Monday, March 17, 2008

Sequoia Classic's a Wrap

The pro women put on a great show yesterday at the Visalia Criterium, as it was fast and furious from the start. You can read my article here. And I promised to put up some of my own pics from Saturday's Yokohl Ranch Exeter Time Trial (keeping in mind I am NOT a photog!), so there are a few here, along with some from yesterday's crit.

This is Mark and Sheri on Friday before a "fun ride" of the time trial course for media, community members, and racers.
She's so famous that I probably don't need to put a caption, but for those of you NOT in the know, this is the Bay Area's pro racing sweetheart, Martina Patella (aka, Yellow Bug on my rockin' blogs list), at the start of the time trial. The dude who held her saddle (certainly every man's dream job) is Sheri's hubbie, and one of my first cycling coaches, Tim. He started every racer, including the pro men (my dream job...) and all the amateur categories -- that's a lot of saddle holding!

This is the winningest female cyclist in America, with over 300 career wins -- yes, 300! Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder. She is from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, where her family has a restaurant in a place kinda like Bridgeport. And though she is a fierce competitor and an AMAZING sprinter, you would be hard-pressed to find a more humble and gracious woman anywhere. She is a class act -- no doubt about it.
And another class act, one of Laura's stellar lead-outs, Kelly Benjamin. She's a full-time firefighter in her non-cycling life, and is a total hammer on the bike.
This is Kate Ross, a fellow Boulder-ite, and one of a great group of women on the America's Dairyland team. She upgraded last year from a cat 4 to a cat 2 -- in one season! -- so now races with pros. Got to chat with her at the Frostbite Time Trial back in Colorado a few weeks ago, and it's fun to see her racing with the heavy-hitter women now.
Seriously, no introductions needed here...the world champ, Kristin Armstrong, adjusting her helmet at the start before absolutely burning up the course. And, apparently, bleeding on it a bit, too...she got a bloody nose along the way and, in true competitive fashion, just kept cranking the pedals, leaving a trail of red behind her! No doubt there were flames on the road, too.
Honestly, I don't know how this happened...catching Anne Samplonius, the Canadian national time trial champ, with her tongue out. I met her for the first time this weekend right after the time trial podium, as she took fourth. Super nice gal who's joined Cheerwine this year, and I look forward to seeing her at more races, too.
And one more great gal from Cheerwine -- Leigh Hobson. She took second last year at the time trial, so because Colavita / Sutter Homes' Alison Powers (the winner) wasn't here this year, she was slated to hit the course last. She's soft-spoken, but a super time trialist and lead-out.
About halfway through the women's field, a woman named Kristy Gough was supposed to ride. She was killed last weekend in a tragic crash in the Bay Area, along with one of her training partners, Matt Peterson. Apparently, a sheriff's deputy fell asleep at the wheel of his car, and went straight around a turn, going into the left lane and hitting Kristy, Matt, and another cyclist (in critical condition) from Germany head-on as they were descending -- horrific for all involved. The gentleman on the left is a USA Cycling official who was starting the women, and the other gentleman is a good friend of Kristy's. He's holding her race number, and announcer Dave Towle asked for a moment of silence in her honor. A heartbreaking moment, but such a beautiful symbol of how supportive and close the cycling community is.
These are pictures of Matt and Kristy that the Sequoia Classic organizing committee had framed and signed by athletes in attendance. They'll be presented to their families. The photos are shots of them on the podium in Merced just two weeks before the accident.
And we continue to pedal....this is Felicia Gomez, Kristin Armstrong, and Alex Rhodes in the top three spots on the Exeter Time Trial podium.
And then it was Sunday, and time for the Visalia Criterium. Before the women raced, there was a kids' race, and who was the first child I noticed cross the line? None other than Avery, the 2-year-old daughter of Vee, one of my friends here in Fresno who raced for Central Valley Cycling. The next generation in the making -- and she's looking FAST in those pink specs!
There was also a men's pro race, though I didn't cover it because it wasn't NRC. This is the winner, Colavita / Sutter Homes' Sebastian Haedo balancing his box of oranges after the podium ceremony while talking to a local reporter. Probably not something the Argentinean rider -- and brother to JJ! -- typically has to balance on the bike!
Sebastian's teammate, Alejandro Borrajo, also from Argentina, took third. Olive two cases of oranges. Yummy!
There was also a walk/run to benefit the Jeff Barnes Brain Injury Foundation, and all ages were encouraged to participate. This little guy (girl?) made it all the way around the .7 mile course!
This is Rory Sutherland, an Aussie racer on Health Net, cooling down after the men's race. Kinda photogenic, aye?
And finally, the women's pro/1/2 race! The call-up started things off, and Laura Van Gilder and Felicia Gomez were two of the racers announced. Fun to see women who are so competitive also show great camaraderie and respect for each other.
The Proman racer here is Megan Guarnier -- remember that name. She is about to head over to Europe with a new USA Cycling program that is developing young, relatively unknown, but promising American riders by sending them to race in Europe. She will be racing in some French Cup races, and I'm starting an article about her and two other racers for USA Cycling's newsletter.
Team Tibco's super sprinter and national team member, Brooke Miller (left) and ValueAct Capital's rockin' sprinter, Martina Patella, were also called up, and chatted it up for a few seconds before the start.
No action shots during the race -- certainly don't have the camera for that! -- but there was plenty of action, including two crashes. The first one brought about 35 women into the pit for their free lap! You can see all the action, though, on, as they filmed and have the race archived. I'm not sure they caught the big crash, but likely caught the second one coming into the final stretch.

But I did get some podium shots, and like this one of the women raising their oranges above their heads...strong to the end! (l to r: Lauren Franges, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Brooke Miller)


Anonymous said...

Great write up and shots! It was wonderful to see you again in the Central Valley too... HH

StevenCX said...

"The Proman racer here is Megan Guarnier -- remember that name."