My apologies for the late posting, but sometimes work can really cut into my free time. Anyway, two weekends ago the Sho-Air/Sonance Juniors were once again at it, racing and representing our club proudly - Fri-Sun at the Callville Bay Classic stage race in Lake Mead, Nevada, Sat. at the LAVRA Omnium in Carson, and Sunday at the Ontario #1 criterium. Let’s start with the stage race…
Callville Bay Classic Stage Race – Feb. 26-28
Several of our juniors trekked out to Nevada just outside Las Vegas to compete in the three day Callville Bay Classic stage race. The Lake Mead recreational area served as a picturesque backdrop for the weekend’s race events, as temps ranged from the low 50-70’s, with occasional showers. For the juniors the stage race consisted of a 3.4 mile prologue time trial on Friday, then a road race ranging anywhere from 27 miles (M13/14 & M15/16), or 55 miles (M17/18), or 45 miles (MCat-5) on Saturday, and finally a 30 minute criterium around a ½ mile circuit on Sunday – providing multiple opportunities for stage wins.
Stage 1 – Time Trail: Friday (starting at 12 PM) – Racers warmed up as they prepared for the challenging 3.4 mile uphill TT – it starts off with a rolling half mile section then begins heading upwards at about 2%, increasing steadily to a maximum grade of 7%, and then heads downwards towards the finish line at about 4% for the last ¼ mile.
M 13/14 (field of 14): Doug Hall and Nathan Rico were near the front of the starting order, and would put in their best effort on their regular road bikes. Nathan had the advantage of having raced Callville the year before so knew the course, and came in with a goal of shaving two minutes off his previous year’s time - he accomplished just that by taking a whopping 02:22 off of last year’s (15:24) to finish with a time of 13:06. He exceeded his goal and it was good enough to tie with another racer for 8th in the GC. Next to go was Doug who’s only been racing for a short time, but has already showed talent on the bike and the heart of a true competitor. He was one of the last 13/14 juniors to launch and set a fast tempo right from the start; along the course he managed to quickly catch his 30 second man and by the time he was done had passed 2 more racers. Doug clocked in with a time of 11:26... just 1 second faster than 2nd place, but it was good enough for the stage win and 1st place in the GC. Great job Doug...
M 15/16 (field of 22): Michael Shein, Taylor Tongate and Kyle Torres were next to go in the starting order. This time Michael and Kyle had the advantage of having raced Callville before and were both looking to take around 1:30-2:00 minutes off their previous year’s time. Using his road bike Michael took 01:49 off of last year’s time (12:58) to clock in a 11:09; good enough for 8th place. Taylor was next to go and used his road bike to clock in a 13:15 time to put him in 19th overall. Kyle opted for his TT bike and set a blistering pace catching many riders on the climb, and was able to take 1:59 off of last year’s result (11:50) to clocked in with a stunning 9:51! Let me put this in perspective folks… this would have put 15-year old Kyle right in the middle (33rd) of the 69 rider M Pro-1-2 field. This was plenty good for the 1st place and GC lead...
M 17/18 (field of 17): Kevin McQuaid, Hunter Grove and Chris Wyman were part of the next group to start. Neither had raced Callville and would all be using their regular road bikes for the TT. Kevin was first and clocked in with a respectable 11:09 that would put him in 11th place. Next was Hunter who set a blistering pace, catching several riders that had left before him – and just like Kyle clocked in a junior’s-best 9:51 time to also take the stage win and the GC lead. Finally it was Chris’ turn to launch; he improved on Kevin’s performance by just two seconds and finished with a time of 11:07 to claim 10th overall in the GC. Great effort guys...
M Cat-5 (field of 50): Given that there usually aren’t many U23 category races, 18 year old Jason signed up for his last race as a Cat-5 before he upgrades to Cat-4. Jason was the last of the team to launch and put in a solid ride to finish 34th in the 50 man field with a time of 12:24. So for those keeping track Sho-Air/Sonance Juniors entered 4 race categories and came away with 3 stage wins and the corresponding GC leads! Not bad for a non-elite team with a relatively young history... great work guys!
Stage 2 – Road Race: Saturday – The road course started with the same climb used for the time trial event, plus additional mileage to complete the 27, 45 and 55 mile loops depending on the race category. With the previous day’s TT results posted the juniors began strategizing on how they would protect their leads, or put time on key competitors to try to move up in the rankings.
M Cat-5 (7:20 AM) – 45 miles: Though listed as a 39 mile race, it was confirmed by both a cycling computer and map-my-ride software that the men’s Cat-5 race was in fact 45 miles in distance, not a huge discrepancy but hey… you want to lay claim to every mile you had to climb, sprint and fight for position for. Jason hung for the better part of the race with the main peloton, but about 2/3 into the course got dropped with a handful of other racers to finish 32nd.
M 17/18 (7:30 AM) – 55 miles: Kevin McQuaid, Hunter Grove and Chris Wyman were the first junior group off in the morning. Looking to protect his GC lead and possibly increase it, Hunter would be riding at the front covering any attacks and see if he could get into a successful breakaway. At about mile 25 an SC Velo rider several places down in the standings, but who’s developed a reputation as a sort of breakaway specialist went off the front. Hunter figured they would stand a chance at staying away so he got on his wheel - with Sho-Air/Sonance and SC Velo having 1/3 of the 17 riders in the field, there was no reason for them to give chase and they worked to slow the pace down. In concert Hunter and the SC Velo rider in the break worked together to steadily increase their lead as well. The two came into the final 1/2 mile stretch with no sign of the peloton in sight; grateful for the help and the additional time to his GC lead, Hunter told the other rider that he would not contest the sprint – he crossed the finish line in 2nd, and increased his GC lead on the field by at least 3:44. Back in the main peloton the sprinters had grown impatient and began working together to weed out as many riders as they could before sprinting for 3rd. Kevin wound up the stage in 8th, and Chris finished in 10th to round out the Sho-Air/Sonance results.
M 13/14 & 15/16 (7:40 AM) – 27 miles: The 15/16 and 13/14 riders had a combined start so it would be Doug Hall, Nathan Rico, Michael Shein, Taylor Tongate and Kyle Torres lining up as a team to thwart attacks, and protect their two #1 GC spots. For Doug and Nathan the strategy would be to stay with the 15/16 group and look for a breakaway to get into; they knew if they could hang with the older boys eventually a selection would be made and they could move up in the standings. Less than a mile into the race, not wanting to get caught at the back during an attack, Nathan moved over to the right shoulder and made his way up the peloton. As he came upon a rider who wasn’t holding a steady line he called out “on your right” - almost on queue the rider swung wide and pushed Nathan off the shoulder and into the gravel. Trying to make a quick recovery Nathan steered back to the shoulder, but caught the lip of the asphalt with his front wheel and he went over the handlebars and landed his back. The train was leaving the station and Nathan knew he better get back on quick or else it would be game-over. He regrouped; got back on the bike and with adrenaline super-charging through his body he went full-throttle. In pro-like fashion Taylor who’d witnessed the crash dropped back and soft pedaled until Nate made contact; he then helped pulled Nate back up to the main field as attacks were starting to be launched off the front. Having dodged a bullet the Sho-Air/Sonance juniors rolled over the top of the climb and out to the main road where they hung a left and went for another 12 miles before hitting the turnaround point. Michael Shein led for the better part of this section, helping to control the pace and protect his 15/16 GC leader, Kyle. There would be at least one more crash taking out a few more riders, and others would simply drop due to the fast pace. Shortly after the turnaround, Doug our 13/14 GC leader, began to get into a bit of trouble as he headed up one of the last long climbs; he had fallen slightly off the back, maintaining pace with the peloton, but unable to close the small gap. The main field rolled over the top of the climb and riders from other teams went to the front and gassed it hard on the down grade. Before Doug knew it the gap had grown from 3-4 seconds, to about 10 seconds and he was caught out in no-man’s-land. He rode bravely for about 4-5 miles staying 50-100 yards behind the main field, but the pace wasn’t slowing and he was unable to get any closer. Eventually the peloton sensed the race was nearing the finish and really started drilling it at the front… leaving Doug, Taylor and several more riders behind in its wake. As they hit the ½ mile to go sign, the throttle went wide-open and Michael who had done the lion’s share of work at the front began to lose contact. Joining him was Nathan; however still not done helping his teammates Michael worked one last time and helped Nathan cross the finish line just ahead of another 13/14 racer he was trying to put time on. Eventually all Sho-Air/Sonance Junior’s made it across the finish line safely and in the 15/16 standings Kyle defended his 1st place GC lead with a 6th place finish in the main field. Michael crossed the line 20 seconds back in 18th and Taylor finished 20th. In the M 13/14 group Nathan also finished 20 seconds back in 5th and Doug who probably only made one tactical mistake the whole race finished in 7th, but 01:38 back from the main field and out of the GC lead. Its worth mentioning that the combined field completed the 27 mile course, which included about 1400’ of climbing, in just over one hour making for an average speed of 24.7 mph… a fast pace by any measure.
As the temperatures dropped and the clouds opened up with a light drizzle the juniors headed back to their RVs, hotel rooms and house boats to shower and recover for tomorrow afternoon’s crit. At the end of Stage-2 team Sho-Air/Sonance had successfully retained 2 of the 3 GC leader jerseys after a tough day of competitive racing.
Stage 3 – Criterium: Sunday – Rested and relaxed from a night out in Vegas, the juniors got ready for a 6-turn crit course - offering up about 22 feet elevation gain/loss per lap racers circled clockwise over a rough surfaced parking lot that served as winter home for about a dozen dry-docked houseboats. Most of the juniors raced in the afternoon and by then there was a stiff tailwind that aided racers on the final straightaway, but wreaked havoc everywhere else on the course.
M Cat-5 (9:15 AM) – 30 minutes: Feeling a little fatigued and the effects of a sinus infection from several weeks ago, Jason’s mission was just to finish with the group and try to maintain his overall position in the GC. Many Cat-5 racers gassed it right from the start, making for an especially fast race that saw several racer come off the back early. With only a few laps left to go Jason was feeling the effects of 3 days of tough racing and lost contact with the main field - he finished 48 seconds down on the peloton in 31st place, which gave him a final GC standing of 32nd overall. Nice work Jason...
M 13/14 & M 15/16 (2:20 AM) – 30 minutes: In the combined 13/14 and 15/16 field there were really two races - Doug who had lost the top GC spot the day before was looking to redeem himself and get into a break; whereas Kyle’s objective was just the opposite, to ensure no one high in the GC standings got into a successful breakaway. His lead was only 16 seconds over 2nd and 24 seconds over 3rd so every attack had to be viewed as a potential threat. Almost from the start the breakaways came fast and furious in the 15/16 group, first with an attack from the birthday boy, Brian Galvin, then another from 2nd place GC man Erik Volotzky. They both let Kyle know that there would be no victory laps until after the race was over, and that he’d have to fight tooth and nail for his win. Kyle responded by quickly covering these attacks and staying at the front of the peloton and patrolling for any other threats… he would have his work cut out for him today.
In the 13/14 group Doug was looking for the race to settle into a comfortable pace, and then launch an attack in hopes of catching the group by surprise. About 4 laps into the crit there was a sprint for a prime-prize and it was right after this that there was a lull in the action. The 13/14s wound through a couple of turns up to the upper parking lot section were the group slowed, up a medium grade, and that’s when Doug took a header off the front of the group. The top three GC leaders were slow to react, but eventually gave chase. However it wasn’t enough to catch him, the best they could do was match his pace for about a lap and then backed off the throttle half-hoping Doug would putter out. However, the previous day’s disappointment was still fresh in his memory and Doug was looking for redemption – a minute and 36 seconds is a lot of time to try to make up in a crit on a GC leader, but he was going to give it his best shot. Lap by lap his lead grew from 8 sec, to 12 sec, to 17 sec, to 22 seconds on the main field - the leaders in the 13/14 field were starting to look worried as they were getting updates from their supports that Doug’s lead was growing. The top three racers knew they would have to forget about saving themselves for the bunch sprint for 2nd place, and start driving the train if they wanted to keep their current podium spots safe from Doug’s one-man assault. The chase group started working harder than ever and in the process dropped several racers in a last ditch effort to try to close Doug’s increasing lead. But as crit races go, 30 minutes can fly by fast when the action starts to get interesting, and before everyone knew it there were only 2 laps to go.
Back in the 15/16 group Kyle was working overtime keeping an eye on the usual suspects, as well as surprise attacks from lesser known riders. However, he wasn’t taking any chances and with very little help from other teams, chased everything down that came off the front – he hung with the top sprinters until the very end and then let them contest for the final sprint. As he rolled across the finish line in 8th place, Kyle retained the yellow jersey to secure his second GC win this season - and who managed to catch the main field of 15/16s, well it was none other than Doug who single handily lapped several 13/14 riders and blew up the remainder of his age group’s field. By the time he crossed the finish line he must have put some 45-50 seconds on the lead group of 13/14 riders, however as is typical with many Junior races the judges don’t always get it right. Riders came streaming across the finish line for the next 2 minutes with 15/16 and 13/14 riders mixed in with one another, and in the end Doug got the stage win, but was only awarded a 12 second lead when in reality it was much greater than that. He needed to cut 56 seconds into 3rd place’s lead to get on the podium; by our calculations he had some 50 seconds on him, plus another 10 second bonus for the stage win. However it was not to be and there was no arguing with the judges about it… the results would stay as they were. Still his family and teammates knew what a great effort Doug had put in, and in the end that was all that mattered. His second stage victory and additional time gained on the field was good enough to move Doug up into 4th place in the GC. Great racing Kyle and Doug... In the 15/16 field Michael finish 14th and Taylor came in 20th, and Nathan rounded out the 13/14 results with a 9th place finish - still feeling sore from the previous day’s crash in the road race.
M 17/18 (3:00 AM) – 30 minutes: Right after the combined 13/14, 15/16 race was over it was the 17/18\'s turn to try to unseat Hunter\'s #1 GC standing. Hunter came in with a substantial lead after the previous day\'s performance where he put almost 4 minutes on the most of the field. However, just as with Kyle\'s race there would be no gimme laps as most of the 17/18 riders figured they had nothing to lose, so took every chance to attack and try catch him sleeping. Hunter was ready though, and covered most every attack as soon as a wheel launched off the front. For Hunter the task was a bit simpler as there was only one group out on the crit course at a time, and the field was smaller than the combined race. Still there was no resting as he had to stay vigilant and work hard the entire 30 minutes of racing that remained. During the closing laps a group of four made a committed effort to break away and contest the sprint amongst them, and Hunter went right with them. The group of five sped away from the rest of the field and rotated threw the pace line at least twice to ensure they had a sufficient gap on the main peloton. On the final straight they revved up the RPMs and bunch came across the finish line with Hunter in 3rd place and securing his overall GC victory and second stage-race win this year.
In the end it was a very successful weekend of racing with Sho-Air/Sonance Juniors taking 2 GC Victories, 4 Stage Wins, and 6 Top-Ten GC spots total... better than any other Junior team that raced that weekend. Here are the final standings:
M 13-14 Group:
M 15-16 Group:
M 17-18 Group:
M Cat-5 Group:
Great individual performances and fantastic teamwork to everyone who raced at Callville.