Victory to Chris Phipps at Madera Stage Race 2013 with winning support from Ken Gallardo, Phil Hynes and Kyle Ashton
Being just a week after the big time Merco Stage race, the long standing Madera stage race has seen a drop in its masters fields the last couple fields, but we still had a strong 35 rider field show up for the most compact stage race on the calendar.
The small field had several teams of 3 or 4 riders with Mike’s Bikes, Lange Twins, Ritte Racing and Cushman & Wakefield among them. ThirstyBear Cycling was represented by Kyle Ashton, Ken Gallardo, Phil Hynes and me.
Between the start of the stage 1 criterium at 12:50 on Saturday and the finish of the 68 mile stage 3 road race at 10:45 AM on Sunday less than 21 hours elapse. (we lose 1 hour with the time change)
Stage 1 Criterium (40 min): The plan was to be aggressive without going too deep since the TT was just 3 hours later. We attacked a lot but nothing stuck. With 3/4 of a lap to go I attacked with Phil on my wheel and I was hoping we could get something but were swarmed in the final 200M. Steve Heaton (Hammer Nutrition) won the sprint. Phil ended up 12th with me 19th, Kyle 24th & Ken in 28th all finishing with the same time.
Stage 2 TT: 10 miles of flat and good to fair pavement with some pot holes. Velo Bob decided to do something totally wacky this year and run the TT in reverse alphabetical order, so I would be starting 9th in our field and 1st on our team. My 30 sec man was Oliver Ryan from Mike’s who was a good carrot. I felt really good in the TT and ended up catching 5 guys and finished in a PR of 21:20 (& tied Nate English for 3rd on the Strava Segment behind Evan Huffman (now with Astana) & Paul Mach)
We had a great team result with my win, Kyle in 4th, Phil in 5th & Ken in 17th.
Stage 3 Road Race: 68 miles, 4 times a 17 mile mostly flat loop with some rollers and a 3 mile really bumpy section. Sitting in 1st, 4th & 5th in GC was a great position to be in going into the final stage. We figured I would only really be concerned with Brian Choi from Stuzio who was in 2nd and Nick Theobald of Safeway who was in 3rd. If anyone else lower down in GC attacked we would keep it in check or have Kyle or Phil go with it. It was a pretty relaxed 1st lap, then on the rollers a couple guys lower on GC attacked & Ken just went to the front & rode tempo with Jason Grefrath from Lange Twins taking a few hard pulls keeping them within 30 seconds. At the end of the 2nd lap, Nick attacked on the final big roller and I was on his wheel. We quickly caught the 2 man break, but we didn’t too far before the pack had us back. Later that lap a 3 man break got away that I thought had a chance. It was Jacob Berkman from Mike’s along with Levine & Grefrath who had both flatted in the TT, and they were all down over 1:50 in GC, so we didn’t have to chase right away, but the rest of the field worked to pull it back on the bumpy section.
So, we were back together again with Ken at the front pulling us all along at 40+ kph and the three of us sitting on his wheel enjoying the day. Ken was just awesome riding a hard tempo on the front for long stretches for most of the race. On the final lap, we knew the bumpy section would be the place where all the action would happen and sure enough it did with the 4 of us and all the strong guys at the front trying to get away or at least make it hard on everyone else. About 5 miles from the finish, I went to the front and went hard for a few seconds and saw I had a small gap, so I was off to the races at full gas the rest if the way. I have to tell you that my new Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 clinchers with 25mm Bontrager R3 tires were awesome on the terrible pavement and I was able to fly over the roughest of it at full power and solo in the last 5 miles for the stage and GC win!
Kyle and Phil finished in the chase group with Kyle hanging onto 4th GC and Phil dropping to 6th due to Joe Staron (Lange Twins) picking up a 10 sec time bonus.
Thanks Ken, Kyle & Phil, as short as it was, racing the Madera Stage Race with you guys was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!
See all the results here.