Sun-Soaked Wente Road Race
Wente Vineyards Classic Road Race
30 April 2012
Racing at Saturday's Wente Road Race was a feast for the eyes on a beautiful, sunny day. Although many fields were strung out on the taxing course, there were a couple of brave long breakaway attempts foiled by remarkable racing to determine the outcome of the race.
Master Men 45+ 1-2-3
Cale Reeder (Echelon Gran Fondo/Charity of Choice) slayed his achilles' heel of a course with a determined win. During the race, Chris Courtney (SJBC) and Reeder's team mate Steve Heaton got away on a break that lasted almost the entire race. "Our plan was to just set a really high pace," said Heaton, "I knew my team mate would be up at some point. I was basically trying to go as hard as we could to make everybody work and have him [Reeder] get a ride up." In his description of the race, Reeder said "My team mate went off from the gun and stayed out for 4 laps. Then one of the guys attacked and bridged across. I sat on his wheel and we bridged up to 'em. Then the whole field caught us, or what was left of the field. And we just duked it out for the finish." On the strength of Heaton's lead out and his own determination, Reeder won the sprint by a few bike lengths. "Three of us got away from the field at the bottom of the climb and I took the sprint. Pretty simple," continued Reeder, "I love this course. This has actually been my achilles' heel. I've never done well at this race, always wanted to win it. For week's I've been saying I want to win this race." Heaton confirmed at least a month of e-mail messages regarding Reeder's resolve.
Master Men 35+ 1-2-3
Taking his second series win of the season, Andres Gil (Michael David Winery Cycling Team) continues his superb record for the 2012 NCNCA Bikereg.com Premier Series. "It was pretty smooth [early], nothing really happened. I attacked on the backside and then went clear for a lap and a half." said Gil, "Then I was caught by three guys [and] we were caught on the last lap. Everybody came together at the end and it was just a dash for the finish." Gil took won the sprint by a good margin over Ken Gallardo (IronDataThirstyBearCycling.com). Jan Weissenberger (GNARLUBE/LANDSHARK Racing) finished in third place, Jason Grefrath (Lange Twins Family Winery p/b Great Basin) in fourth, and Michael Buckley (Morgan Stanley/Specialized) in fifth.
Steven's Bikes presented by Pactimo were off and racing right from the start with Marley Smith taking an early lead; by the second lap, team mate Heather Van Sickle made it a two-racer breakaway. Beth Newell (NOW and Novartis for MS) put in an almighty effort, behind Smith and Van Sickle, to bridge to the leaders. It was Newell's second attempt on the last lap, along with Alison Tetrick (Exergy Twenty12), that did succeed. However, the winner came from even further behind as Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling) brought up another group shortly before the uphill sprint. After some tactical waiting, Devon Gorry (NOW and Novartis for MS) was sprinting up the final stratch and took a look behind her, "I thought I was going to pop off but when I had that gap it was a little extra motivation." Gorry took the win ahead of Newell in second and Tetrick in third. Fourth went to Nicole Justice (Steven's Bikes p/b Pactimo). Van Sickle made it home in fifth place after racing out front with Smith for half the race on a difficult course.
John Piasta (Team Mike's Bikes) and Keith Hillier (Marc Pro-Starva) took off early in this race. Their gap to the rest of the field grew beyond 2 minutes at one point. Behind them, racers stretched out and failed to put in any significant attempt to bridge up. Team Mike's Bikes racers were always toward the front of the chase and seemingly, at the bell, it looked as though an organized attempt to reel-in Hillier and Piasta was not forthcoming. However, during that final circuit around the course, racers from behind the first chase group bridged up. The momentum continued with Hillier and Piasta finally caught within 5 miles of the finish. Track racer Austin Carroll (Full Circle Cycling powered by Pure Gear) sat biding his time, "I just let the two teams work around, watched everything. Toward the finish line [I] gave a little punch and got it." Carroll took the win by a good 10-bike lengths over Spencer Collum (Marc Pro-Starva). "I bridged with him," said Collum, about Carroll, "Up the climb I gave a little surge and he [Carroll] was right there. I couldn't get myself off the front, kind of was committed with about 500-out. [Then] he came around, had more left, and that was that." James Mattis secured third place for California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized. Eric Riggs (Team Mike's Bikes) aided his team's cause in the Premier Series by finishing fourth. Fifth place went to Keith Hillier.