowned NorCal racers including Larry Nolan (Team Specialized Racing Masters) and Gannon Myall (California Giant Cycling). Dean LaBerge (Team Specialized Racing Masters) led the field around the final turn on the first lap but it was Chris Phipps that put in early attacks. Phipps continued to stay out front and then led out a three-racer break with Jason Walker (Team Specialized Racing Masters) and Andres Gil. This break built up a lead of 24 seconds with two to go. "I have to take my hat off to Chris Phipps", commented Gil, "He kept the momentum all the time going, going and going."
It was Gil that turned the final corner in the sprint to the finish and was able to hold off Walker for the win for Master Men 35+ 1-2-3. "It was pretty much like moto pacing, just punching up the hill, waiting for the end, and making the right move." continued Gil, "It was just riding smart more than anything else and having the legs." Phipps took a distant, and probably disappointing, third. Patrick Briggs (Sierra Pacific Racing p/b Dayka and Hackett) finished fourth with Jeromy Cottell (Peninsula Velo Racing) in fifth.
Kevin Klein (HDR Racing p/b Lombardi Sports) was the winner, for Master Men 45+ 1-2-3, ahead of Mike Pugh (Davis Bike Club Race Team) in second and Larry Nolan in third. Fourth place went to Scott Leahy (SJBC) with Don Langley (Team Specialized Racing Masters) earning a fifth place finish.

Women 1-2-3
Three teams, Metromint Cycling, Steven's Bikes p/b Pactimo, and Vanderkitten-Focus, fielded six or more racers in a field of thirty for this race. However, the early leader was the lone SportVelo Racing rider, Rebecca "Wombat" Werner. The first break came from the Vanderkitten-Focus pair of Jasmin Hurikino and Emily Collins. This grew to four racers as Marley Smith (Steven's Bikes p/b Pactimo) and Kate Chilcott (Vanderkitten-Focus) joined Hurikino and Collins up front.
After Chilcott fell back, the field eventually caught the break setting up an attack by Jennifer Reither (Vanderkitten-Focus) with three to go. At this late stage, the field was not going to let this go as Kira Prokopakis (Los Gatos) led the charge up to Reither. Hurikino then came around the last corner for the final lap with an insurmountable gap and took her second win in three years for this race. Hurikino said, "I got back in and gave it my all in the last lap; it worked out well for the team." Vanderkitten-Focus team mate Emily Collins was second with Rebecca Werner finishing third. Marissa Axell (Touchstone Climbing) came home fourth ahead of Nicole Justice (Steven's Bikes p/b Pactimo) in fifth.

Men Pro-1-2
Although there was a fair amount of attrition in this race, the field stuck in there and refused to let anyone get away. Several racers took turns leading the race. A few made breakaway attempts including Alton Dunnigan (Fremont Bank Cycling Team), Patrick Briggs, and fifteen-year-old Jack Maddux (Team Specialized Racing Juniors). John Wilk (Webcor/Alto Velo) was the last in the list of breakaway attempts but the field was "grupo compacto" with four laps remaining. On the last lap, Rand Miller (California Giant/Specialized) was out front going into turn 1 to help his team mates, Benjamin Swedberg and Jared Barrilleaux.
However, it was James LaBerge (Team Mike's Bikes) rounding the final corner in the all-important first place for the sprint. LaBerge was able to hold off Swedberg and Barrilleaux to win the race. "It was really hard, a lot of guys were attacking all day," said LaBerge, "We had some trouble as a team following the attacks all day. Once you [get around] that last turn first or second wheel you have the best chance to win." Swedberg took second with Barrilleaux in third. Chuck Hutcheson (Marc Pro-Starva) was in on the sprint and finished in fourth place whilst Tyler Brandt came home in the fifth spot.

All-in-all, it was a great day of racing as one local youngster said at the end of the day, simply, "Wow!"

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