Tour de Murrieta: Stage Two
by Christiaan Kriek (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda)
The race started pretty aggressively with a lot of teams trying to get riders up the road. The event being an omnium, there were still a lot of guys in the running for the GC irrespective of time losses on the previous day. After quite a number of brutal accelerations, a group of 5 managed to get clear of an already tired field. The breakaway group was composed of Emerson Oronte and Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Cole House and Chris Barton (CashCall Mortgage) and race leader Serghei Tvetcov.
The riders back in the peloton seemed pretty content with the break with most of the dominant teams being represented. Ken Hanson (Optum Kelly Benefit Strategies) tried to ride across the gap to the break. I immediately jumped on his wheel along with 3 other riders. We got close to the break when the group of chasers started looking at one another to close the remainder of the gap. A short drop in speed and impetus gave me the opportune moment to attack. I made it across to the break on my own to join two of my teammates in a group of 6.
We worked well together for most of the race. Our gap over the peloton never grew to more than 20 seconds, so there wasn’t much time for cat-and-mouse tactics. The majority of the 75-minute criterium was just spent looking at the rider’s wheel in front of you, no questions asked. Closer to the end of the race, it appeared highly likely that we would stay away to the end as the peloton seemed to lose interest.
We had 3 out of the 6 breakaway riders represented by our team (all 3 in the top 8 on GC after the TT), so we were in a dominant position to try and isolate the race leader and go for the stage win as well as the overall lead in the Tour. Emerson Oronte countered a strong move by Chris Barton with 1 lap to go, putting the other teams on the back foot. He got a 5-second gap and, for a split second, it looked like he might stay away. CashCall and Serghei Tvetcov closed it down with about 500m to go. I favoured my chances for the win in the sprint, so my teammate Sean Mazich told me to stay on his wheel. He did an amazing job in closing down last-minute attacks by CashCall and then gave me the perfect lead out to take the victory.
We placed 1st, 2nd (Sean Mazich), and 6th (Emerson Oronte) for the stage. The rest of the team did an amazing job back in the bunch at neutralising numerous attacks by rogue riders unhappy with the status quo up the road. All in all, a great team effort by Jelly Belly p/b Kenda’s staff and riders.
We head into tomorrow’s stage with the race leader’s jersey and hopefully we can defend that with success. I fully trust in my team, they are a very strong unit this year and will definitely make the rival teams work for any possible success on the day!