Team Smart Stop – Mountain Khakis Looks Back at the 2013 Season

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Team Smart Stop – Mountain Khakis

Team Smart Stop – Mountain Khakis looks back at the 2013 season.

It is a quiet Friday morning and as a management team we are honing in and concentrating on the 2014 season. I began wistfully pondering where the team would be racing this weekend. Knowing full well that the season had officially ended for us, but being a very unseasonable 88 degrees here it was too easy to forget that fact. It still feels like summer and it still feels like we should be competing. There is some racing happening though that I will have to take solace in; Travis and Adam are doing cyclocross, Daniel is still road racing in Europe, and Bobby, Jackie, Clay, and Shane will have one or two big track events. For the most part though they are competing as individuals and the rest of the team and staff have dispersed to parts unknown for the off season.

As we look forward to our 9th season we pause a moment to look back at what we accomplished as a Team and an organization this year. The 2013 season has been a major success for the Team SmartStop presented by Mountain Khakis Cycling Team on numerous fronts.

As an organization, Premier Sports Group built a winning criterium team and remained focused on those goals and initiatives as we raced this year. That success was quantified by victories in some of the most prestigious races in the U.S.. At the 2012 Interbike show we received the messaging and feedback that we should be looking to forge a path and make inroads into the International Stage Race Calendar that had a growing list of televised races. That concept posed some major hurdles for us, but with a little extra impetus from our Canadian rider Ben Chaddock we targeted a lofty goal of getting an invitation to the inaugural Tour of Alberta. So in 2013 we added new and enthusiastic members to our ownership board, we hired full time staff for the first time, we made some key rider acquisitions to help us in our efforts to become a stage race team, and after an extensive search we hired Michael Creed as our new full time director. It was with great pride that we took whatmany considered solely a criterium team and closed out the year doing a major North American televised UCI stage race.

As a team we also felt successful. The Team proudly established a partnership with Luke’s Wings, an organization dedicated to the support of service members who have been wounded in battle, we were second in both the USA CRITS and National Criterium Calendar series. We pulled together as staff, riders, and management and consistently put forth both a professional performance and an appearance. Most significantly though all members of the team proudly wore our colors and did so with respect for themselves, their teammates, and their sponsors. We are very proud of each and every one of the riders we had and together they truly formed our Team.

As riders there was also many individual successes, although any one rider who did have any personal success would be the first to tell you that it could not have been done without their teammates, staff, or the management team. It was truly an environment of “It Takes a Team” and that attitude was shared all year. Shane Kline shined all season long. From his NCC win at the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling to his USA CRITS U25 Overall title and his 5th in the NCC series. He almost capped off the year with another NCC win at Boston Mayor’s Cup. 2nd was still a great way for him to end the year. Thomas Brown showed his consistency and contributions all year and was rewarded with the USA CRITS Lap Leader title. As the team began its ramp up to Alberta, new recruit Flavio De Luna really made a statement s to our intentions by winning the KOM jersey at the Cascade Classic. A significant milestone which marked a real point of departure from being “just” a criterium team. Bobby Lea really added another milestone when he took 5th Overall at the Tour of Elk Grove. Elk Grove was a UCI 2.1 ranked event and showed he and the team were ready to compete at the highest level. A season in which we went head to head with the “Blue Train” was highlighted for us with Frank Travieso’s showdown at the Athens Twilight Criterium. There were many results and contributions by individuals all year, but that would not have been possible if each and every rider did not or was not prepared and ready to sacrifice themselves for the team.

So while we will miss the racing for a while, the ability to watch them via LIveStream (Thanks SmartStop!), and the camaraderie of our team we are extremely excited about the prospects of the 2014 season. We have what I will call made the transition to a stage race team and our 2014 goals, roster, and schedule will reflect that. We have a lot of momentum and we are at a launching point for making a distinctive and long-term impact on American cycling.

Recap- Awbry Butte Circuit Race-Tvetcov and McGrath win Cascade Cycling Classic Overall Classification.

Stage 5 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 5 Cascade Cycling Classic

Stage 5 – Awbry Butte Circuit Race.

Tvetcov and McGrath win Cascade Cycling Classic Overall Classification.
The circuit race is another long standing course for Cascade. It’s a challenging circuit with the main features being the climb out of Tumalo Park and the climb of Archie Briggs. The first climb is a main road climb leading to the feed zone and a long false flat leading to Archie Briggs. This climb begins with a fast twisting descent into a 15% wall followed by more false flat and kicking up to the final stair step KOM summit.  The rest of the course is undulating with fast descents and exposed sections. A well balanced course which comes at the end of an aggressive week of racing.
The men’s race began at 1 PM and as has been the case with every race so far, once the flag dropped at the end of e neutral zone, the attacks began. Immediately, the 150 man field was strung out as it serpentined across the road.  Small groups would escape only to be brought back. This  pattern continued past the first climb of Tumalo Park. The field stayed together but was single file over the top. The attacks continued with 5 Hour particularly active today. Once the over Archie Briggs a group of 20 was able to get away but this too was pulled back. The peloton, which was being lead primarily by Jelly Belly riding for yellow jersey wearer Tvetcov, was not going to let anything go unless it had the right combination of riders.
Coming into the Tumalo Park climb on lap 2, a group of 12 had managed to get off the front.  This group had 25 seconds over the top of the climb and quickly increased to 55 seconds entering Archie Briggs. The group was working well together with no one sitting on.  Flavio Deluna of SmartStop- Mountain Khakis took the KOM and the break had increased their gap to 1:15 over the peloton. The break was well represented with single riders from Bissell, Optum, Giant, Bontrager, BMC, Jelly Belly, 5 Hour, SmartStop, Hincapie, Astellas Oncology, and 2 Hagens Berman riders.
Lap 3 saw this gap increase to its largest gap of 1:45 as they crested the Tumalo Park climb. Deluna again took KOM over the Archie Briggs climb with the breaks gap at 1:15. Jelly Belly were controlling the break and riding strongly on the front. It seemed that the race was shaping up for a fast finale.
As lap 4 began, the gap was down to 1:05 and would drop to 40 seconds only to increase again to 1:10. Clearly the two groups were figuring out their tactics for the final phase of the race. As lap 5 began the peloton had swallowed up the break but two riders attacked and established a small gap. Eric Marcotte of Elbowz Racing p/b Boneshaker and James Oram of Bontrager Cycling held onto a tenuous 15 second gap all the way to the Archie Briggs climb. It was a strong move but just too much to ask with this motivated field behind. The race was all together leading into the fast final 5 km. Four riders managed to get a small gap leading into the final 500 meters of the race with Rosskopf of Hincapie Sportswear taking the spring with teammate Clark taking second and Mancebo of 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda taking third.
It proved to be an important sprint win for Rosskopf. With the time bonuses available on the stage he jumped to 2nd overall.  Tvetcov of Jelly Belly p/b  Kenda took the overall honors with Chad Haga of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies hanging onto 3rd
The women faced 3 laps and 51 miles of the Deschutes Brewery – Awbry Butte Circuit Race. With a more established GC, the race was really going to have to some fireworks to shake up the final. The women’s race was run at an aggressive pace as was evidenced by the continual number of riders shed off the back.  A motivated Team Exergy Twenty 16 did a very good job of controlling the race for their yellow jersey wearer McGrath.
The stage came down to two riders with Amanda Miller of Team TIBCO taking the days honors with Jade Wilcoxson of Optum p/b Kelly Benefits taking second. Lauren Rauck Komanski of NOM and Novartis for MS came in a minute later and took the sprint for 3rd.  McGrath came is few seconds off of  Haeusler of Team TIBCO but remained safely in yellow to take the final GC. Haeusler remained in 2nd overall with Abbott of TIBCO rounding out the podium.
The 2013 Cascade Cycling Classic produced some aggressive and tactical racing.  The women’s race saw an aggressive Team TIBCO race hard from the start and establish the hierarchy that would see McGrath take a well deserved win.  The men’s field was tightly contested with all the teams riding hard right to the final sprint.  At times it appeared to be a battle between the old and new guard with the final result being some fantastic racing.
The race is obviously embraced by the Bend community. The race organization and number of volunteers was impressive to say the least. It’s an incredible event that should remain in high standing on the NRC calendar or years to come.
-Travis Dixon

Dana Point Grand Prix (Pro Race) by Shane Kline(Team Smart Stop p/b Mountain Khakis)

Dana Point Grand Prix (Pro Race)

Dana Point Grand Prix (Pro Race)

Dana Point Grand Prix (Pro Race)

by Shane Kline ( Team Smart Stop p/b Mountain Khakis)

 

 

We had a rough time traveling here, with cancelled flights and 4AM wakeup calls, but we made it, and boy are we glad we did!

 

Coming into today we had a fair bit of pressure on our shoulders, with Smart Stop Self Storage headquarters only a few miles away in Ladera Ranch. Fortunately, the boys were up for the challenge.

 

Knowing this race normally ends in a bunch sprint, my teammates put their faith in me and sacrificed there chances to win by just shutting everything down and keeping me protected all day. Our leadout suffered a bit due to the guys having to race so hard, but they were still able to place me in good position coming into one lap to go! From there I just had to finish the job. Coming into the last turn I was about 5th or 6th wheel.  Since it’s a bit of a downhill before the last kick to the line, I actually backed off the slightest bit to carry all the speed from the downhill and just put my head down and had a good old-fashioned drag race to the line!

 

It was huge to come out on top in front of the sponsors. The boys rode too well to let them down! I’m just glad I could be the one to take the team’s first NCC win of the year.

Charlotte Presbyterian Invitational by Ben Chaddock

 Chaddock (Smartstop Pro Cycling p/b Mountian Khakis

Chaddock (Smartstop Pro Cycling p/b Mountian Khakis

Charlotte Presbyterian Invitational

by Ben Chaddock (Smartstop Pro Cycling p/b Mountain Khakis)

I don’t get a chance to go home to Canada often, but when I do my friends and family often ask me to share a story from one of my favourite racing venues.  What makes a race memorable? Is it the ambiance of the crowd, the quality of the field, or the dollars on the prize list? Who am I kidding?  It’s D, all of the above!  This past Saturday night’s Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina ranks as one of my favorite races of the year, indistinguishable between Vancouver’s Gastown GP and Athens’ Terrapin Twilight.  Its long straightaways and fast corners create a nice distraction from the stress of performing at this marquee venue. And being the hometown for a number of our sponsors, it was indeed a stressful and important race for everyone on the Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis squad. [Read more…]

Delray Beach by Shane Kline

Shane Kline (SmartStop Pro Cycling p/b Mountain Khakis)

Shane Kline (SmartStop Pro Cycling p/b Mountain Khakis)

Delray Beach Twilight

By Shane Kline (SmartStop Pro Cycling p/b Mountain Khakis)

SmartStop Pro Cycling p/b Mountain Khakis

The race was blistering from the start with attacks. We missed a group of 3 that got up the road in the first two laps. The guys did a perfect chase and pulled the break back about half way through.
After that it was all hands on deck just covering moves. UHC was taking shots and we were there to respond. With 15 to go it was obvious it was going to be a field sprint. The team was keeping Isaac and I safe behind the UHC train, unfortunately we got disconnected with 2laps to go. I managed to slot in at 5th wheel coming into the final 2 turns. The rider in front of me dropped the wheel with 1 turn to go and I just had to step out and try to take a run on Hilton’s wheel. Came up short but the team road amazing! The guys really rode their hearts out! A lot of the guys are new on the team and we’re starting to click.

I think it’s only a matter of time until you see a member of Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis on that top step!