Article by Travis Dixon (HDB Masters Cycling), Photography by Angelica Dixon
The 41st Tour de Los Alamos was run on Sunday July 9th. It’s the oldest race in the southwest and known as a demanding race bringing out a high calibre of racers from the region.The race for the Cat 1,2,3 men is made up of three 27-mile circuits (82 miles) with over 6,000 feet of climbing through spectacular New Mexico countryside. The course runs alongside Bandelier National Monument and through a section of the Los Alamos National Laboratory property, requiring riders to use a dedicated lane as they pass through the security gates. The circuits take their toll due to the amount of climbing, exposed windy sections, and working descents. It’s a race for tactically savvy well balanced racers.
As the flag dropped at the end of the neutral section the attacks started immediately. Once the main descent began less than 10 miles in to the race, John Verhuel, of Scalo Veloce, made a gap. A flurry of counter attacks ensued with a solid group establishing itself. Every team was represented and the break began to extend its lead immediately.
Kip Taylor of Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling, described lap one, “Our plan for the day was simple; get one or two of our riders in the break and ensure that the riders we had marked did not make the break. We had success with the first part of our plan, as two of our guys made the break, however, the second part did not go to plan. One of the guys we had marked made the break.” The leaders opened up a gap of 4.5 minutes as they began the 7-mile climb that marked the final part of the circuit. Kip Taylor took up the action again, “With a marked man in the break, it was decided that instead of letting the break stay away, we would chase them down and bring our marked man back. Fortunato, my teammate, and I set a tough pace on the climb. The group thinned quickly and at the top of the climb it was me, two of my teammates (Fortunato Ferrara and Damian Calvert,) and a young strong rider, Earl Gage from Scalo Veloce.”
Fortunato added, “Once we began the descent we picked up two riders from the original break, Gavin Kennard of HDB Masters and another teammate, Hans Whitefield. The five of us rotated well in order to catch the break. We kept picking up dropped riders but we knew that our teammate, Jonathan Petrillo, wasn’t doing any work in the break in order to slow them down.” Gavin Kennard reported, “That lap was fast as the Sports Systems guys wouldn’t let anyone sit on. They would leave gaps forcing us to chase. It was a good tactic on their part as it forced all of us to work and we caught the break as the last climb started.”
Kip described the last lap, “Once we caught the lead group it was apparent that their work in the break had burnt a lot of matches. So rather than keeping the group together, we set a hard pace up the climb. At the top of the climb going into the final lap it was me, Fortunato, and Damian.” The three Sports Systems riders worked well through the final lap and established a solid lead. Kip continued, “With his ‘home town’ in Los Alamos it seemed like a no brainer for Fortunato to get the win. We pacelined up the last climb and the race ended in truly special fashion with the three of us crossing the line together. Very Cool!” Fortunato, who is originally from Italy and now lives in Los Alamos, shared in Kip’s sentiments when asked about his win right after the race as, “very cool to win in my hometown”.
The official men’s results were 1st – Fortunato Ferrara, 2nd - Damian Calvert, 3rd – Kip Taylor. Sports Systems came with a stacked team and it was their race to lose. They displayed excellent teamwork all day. All of their riders had a role with their podium sweep. Kip summed the day up perfectly, “We have the mentality on this team where ‘everyone eats’ and Los Alamos showed just that!”
Official women’s results were 1st – Mindy Caruso (Scalo Veloce), 2nd – Irena Ossola (Team Kenda p/b RACC), 3rd – Maria Santiago (Naked Women Racing)