North Star Bicycle Festival Final Race Results, Grand Prix Day-5

MEN’S Grand Prix                                                                                                                                   by Lyne Lamoureux
The legendary Stillwater Criterium lived up to its reputation as one of the hardest races in the United States on Sunday. Attacks flew as the racers went up Chilkoot hill which features a 24 degree grade to the finish line. Put under pressure in the final laps, Canadian Ryan Anderson prevailed to win the overall at the North Star Grand Prix, the fourth title in a row for his Optum team. Anderson finished strong by taking third on the sixth and final stage and claimed his first USA Cycling National Racing Calendar overall stage victory.

NSGP-5 stillwater-3“I was glad I was able to be good to finish because the guys rode so well. From day one, the first criterium, we took responsibility for the race and the guys rode pretty much all week.”Anderson said. “For our team it’s a really important race because most of our partners are from the area. I’ve had a bit of a bumpy year, I’ve had some success but I’ve also had some downs this year so to get this win is really motivating for me going forwards with the rest of the year.”

Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman) finished second overall, 16 seconds down while Anderson’s teammate Jesse Anthony was third, a further four seconds down.

Travis McCabe of Team SmartStop put in a blistering attack with three laps to go to take the stage win with the field breathing down his neck.

NSGP-5 stillwater-4“I just went for it, I looked back on the second lap and I had a 15 to 20 seconds gap and I knew that Optum was content in letting someone like me go and they were just really watching [Luis] Amaran [Jamis-Hagens Berman]. So I just put my head down, raced aggressive and stayed away. I couldn’t hear anything, the crowd was loud, everyone was just roaring, it was so awesome.” McCabe said. “I look back halfway up the climb and they’re charging, I look up at the board and see zero laps and so at that point, I just sprinted with whatever I had left out of pure fear and kept it to the line. It’s really exciting, it’s a great win for the team, we’ve had an awesome year.”

The chasing riders caught McCabe at the line. Belgian Gerry Druyts of Team3M was second on the stage.

Both Anderson and McCabe loved the cheering fans that lined the climb. “It was so loud in the beginning, it was hard to keep calm and not get too excited because there was so much cheering, it was so motivating.” Anderson commented.

“It’s such an awesome race.” noted McCabe. “Being able to have everyone there and cheering for you, it really gives this vibe of excitement and really puts you on another level for racing so it’s fantastic.

NSGP-5 stillwater-1As the sun came out after a rainy morning, the riders lined up at the bottom of Chilkoot Hill for 28 laps of pain. The front of the race shuffled and re-shuffled under constant attacking. Seventh overall and 43 seconds down in the general classification, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman) escaped early to put pressure on Anderson. Also off the front were Tom Devriendt (Team 3M), Ben Frederick (Kelly Benefit Strategies Elite), Coulton Hartrich (SeaSucker/Guttenplan Coaching), Gabriel Baca (Elbowz Racing) and Michael Olheiser (Incycle-Predator Components).

Behind the Optum Team lined up at the front of the stretched out field, controlling the pace and keeping the gap to less than 30 seconds. With six laps to go, Ian Crane (Jamis-Hagens Berman) counter-attacked when his teammate was reeled back. Sensing the pressure, riders swarmed the front of the field and Optum lost control for less than two laps.

“I got a little concerned about six laps to go and that’s when Ian Crane hit out and that put us under a little pressure and Jesse jumped on him right away but he went on the climb and it put the guys that were riding earlier under pressure. Thankfully, the three guys that were riding early in the day did a fantastic job.” explained Anderson. “Once Tom came back, then at three to go I felt that we were in a good position, between six and three were a little bit stressful.”

McCabe followed the team plan and launched himself up the climb with three laps to go. “The whole team was disappointed with the way it played out on the second day so we were just out for stage wins and to race aggressively. I was always at the front, riding the waves, staying in the wind and keying off of Jamis mostly and with four laps to go or three, Amaran attacked and pretty much blew the field up, there was five of us that stayed with him. Right after the hill, on the next little climb, everyone sat up and there was a lull and I knew that everyone was hurting so I figured just to go and not look back. So I attacked up and over that, and spent the downhill recovering, going hard the climbs.”

Amaran put in one more attack the final time up the climb but could not drop Anderson.

PennCycle_728x90aAnderson added, “The pressure was just on over the top, Tom was really good here and Jesse, we all stayed together and then Tom pretty much rode the last lap and I slotted in. At first I was sitting behind Amaran but then I decided to get back with the guys and they brought me safely through here [last turn before climb]. Amaran went from the bottom but I was good enough to hang on.”

The Optum team won the overall team classification with three riders in the top five of the general classification.

Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop) retained the green Xcel Energy Sprinter jersey and Fabio Calabria (Horizon Organic/Einstein Bros) took the Sports Beans King of the Hills. Finishing only six seconds down on the stage put Orlando Garibay (Incycle-Predator Components) in the white TRIA Orthopedic Center Best Young Rider jersey and Hartrich in the green North Star Top Amateur jersey. Devriendt was awarded the red Penn Cycle Most Aggressive Rider jersey.

WOMEN’S Grand Prix
Lizzie Williams (Vanderkitten) made her bold solo move with six laps to go out of the 14 lap circuit and held her lead to win the Stillwater Criterium.

NSGP-5 stillwater-7Behind her was the battle for the general classification. Leah Kirchmann (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) and Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare) were both 14 seconds behind Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon) coming into the stage. Powers attacked in the final lap, nearly closing down the gap to Williams, and finished second on the stage but it was not enough to put her in the overall lead. Small finished two seconds behind Powers for third on the stage, and Kirchmann finished a 12 seconds behind Small for fourth on the stage.

Attacks from UnitedHealthcare, Team Optum, and Team TIBCO came from the start, with the lap pace quickening as the attacks and counter attacks grew more frenetic.

NSGP-5 stillwater-8UnitedHealthcare was determined to make the other teams chase. Lauren Tamayo, Rushlee Buchanan, and Sharon Laws saw solo breakaways. Buchanon’s breakaway lasted two laps before being brought back, while Laws was away for one lap on her own before being joined by Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) when Wiles attacked up Chilkoot Hill, with its average 18% grade, to claim Queen of the Mountains points ahead of Laws.

It was this duo that Williams bridged up to before launching her solo attack.

NSGP-5 stillwater-6“In my head I wanted to go at four laps to go,” said Williams. “That break went away and I bridged across, it was just a split second that they eased up, and I just kept going. I got a gap so it was just like a tempo ride, a time trial. The crowd just helped me along so much each time I went up the hill.”

While Williams was up the road, a small group of five containing Laws, Ally Stacher (Specialized-lululemon), Jade Wilcoxson (Team Optum), Jo Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO),  and Flavia Oliveira (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore) were on the chase.

With three laps to go Williams had opened up a gap of over 40 seconds.

“I honestly didn’t know that Lizzie was up the road,” laughed Powers. “I stuck to out team’s plan, and I heard someone say ‘42 seconds’. What? Someone’s up the road?”

That’s when a chase ensued that quickly brought down the time gap as both Specialized-lululemon and Team Optum strung out what was left of the fewer than 20 riders left on course.

With just under two laps to go Kirchmann made her move for the general classification. She and teammate Denise Ramsden headed up Chilkoot Hill with a slight advantage over the group containing Small and Powers. The duo were caught by the top of the hill.

Powers launched her attack after the top of Chilkoot Hill.

“With just under one to go, I could see Tayler was fading a bit, and so that’s when I attacked,” said Powers. “Unfortunately Carmen was just a little too strong. I couldn’t get away from her on the last lap, so kudos to her and her team. My entire team gave everything they had, every single person. We tried, we didn’t quite get it, but it was a good team effort.

”We wanted to either win or go down trying.“

”They did a really good job of attacking me in the last two laps,“ said Small.  ”I wanted to die a thousand deaths, just hold on for dear life. I’m really lucky the girls are so great because I couldn’t have won this race without them. Especially going against UnitedHealthcare and Optum, they both have really strong girls. The girls rode out of their minds today.“

Kelly Catlin (Kakookies Collegiate All-Stars) was the day’s top placed amateur and the only amateur who finished the race without receiving a pro-rated time, extending her lead in the amateur jersey to over 17 minutes.

NSGP-5 stillwater-2The Collegiate All Stars program is designed to give riders a well rounded experience of what it’s like to be on a professional team, from providing technical and physical support in the form of mechanics and a masseuse, to skills development and encouragement.

”Stillwater was a lot of fun,“ said Catlin, who has a double major in bio-mechanical engineering and Chinese with a minor in music at the University of Minnesota. ”It was a really good experience to measure up against the pros. I feel a little more confident now. I feel like if I wanted to go pro I could possibly do it. I’ll try to manage with collegiate cycling for the first few years and see how that goes it goes from there.“

The North Star Grand Prix features the Carla Swart jersey, a jersey of recognition given to the rider who sacrifices the most for her team as voted on by other members of the peloton. This year’s jersey recipient was Joy McCulloch (KHS-Maxxis p/b JAKROO). According to several riders, Joy ”did not care about her time and was worried about the rider on the ground after the crash we were involved in on Friday night. She raced well and fought strong. She represents this sport at it’s highest level.“

Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) had her Xcel Energy Sprint Competition Jersey on lock, coming into stage 6 with enough points to keep her lead even if she didn’t gain any more sprint points.

Wiles secured her Jelly Belly Queen of the Mountains by collecting an additional eight points on the stage.

The Penn Cycle’s Most Aggressive Rider jersey was given to Williams for her impressive solo ride.

For more race results and information click on North Star Bike Festival and Grand Prix.

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