It would be a day for the sprinters-Stage 17 Racing

 

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Roger Millikin

by Bryan Larsen

 

It’s only February. How fast can this race be? I mean, it’s kinda cold and cloudy and we’re in normally sunny Southern California. Nobody is going to want to take control.

I told myself that while warming up on the nearby industrialized streets of Brea. I was wrong.

Roger Millikin Memorial Criterium brought solid organization, great timing, an incredibly fun and fast course, and a solid field. The familiar SoCal colors of Cashcall, Full Circle, MRI, Get Crackin’, Bike Religion, and a light sprinkling of Stage 17 Racing, took to the line eagerly to hear the final race rules: “you will be racing for 80 minutes, gentlemen…”

And so it began with the oddly calming whistle being blown. We were off, and straight from the gun a three-man move was up the road on the very first lap. Once they were brought back, another went. And another. And yet another. That continued for the next sixty minutes. Tensions were high and the race pace showed it. Attacks were relentless.  I told myself to stay calm, eventually, the elastic would snap.

In the closing thirty minutes of racing, I noticed that gaps were starting to form a little easier. It seemed as though the packs’ legs were lacking the sharpness and snap that kept the pace upwards of nearly 30mph for the first hour. Heads were swaying and then–BOOM!–eight-ish riders were 5-8 seconds up the road. Checking for teams, I scanned the front of the pack then the breakaway. It was a seamless match.  All the teams near the front were represented. CashCall had three. Full Circle had one or two. And the youngsters of MRI, Get Crackin’, and Stage 17 Racing all were there as well. While my teammate, Ben Bertiger, was up there, I knew I could get across and perhaps jumpstart our chances at a win with two full hands instead of one. I punched it during a moment of hesitation in the pack and powered myself across.

My legs were going good and I checked over my shoulder. A fourth Cashcall rider huddled in my draft as I closed the last few meters to the back end of the break. Bullets were used, but surely this was THE move of the day. Wrong again. Disorganization and a still-hungry pack brought us all back into the fold. It would be a day for the sprinters, I told myself as I drifted back into the pack, catching my breath.

In the final ten laps, tension peaked. Teams were trying to get their leadout trains organized behind the blue train of CashCall. Elbows began to fly. The sweet smell of burnt brake pads filled my nostrils and my adrenaline pumped. If nothing else, the adrenaline of such a fun course helped me recover from my earlier efforts during the race. I felt refreshed. I felt sharp, and so did everyone else near the leading point of the pack. Surely, Cashcall was the most organized, well in advance of the bell lap, but was it too early? Other teams seemed to think so and lined up waiting for a brief lull before taking the front. MRI, Bike Religion, and Full Circle all lined up in linear patterns offset from the Cashcal train. I, meanwhile, was swinging wheels from team to team.

Three laps to go. I saw a grey and orange blur on my left. My other teammate, Michael Valdez, launched himself ahead of Cashcall; a bold and fearless move. He held his gap for about a lap before he was brought back. I wanted to pat him on the back. Committing yourself to a suicide mission is sometimes the hardest part of racing. Michael’s willingness to train his mind to such an effort showed he will be a rider to be reckoned with later this season.

Two laps to go. Cashcall still at the front, but looking a little bit less organized. MRI and Full Circle both pressed forward to take control.

Bell lap. Cashcall surged forward and hooked it hard into the first corner. I heard panic from some of the other sprinters who were yelling at their leadout trains to start going, but with no reply as they themselves were maxed out. I got swarmed and found myself too far back exiting the second corner. I stood up and went all out, slotting in at 10th wheel cresting the second to last corner. I scanned through newly tinted SPY lenses to see MRI, Cashcall, and the lone Rahsaan Bahati fighting for the last corner. MRI took first through the last corner only to have Cashcall’s Justin Williams and Fabrizio Von Nacher cross the line first. MRI suffered some kind of ill-timed mechanical. Bahati finished up third. And a wicked fast Spy Rider, Erick Sobey, finished up just shy of the podium in 4th, which is a very solid performance considering he came out of the last corner in around 10th place just behind me and pounced past some big guns in the closing meters. And that left me.  I finished 7th with no sprint left in my legs. At this level, we always want to win. ALWAYS. I was disappointed and rode back to my car. Ah, I sighed while packing up. I didn’t crash. I learned a lot. I felt strong. And, after all, it’s only February.

 

Mothballs Crit by Ben Bertiger

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Mothballs Crit

by Ben Bertiger (Stage 17 Racing)

Mothballs was my first road race of 2013.  I finished up my cross season at nationals two weeks ago in Madison, Wisconsin.  I had been sick during nats and the week after so I was excited to be feeling better and to see about my road form.  I just started school at UCSB this fall, so the race was a quick three-mile ride from my dorm.  It was nice having a race so close that I could just get my bike and ride over to the course in 10 minutes.

My team, Stage 17 Racing, recently finished off a five-day training camp in Lake Havasu, so this would be only the second race of the season for the team. I had three teammates with me in the race, Daniel Katz, Bryan Larsen, and Tosh Clements.  Optum had the reigning national criterium champion in the field, so we knew we’d have to work together to beat him and the other large teams in the race.

I planned to just go easy and wait for the sprint because it was my first race of the season and I was coming off illness, so I spent most of the first half of the race about mid-field and let my teammates follow the moves.  Then, a little after half-way through the race, a break got away with about ten riders.  I noticed that there were no Stage 17 riders in it and it appeared to be serious.   I attacked, bridged across and skipped a few pulls to give myself some time to recover. The break was fairly large so there were a few riders skipping pulls, which caused some chaos.  Nonetheless, we stayed around 30 seconds up for most of the race until the end when more people stopped working.  The field came fairly close to us in the last few laps and I thought it was over a few times.  Then, Jesse Anthony from the Optum team attacked with one lap to go and Collin Berry, Taylor Clements, and Daniel Gay from Get Crackin’ got on his wheel.  I pulled in directly behind them.  Jesse Anthony pulled off between turns 1 and 2 and the Get Crackin’ riders began to lead out the sprint.  I stayed right behind them until just before the last corner when I attacked.  I had about three bike lengths coming into the final straightaway.  I always forget how long the final straightaway is in Mothballs, so I started to fade near the end.  Luckily, I had enough of a gap to stay in front.  After I picked up my prize, I rode back to my dorm where I was greeted by my enthusiastic floor mates.

Mothballs was a great way for me and Stage 17 Racing to start the 2013 road season.  Only two weeks ago, I had been racing cross in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, sick and frostbitten.   I hadn’t come into this race expecting much but, thanks to some hard work from me and the rest of my Stage 17 team and a bit of luck, we came out on top.

 

 

STAGE 17 RACING GROWS SQUAD

STAGE 17 RACING GROWS SQUAD; ADDS EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE FOR 2013 SEASON

 

Stage 17 Racing expands from 8 riders to 14 for 2013

 

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (December 12, 2012) – Following a successful close to its first complete season, Stage 17 Racing, a development cycling team owned and operated by Stage17.org, is proud to announce its 2013 roster which includes seven returning riders and seven exciting additions. Stage 17 Racing spent the majority of 2012 battling with much more experienced pro teams and riders, but still managed to take home numerous accomplishments. The team remains focused on fostering clean, mature athletes prepared to become the next crop of elite America cycling champions.

 

“We’re looking to build on our successes in 2013 — our goals will continue to be set on development as well as a national championship,” said Michael Roecklein, Director Sportif, Stage 17 Racing. “Our chances in achieving our goals have increased as we welcome back a number of our riders from 2012 who now have a year of racing at a national level under their belts while adding some tremendous talent including our first international riders.”

 

Returning for their second year with the team are Andrew Sjorgen, Ben Bertiger, Bryan Larsen, Danny Katz, Michael Valdez and Tosh Clements.  Larsen will be loaned for part of the season to the Belgian team, DRC de MOl, before his return to the states in time for U.S. Nationals.

 

Alex Bowden (formerly Team Type 1) and Rene Corella (formerly NWVG – Bike4Air) will add European experience to the squad and, with Corella, a former Mexican U23 Road Race Champion (2011). Bowden spent a majority of his cycling career with Team Type 1 and is looking forward to the difficult races on the team’s schedule such as Redlands Bicycle Classic, Joe Martin Stage Race and Tour of the Gila.  Corella spent time in Netherlands with NWVG – Bike4Air team and is shifting his focus to the Elite Pro Mexico National Championships for 2013 after winning the U23 version in 2011.

 

Stage 17 Racing will provide four juniors with their first experience racing at a national level. Gera Medina and Nash Jacquez both make the transition from Stage 17 Racing’s junior program, Major Motion Development. Medina topped off a phenomenal season with a stage win and fifth overall at the Tour de l’Abitibi while Jacquez has proven himself to be a dedicated hard worker. Ian Moore and Kyle Torres come to us from the phenomenal Team Swift and Team Specialized Juniors programs. Moore and Torres are both devastating time trial threats and are anxious to test their mettle against the nation’s top talent.

 

New for 2013 is the addition of Daniel Harm in a dual assistant director/rider role.  Harm will spend the majority of his time with the team helping develop their race awareness and helping team management coordinate the logistics of moving a 14 man team throughout the country. Harm’s personal pursuit on the road will be the US Elite Time Trial Championship, where he finished second in 2010. Returning in his team consultant and guest rider role is reigning US National 35+ Road Race Champion, Rudy Napolitano.

 

Additional information on each rider can be found at www.stage17.org/roster.

 

Stage 17 Racing Returning Riders:

Andrew Sjogren

Ben Bertiger

Bryan Larsen

Daniel Katz

Michael Valdez

Rudy Napolitano – Team Consultant

Tosh Clements

 

New additions to Stage 17 Racing:

Alex Bowden – from Team Type 1

Daniel Harm – Assistant Director | from Astellas Oncology Cycling Team

Gera Medina – from Major Motion Development

Ian Moore – from Team Swift

Kyle Torres – from Team Specialized Juniors

Nash Jacquez – from Major Motion Development

Rene Corella – from NWVG – Bike4Air

 

Stage 17 Racing is proud to be partnered with the following sponsors in 2013: America West Natural Hazard Disclosures, a leading provider of natural hazard disclosures; iRT Wheels, formed in 2010 with the goal of reinventing the riding experiences of everyone from world-class athletes to the casual rider; Pactimo, providers of high quality custom cycling apparel in five weeks or less; Spy Optic, makers of function-forward facewear for fast fashion freaks; Cytosport, makers of performance inspired products that safely address the needs of athletes and active lifestyle individuals; Limar, makers of the world’s lightest helmet; Cascade Bike Trainers, helping people stay fit and live healthier with their health and fitness products; EastWest Bikes, the premier independent bike boutique of Southern California; Swiftwick, innovator in designing and producing the best active wear products on the planet; as well as SDG Components; Thomson; Superfeet; Bike Pure; and Gibson Law Group.

 

Additional information about Stage 17 Racing can be found at www.stage17.org or www.facebook.com/stage17racing.