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Sea Otter Pro NRC Road Race - (NE)

Monterey, California, USA, April 19, 2008

Results, report & photos     Mountain Bike Coverage   

17:48 PDT   
Join us Saturday at 1:10pm Pacific Standard Time for live coverage of the Pro Men's USA Cycling National Road Calendar (NRC) Circuit race. Riders will race 22 laps on the world-famous Laguna-Seca International Raceway in Monterey, California. The weather reports are calling for dry skies (so we should not see a repeat of last-year's cancellation under torrential downpours) but chilly temperatures.

Live coverage will get underway just before racing starts.

12:12 PDT   
Good morning from chilly and windy Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. While we wait for the men's NRC pro road race to get underway (in about 30 minutes) we figured we could bring you the last 30 minutes of the women's race.

12:14 PDT   
The women's race is run over 22 laps of the 2.1 mile Laguna Seca racetrack. The course starts with a 300-meter steep climb, a bombing descent down a couple of corkscrew turns then over a short power climb and a fast sloping descent to a flat straightaway for the finish.

12:17 PDT   
The wind has been a factor in the action so far. The women's field has fractured over the first 17 laps of the race. Right now, there is a solo woman away from the remnants of a ten-woman break that split into two groups of five. The rider away is Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita Olive Oil/Sutterhome).

12:18 PDT   
Cromwell's teammate, Dotsie Bausch is an obvious favorite to sprint out of a select bunch like this and Cromwell's break may be a way to set up Bausch so she has to do no work in the break.

12:20 PDT   
There are four laps remaining in the race. The main field is half a lap behind the leaders and essentially out of the race at this point. Cromwell has about 1 minute over the remainder of the break.

12:22 PDT   
Behind Cromwell, the chase includes five riders. Two minutes behind them are four other riders. We're trying to get race numbers and confirm the rider's in each group.

12:25 PDT   
There are, we believe, two Cheerwine riders in the first chase group. They will be happy to learn of the success of their teammate in Europe today. Anne Samplonius, who rides for Cheerwine in the US, won the Ronde van Gelderland in the Netherlands today. Representing her Canadian National Team, she got into a breakaway of eight. She then followed the attack of German Eva Lutz in the final 10km, and then out-sprinted the Equipe Nuernberger rider to take the victory.

12:26 PDT   
The leaders are through the start/finish line and now have three laps remaining. Caldwell is gaining on the back end of the main field and is a threat to lap the bunch.

12:33 PDT   
Cromwell has two laps to go and a 1:30 seconds gap over the chase group of five. She has all but assured herself victory in the Sea Otter NRC Circuit race. The nineteen year old Australian is in the drops and riding with a powerful rhythm against the shifting gusty winds.

12:34 PDT   
The chase group is comprised of Dotsie Bausch (Colavita), Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine), Rachel heal (Tibco), Catherine Cheatley (Cheerwine) and one rider we cannot identify.

12:38 PDT   
Tiffany Cromwell is lapping backmarkers as she enters her final lap. She is totally clear of the field.

12:40 PDT   
Cromwell is off the climb and working her way around the back side of the course as the chase group passes the start/finish line to begin their final lap.

12:42 PDT   
The final rider in that chase group is Shelly Olds (Proman Women's Racing), a Northern-California based rider who recently upgraded from Cat 3 (where she was very successful) to the pro ranks.

12:44 PDT   
Cromwell has done it.

12:44 PDT   
The sprint for second (and the bigger slices of the $10,000 total in prize money) is about a minute away. Will Colavita go one-two?

12:46 PDT   
The chase group is coming out of the final turn - into the wind and the final straightaway.

12:46 PDT   
The Cheerwine riders are leading it out.

12:47 PDT   
But Shelly Olds comes around at the last second to win the sprint.

12:50 PDT   
Cromwell is talking to the announcers about her team's strategy. She says that they knew Laura Can Gilder (Cheerwine) was the most dangerous sprinter in the original lead group so when Van Gilder slipped to the back and appeared to be struggling, her team manager told her to drive the pace and she found herself away.

12:50 PDT   
"It's just great to get a win here," she said, "to get my name out there."

12:50 PDT   
Join us in 20 minutes for the start of the men's NRC Circuit race.

13:10 PDT   
Hello again. The men are lining up for the start of the marquee race for the road portion of the 2008 Sea Otter classic.

13:15 PDT   
Last year, Daniel Ramsey (Team escaped from the pro men's peloton twice in the circuit race to win while Redlands champion Andrew Bajadali (then Jelly Belly now Kelly Benefits Strategies) and Frank Pipp (Health Net/Maxxis) struggled against 30 mile-per-hour winds in a failed doomed attempt to bring him back.

At the time, Ramsey said "I had some teammates in (the chase group) so I knew I was going to have to be the first person to attack; they had been covering moves all day" Ramsey said about his second surge. And although his intention for the race had been simply the KOM category, Ramsey found himself alone off the front again. "(The main pack) must have been just watching each other because I didn't think I felt that good."

Ramsey said he was more motivated to stay away once he had a lead the second time. "My teammates were all back there covering for me. They all dug just as deep as I did to give me a hand so I wanted to give it everything I had." Ramsey also had to contend with 30-mph winds. "It was hard. The wind was strong. It was wet early on. You had to stay on your toes. But this course is as good as it gets in the rain and I just had the legs to keep on going."

Ramsay wears number one this year so there's not much chance he'll get away unnoticed.

13:16 PDT   
Ramsey represents the Time Pro Cycling team this year.

13:17 PDT   
Also in the field is a strong contingent from California Giant Berries, Bissel, Colavita, Health Net, Successful Living and Rock Racing's.

13:18 PDT   
Also a strong possibility is the affable and super-friendly UK team Plowman Craven - who won the non NRC road race yesterday against almost as strong a men's field.

13:19 PDT   
And with warnings to not run the fences through the start finish lines (because the winds are strong enough to have blown them into the racecourse a couple of times), the men's field is off.

13:20 PDT   
There are 116 riders in the men's field but with a wide, clear and perfectly paved racecourse, the high numbers shouldn't be a problem.

13:25 PDT   
The aggression has started in just the first lap - Johnny Sundt attacks and is bridged to by a rider from Successful Living. But the main field is not ready to let opportunists get away so easy and is pacing up.

13:30 PDT   
But... maybe the main bunch is satisfied letting an early escape stay away; Johnny Sundt and Bradley White (Successful Living) are offthe front by abut 30 seconds.

13:37 PDT   
The leaders have 28 laps remaining. Sundt and White is still away.

13:41 PDT   
The break is at 35 seconds. The field doesn't seem to be working too hard but the gap is not rising so the wind is obviously sucking the energy out of the two leaders and this break does not look like it has the legs to stay away.

13:58 PDT   
Two riders are bridging across from the main field - only ten seconds behind Sundt and White. It' Rock Racing's David Clinger and Adam Livingston.

13:58 PDT   
The move has woken up the field, which is all strung out, but the gap between the leaders and the field is holding at just under 30 seconds.

14:01 PDT   
The four riders are together off the climb and working together. One additional rider is trying to bridge across and the field is letting him go.

14:03 PDT   
The pace is hurting the main field - a split has formed in the stiff crosswinds on the back side of the course and a handful of riders are off the back behind the SRAM neutral service car.

14:04 PDT   
The men have 23 laps remaining.

14:20 PDT   
The lead has changed. There are now four riders off the front - Clinger is still there but he is now accompanied by three Successful Living riders (Brian Swenson, Christian Valenzuela and one rider we have not yet identified).

14:21 PDT   
Mountain Bike Editor Sue George is standing on the sidelines of the pro women and men's Short Track Cross Country races just across the venue from our position and reports that Leah Davidson (Trek/VW) just won the women's race ahead of Melanie McQaid and Kelli Emmett.

14:25 PDT   
We have a correction on the make-up of that lead group - it's Brian Jensen, Michael Grabinger Jr and Bradley White of Team Successful Living with David Clinger of Rock Racing.

14:27 PDT   
There are a couple of riders attempting to bridge but all that is doing is putting more and more pressure on a fracturing main field - the gap is not closing and the shifting headwind/crosswind/tailwind is keeping riders in the field fighting to stay connected.

14:31 PDT   
There are nineteen laps to go in the men's race. White is 25, married and lives in Littleton, Colorado. he was with the Discovery Channel/Marco Polo team last year and this is his second season as a pro. According to his team bio, his strengths are to be a motor for breaks and driving tempo - certainly skills he's showing off today

14:34 PDT   
Behind the leaders, some riders on the front of the main field are getting frustrated with the lack of coordination in reeling in the three teammates and Clinger. Coming over a short rise on the back side of the course, riders at the front are spread all across the road. There is some arm gesturing as well but we're too far away to hear what is probably some salty attempts by riders to convince others that they all have an interest in bringing back the break.

All have an interest in bringing the break back except the full Rock Racing team and, currently sitting second wheel in the main bunch, Successful Living teammates of course.

14:42 PDT   
The men's field is shattered into bunches but still the four leaders are away.

14:44 PDT   
We just witnessed an exciting finish to the men's short-track mountain bike race across the venue from us; 22 year old Sam Schultz (who now races for Subaru Gary Fisher but was on the USA Cycling Development team last season) just outfoxed perennial US mountain-bike favorite Ryan Trebon (Kona Les Gets) for the win. Schultz was on Trebon's wheel in the final lap and made a move to get in front and simply outrode Trebon on a couple of nasty little uphills to win.

14:45 PDT   
Back to the men's road race - there are sixteen laps remaining. The four leaders are still away. There is one chase group of about a dozen riders gritting their teeth and trying to make their way through the wind to the front. Behind them, it's multiple single-file groups.

14:48 PDT   
The first chase group has settled in - seven riders at about 1:30 behind the leaders. The group is made up of riders from seven different teams (including Colavita, Rock Racing, Bissel). The main group has settled down again and are all together about 2:30 behind the leaders.

14:49 PDT   
Fifteen laps is a long way for a small break to succeed in such wind but if it does, Successful Living has the numbers to really work against Clinger. With a Rock Racing rider in the chase, Clinger may now sit on the lead group.

14:53 PDT   
Clinger is still working with the leaders though.

14:55 PDT   
With 14 laps remaining, the leaders have 1:10 over the chase. Some of the riders in the chase group are Simon Graywood (Plowman Craven), John Murphy (Health Net), Daniel Ramsey (Time Pro Cycling), Rory Sutherland (Health net), Alejandro Barrejo (Colavito), Caleb Manion.

15:07 PDT   
With 12 laps to go, the four leaders are still working well together. The chase group is holding its distance right now. The main field has split into two distinct bunches - the back of which needs to get a move on or they may be lapped by the leaders.

15:13 PDT   
There are now eleven laps to go.

The leaders have 1:50 over the chase and are taking even turns at the front and riding strong tempo.

The seven riders in the chase are not cooperating as smoothly as the break.

The first block of the main group is only 30 seconds back. It may be, with the wind, that the chase's only hope is to allow the larger main field to reconnect and try to get a more motivated bunch trying to work together to bring back the leaders.

15:14 PDT   
The final main field is a couple of minutes behind the chase. The leaders are closing in.

15:14 PDT   
Ten laps to go.

15:18 PDT   
The chase group and the first main field did come together over the top of the course and John Murphy (Health Net) has gone off by himself - putting himself between the leaders and the chasers.

15:20 PDT   
The leaders have lapped the back of the main field.

15:27 PDT   
We have reached a stalemate in the race. The leaders have enough of a gap to hold it to the end. But it's not certain so they are still working together cleanly - each rider taking fifteen-second pulls and all four sharing the load evenly.

There will come a time soon where the isolated Rock Racing rider, David Clinger, will need to decide if he is going to attack this group and risk running out of energy or whether he likes his chances in a four-man sprint. Team Successful Living team director will be trying to decide when is the perfect time to try and break Clinger out of this lead group and sweep the podium (and the lion's share of the $25,000 in prize money).

15:28 PDT   
Murphy took on a huge challenge for himself. With the wind today, a solo bridge to a well-functioning break almost two minutes up the road is a task only the strongest of riders would be able to accomplish.

15:29 PDT   
With seven laps to go, the task proved to be too much for John Murphy and he's fallen back into the chase.

15:30 PDT   
Colavita are at the front of the chase, trying to salvage something for the team out of the day.

15:41 PDT   
The race has only six laps to go. The leaders are actually coming up behind the chase group (about 500 meters back) and if the chase doesn't get fire in its legs, it too will be lapped by the leaders.

15:48 PDT   
The leader's are less than 200 meters behind the chasers on the circuit now. So will the leaders sit back now, rest up and avoid lapping the field knowing there's no way, with 4-1/2 laps left in the race, they will be caught? if they do sit back, does that help the isolated rider (Clinger or Rock Racing) or the three Successful Living teammates?

15:50 PDT   
The answer revealed itself quickly - the leaders have moved clear of the chase - they have now lapped the entire field.

15:51 PDT   
Based on the race's rules, the benefit to the chase group is they wont have to contend that one final lap to be scored for points and prizes (lapped riders are scored on the leader's final lap - but behind any lead riders still on the final lap even if they finished behind).

15:55 PDT   
The leaders have crossed the start/finish line again and now have only three laps to go - about fifteen minutes of racing. So far, the fireworks are staying in the box but someone has to make a move soon.

16:01 PDT   
So in a race two hours long and which started with 116 riders, only four remain with any chance to win. One rider, Bradley White, has been off the front since the very first lap. The other three joined him in the very early minutes of the race. All four deserve victory for their confidence and aggression to make the race win a possibility for themselves. But with two laps to go, each of the four know that only one of them will take the ultimate prize.

Riding up the climb for the 29th ascent, they leaders have climbed a sum total of almost 10,000 vertical feet so far today. In just two hours of racing!

16:02 PDT   
Even now, with such little room to make a move, Clinger stays with the three Successful Living teammates and continues to share the work.

16:02 PDT   
I would think he certainly has a right to sit on the back and force them to take action against him.

16:02 PDT   
And he is a strong enough rider that he could respond to any attack if he is rested.

16:06 PDT   
The leaders have just double-lapped the very back of the main group and are now on their final lap. Clinger is still with the three Successful Living riders. They are on the brutal, 300-meter climb together for the last time.

16:09 PDT   
Clinger is sitting on the other three leaders around the back of the course.

16:11 PDT   
Clinger is still sitting on. They are entering the final straight.

16:11 PDT   
Clinger moves to the front.

16:12 PDT   
Sucessful Living has him boxed in.

16:12 PDT   
Grabinger takes the sprint.

16:12 PDT   
Clinger may have slipped through for second.

16:13 PDT   
Clinger powered out of the final turn and tried to make the race with the deck stacked against him but having three teammates against him was simply too much. Successful Living made the race and gets to take home the ultimate prize. Chapeau.

16:14 PDT   
John Murphy moved off the front of the chase group and takes fifth pace.

16:16 PDT   
Well, that's it for our live coverage of the 2008 Sea Otter NRC Men's pro Circuit race. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full results, a race report and photos later this evening.