Race Report: Boulevard Road Race (Men’s P1/2)


Ben Wolfe pictured here is “Cracked”….


Boulevard Road Race Campo CA-

Words by: Ben Wolfe

The Boulevard Road Race is SoCal’s real season opener. You show up to the parking lot and the excitement and nerves are running high. Known for its “New England” like weather, you never know what to expect. This year we got lucky, it was high 40’s and only a chance of rain (I was still doing plyometric ‘s at the start to keep warm).

The whistle blew and we rolled down the parking lot of the Golden Acorn Casino. The first attacks flew almost immediately. Within 3 miles of the start, the break had formed with the bigger teams represented. At the bottom of the 11 mile descent, the gap was reported at “Um, maybe like 2-3 minutes” by a guy on the side of the road with a camera.

I got a little nervous. KHS-Maxxis pb JVELO were“blocking”; sitting 2nd wheel and not pulling through. Keegan Swenson (Sho-Air Cannondale) and a few other rides went and got a gap, then I hit it with Hunter Grove (Incycle – Cannondale Pro Cycling) and one other rider. We bridged across to the break and got there right at the KOM line. With that, the break was a little too big to work smoothly. We rolled through, a few guys got shed and then it started rolling smoothly.

We all worked very well together for the next 50 or so miles. Going into 1 lap to go, 3 riders bridged across including Jon Hornbeck (Hincape Racing Team). Once they came across, I asked how the field was feeling. Jon replied “Pretty shattered”.

The 12-15 of us who were in the front group knew that it was the winning move; and  a lot of riders had become passengers. At the base of the descent, before the turn to the train tracks, with about 10 miles to go, I used my momentum to attack. I rolled by and set a tempo, turned around saw there was a gap. I put my head down and committed to the move. Knowing there was still a very hard 10 miles in front of me I paced it so I had some left for the final 5 miles up the hill to the finish.

Ben Wolfe in number one in this race for sure!

Surprisingly it worked and the motorcycle came up to me with about 500 meters to go and told me there was a group of 4 at 45 seconds. I was super pumped to hear that, but didn’t ease up until the last 50 meters.

Hunter Grove won the group sprint for 2nd. What a rad way to opener the road race season. Here’s to some more bike racing!


Ben Wolfe races for Watsonville, CA. -base, California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized.

California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized Announces 2014 Road Roster


California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized Announces 2014 Road Roster

photo by Lyne Lamoureux

photo by Lyne Lamoureux


Watsonville, CA – The California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team announced today the 14 riders that will contest the 2014 road season.  Continuing on its mission to develop the next generation of professional cyclists, the roster includes 11 under-23 racers and three mentors that will provide leadership on and off the bike throughout the year.


“We’re excited to bring in five new young riders in our ‘catch-and-release’ program that has proven to be successful in the past. Our goal is to help these young riders become successful adults and to give them the proper support to help them reach for their dream of becoming professional cyclists.” said Team Manager and VP of Sales for California Giant, Anthony Gallino.

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Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium

©Hannelore Eckmann

©Hannelore Eckmann


by Yannick Eckmann (Cal Giant)

The Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium in Boise is one of my favorite crits each year, with the spectators and the stacked field. So far I went to it the past two years because it is on the way to the Cascade Cycling Classic and it’s a great leg-opener for the coming week.

The race started around 8 o’clock and went for 90 minutes. I was super pumped to be standing at the starting line this year again. I saw all the riders from United HealthCare there and I knew they would be controlling the race, and likely winning as well. The race started and the speed went up right away as the first attacks came. It was one attack after the other. I even put some attacks in, just trying to have fun. I knew I wasn’t going to stay away with UHC there, but it was worth the try.

The race speed stayed high throughout the whole race since every 4-5 laps there was a prime for about 50 dollars. I wanted to go for some of them, but I was always too far back. But then a prime came up and I was in the front and I knew I was going to get that one.  After I got the prime, I went pretty far in the pack again when they caught me, since it actually took a lot of energy out of me. Throughout the race there were also some uncalled-for crashes.  Riders always wanted to go past the field right before the turn and then they came with too much speed into the turn and slipped away, taking other riders with them. I was lucky enough to be in none of the crashes, which I was really proud of.

While the race was slowly winding down to the last 13 laps the UHC train found themselves in the front of the field, keeping the speed high, even upping the speed every lap.  With 5 laps to go the speed was high,so much so that it was super hard to move up. After the turns you were able to move up 1 or 2 spots, if that, before the next turn came. I was sitting around top 20 the whole time. I was trying to play it safe as well, so when people were fighting for wheels I didn’t fight back too much, just because I wanted to lower the risks of crashing and getting hurt before Cascade.

In the last 3 laps the speed maxed out. I was in my biggest gear the whole time and we were going into turns with super high speeds. I was always hoping that none of the wheels would slip away to cause a crash at speeds like what we had during the race. Going into the last lap a small gap opened between the first 7 riders and the rest of the field. I was just waiting for the end, hoping I could sprint by some people. Going into the last turn there were 2 UHC riders lying on the ground at the fence. We came around trying to avoid them and then started sprinting.  I was able to sprint by some people before the line to finish in 14th place. I was happy with that because I was in the money and because I finished the race without getting hurt.


Video:Stephen Leece 2013 USA Elite RR Champion



Stephen Leece(Cal-Giant) 2013 USA Elite RR Champion


Stephen Leece (San Luis Obispo, Calif./ California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) outlasted nearly 200 competitors to don his first Stars-and-Stripes jersey. Leece emerged from a 10-rider lead group to cross the line two seconds ahead of runner-up Cameron Cogburn (Cambridge, Mass./CCB Racing) and 12 seconds ahead of Joseph Schmalz (Lawrence, Kan./Elbowz Racing p/b Boneshaker Project).


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The Gila Monster by Torey Philipp

Tory Phillip (California Giant Cycling)

Tory Phillip (California Giant Cycling)

The Gila Monster

by: Torey Philipp (California Giant Cycling)


The “Gila Monster” stage of the Tour of the Gila sure lived up to its name.  Going into the final day, we really didn’t have a designated leader for the stage or any guy to protect on GC, so our goal was to get one of us into the early break and hope it survived to the finish.  Last year, the Gila Monster’s sharp teeth bit into me when racing at high altitude finally caught up with me and drained every last drop of energy out of my body, so I was a little worried about what might happen this time.


When the neutral zone ended, the race was on.  There were constant attacks, but no one was getting too far up the road.  The Jamis-Hagens Berman team, of overall race leader Janier Acevedo, was not making it an easy task for anyone attempting to get off the front.  On the series of rollers heading towards the first KOM, the peloton was completely strung out, approaching speeds of 50-plus miles per hour at some points.  Pebbles and debris shot up from the wheels in front of me.  One of them struck my shin with enough force to actually break the skin, so I had blood dripping down my leg the rest of the stage.  That’s a first!

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CX Worlds By Yannick Eckmann


Photo Credit: Hannelore Eckmann

Photo Credit: Hannelore Eckmann

CX Worlds

By Yannick Eckmann


My alarm woke me at 7:50 AM and I went down to get my first meal into me before the race. After I had a nice, solid breakfast, I went back up to my room to relax and to put my legs up to rest them.  My next meal was at 9:30; some rice with cheese and salt, my main pre-race food. After I ate, I relaxed a bit more and then headed to the world championship course.

The roads were covered with snow and the course was frozen. I was really excited with the course and how the conditions whre. I pre-rode a couple of times and then headed to the German team tent to warm up. At first, I had Fango tires on for the pre-ride, but as the temperature got warmer and warmer I knew that the ground of the course would melt pretty fast with the temperature and the people riding on it.  I told my dad to switch the tires to a Limus mud tire. After my warm up I headed to the start line with 15 minutes until the start so I could ride back and forth on the starting straight. [Read more…]

Norcal vs. SoCal


Norcal vs. SoCal

by Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant Berry Farms)


The race started out fast yesterday with a pretty good group of racers and lots of brutal action at the front. The course was wide and grassy–different from what we usually have in NorCal–and from the start it looked like it would to be me, Eric, and Aaron playing each other until the end of the race.

About 6 laps in, Eric bobbled the off camber section a little and he came off the back of our group.  From that point on it was just Aaron and me. We race together frequently in NorCal and I don’t think there are any two racers who know each other’s strengths and weaknesses as well as we do. We’re both very good technical riders, and we can both motor when we need to, but when it came down to it during this race I felt like I had a better engine for the day.

After Eric fell off, Aaron and I traded pulls and kept our pace pretty constant until the last lap. I think both of us knew we were not going to be able to ride off the front alone so we waited to make our moves. Coming into the last lap, I led us into the barrier before the run up.  I planned on running in hopes that Aaron would come around me so I could stay behind him until it was time to attack. Just as planned, I ran and Aaron hopped the barrier, which put him back in front of me. I stayed behind him until the hills on the backside where I made my move that gave me a small gap, just enough to win.


Cyclocross Nationals-Eckmann Crowned U23 champion

Cyclocross Nationals

by Yannick Eckman (California Giant Berry Farms)

2013 US Cyclocross National Championships

The day started like any other, with waking up and getting breakfast. The only change was that I awoke super nervous with a little ache in the stomach from my nerves.  After having a good, solid breakfast, I went back into my hotel room and put my feet up until I left for the race.

When the course opened, I went out and did a couple of laps until they closed it down again. During those two laps, I found out that the bike got muddy almost instantly. My bike was just covered in dirt that was hard to get off since the temperature was getting close to freezing. When I got back to the tents, I told my mechanics that I wanted to switch bikes every half-a-lap to reduce the risk of a mechanical.  Still nervous, I went onto the trainer for forty minutes before the race. I put my music on and I was in my own world going over the course a couple times in my head.

With twenty minutes to go ‘til the start, I got off and got everything ready and then rolled up and down on the starting line to stay moving and keep the legs warm.  I was being staged in the second row because the first row was for the top finishers from last year and the top finisher from the 17-18’s. Everyone was staged and we suddenly got the one minute warning.

When the whistle blew, my nervousness went away and I focused on the race and trying to get to the front. My start was the best I had, but I still went into the mud around tenth place. This could have been a potential mistake because someone could have crashed in front of me or taken me down because of the mud and the ruts underneath. To avoid that, I chose to take the bad lines that cost a bit more energy but would be a lot safer. That ended up being a good decision since the first crashes happened right away on the left and right.

After the pit, I caught up to Drew Dillman in the lead.  I had an advantage on the hill because I was able to ride it while he was running it.  I passed him right away and just chose my own lines from then on, never looking back. When I switched bikes, my dad told me the time gap I had on the next rider.  It was great getting splits just to assure that everything was going the way it should have. I kept switching bikes every half-lap and a clean bike made a huge difference because everything worked smoothly and I was able to extend my lead every lap.

Going into the last lap I started smiling, already thinking that if nothing went wrong I would win the race. With half a lap to go I knew I had it and I was super happy. Going onto the finishing straight, I started to celebrate and crossed the finish line with the biggest smile on my face.  After I finished, I started to freeze right away with all the mud and wet shoes on me. I gave a couple interviews and then headed to my tent to change before going off to doping control.

I am really thankful to all the people out there that cheered for me at the race, and to my family in Germany who were waiting to get the result from my dad. Also, I want to thank all the people that made this possible (pit crew, sponsors, team, and supporters).  I couldn’t have done it without any of you guys.