|Bissell captures top 4 podium spots in men's crit.
PHOTO CREDIT: Brightroom.com
Pro road racing got underway today at the Sea Otter Classic with the return of criterium racing. 62 pro men and 27 pro women rolled to the start in races lasting 60 minutes and 50 minutes respectively over a 1.2-mile course with punishing climbs, hairpin turns and bullying crosswinds. Six racers battled to the end for the win in the women's race while Bissell's Morgan Schmitt – in a lead group with teammates Kirk O'Bee and Ben Jacques-Maynes – was informed that he would win late in the last lap by team leader, Jacques-Maynes. Bissell fielded the largest team in today's crit and succeeded taking an early command of the race.
"We had a big number and our plan was for sure to win," Schmitt said, "and the plan was to get us up the road early."
A hard, fast start to the men's race broke up the pack almost instantly and racers were swiftly jettisoned from competition. Within 15 minutes, the race split into three parts, beginning with a calculated move from Bissell. Five riders maneuvered a flawless attack and sprinted up the road with a racer from Land Rover – Orbea in tow. Bissell wasted no time shucking Land Rover-Orbea but sacrificed two of their own to send Schmitt, O'Bee, and Jacques-Maynes to the front where they stayed for the duration of the race.
"We eased up a bit more to ride tempo but the start was brutal," Schmitt continued. "We just had to get the gap and make sure no one could cross."
Crit racing never looked so effortless as it did with each pass of the Bissell trio, which sustained a 42-second gap between them and the chase group from race midpoint all the way through to the end.
Lone Benjamin Scores Victory
|Colavita/Sutter Home's Kelly Benjamin relaxes after clinching the crit win.
PHOTO CREDIT: Brightroom.com
Palo Alto-based team TIBCO took up their place at the front to control the field at the start until a restless 17-year-old Coryn Rivera (PROMAN Hit Squad) punched up the pace with an attack 20 minutes into the race. TIBCO responded with a charge of its own from Joanne Kiesanowski who brought four other racers with her. The break of six containing Kelly Benjamin (Colavita/Sutter Home), Liza Rachetto (DFT/Treads), Jenn Halladay (Bob's), and Kathryn Donovan (Kahala Lagran) surged at each other in efforts to decide the race until a charge by Rivera in the final 500 meters was fiercely countered by Benjamin and Kiesanowski, who failed to block Benjamin's win.
"I was coming in support of the new crit and to open up my legs to race for the weekend," Benjamin said. "I was outnumbered and knew I wouldn't be very aggressive so I just saved it for the end. I waited 'til the last minute and it was kind of like a slingshot where I was able to cross from the outside and finish strong."
While Benjamin's Colavita/Sutter Home teammates cheered from the sidelines, Benjamin set a winning trend for her teammates to follow up with in tomorrow's road race.
Pro road racing continues tomorrow at noon with the men's and women's road race. Super D finals take place starting at noon.
Officials of the Sea Otter Classic received confirmation late today that three-time Tour of California winner, Levi Leipheimer, will race the remaining road events on Friday and Saturday at Laguna Seca. The men's pro road race starts at 12:05 pm on Friday; the men's pro circuit race starts at 1:10 pm on Saturday.
LUNA®, the makers of the Whole Nutrition Bar for Women® and title sponsor of the Team LUNA Chix Pro Team, will celebrate its new line of LUNA Sport Cycling Apparel at the LUNA pro team tent on Friday afternoon at 4:30.
|LUNA Sport Cycling Apparel
PHOTO CREDIT: Rich Adams
LUNA Sport Clothing offers refreshingly simple designs that are color-blocked in bright, beautiful colors. LUNA shorts and knickers are made from sophisticated fabrics and feature a low-profile, flat waistband to distribute pressure over a wider area for the most comfortable fit. Authentic, Japanese wood-block prints (hand-carved in the early 1800's) adorn many of LUNA's aesthetically striking jerseys and accessories in this distinctive collection.
In addition to owning some savvy style, you can give back through your purchase. Sales of LUNA Sport clothing will contribute to LUNA's ongoing support of the Breast Cancer Fund. As part of that commitment, LUNA has donated more than $2 million to the Breast Cancer Fund during the past 10 years through direct donations and fundraising programs.
LUNA invites you to see its new clothing line and take advantage of a special Sea Otter discount at a celebratory gathering in the Sea Otter Village tomorrow at 4:30 – just look for the blue awnings of the LUNA pro team tent in team parking.
April 15, 2009 - After a visit to Specialized's headquarters in Morgan Hill on Tuesday, members of the media were introduced to the new Epic and Stumpjumper 29ers onsite Wednesday at Laguna Seca Recreational Area. To debut the new bikes, a panel of Specialized racers were on hand to punctuate the benefits unique to Specialized 29ers.
|Todd Wells and Conrad Stoltz|
Todd Wells and Conrad Stoltz highlighted the 29ers' increased rollover and greater ground contact, which they claimed gives better traction during both climbing and riding over loose stuff. Wells proved those points during Round 1 of the USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour in Fontana, Calif. on March 28 when he climbed to a tenth-place finish after a snapped chain in the first lap cost him five minutes.
Current world cross country champion, Christoph Sauser, underscored the presentation by emphasizing Specialized's signature technologies, including FSR, Brain, Fact Carbon, M5 alloy, and cold forgings - all of which feature on the new 29ers.
The presentation finished up with a test ride on the Fort Ord trails with Wells, Stoltz, and Specialized's roster of famous cyclerati, including Rebecca Rusch, Lene Byberg, and Ned Overend. Visit Specialized's booth #750 in the Sea Otter Village to see the new bikes for yourself.
About Sea Otter Classic, Inc.
The 19th Annual Sea Otter Classic will be held April 16-19, 2009 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, Calif. The four-day "Celebration of Sport" is considered the world's largest cycling festival, hosting nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes and 50,000 fans. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com or by calling 800-218-8411.
An online version of this release can be viewed here
Donna Brown (local media)
Chris Worden (Web-related)