15,000 dollars on the line. An undulating 6 corner course returning 90 second lap times. A field featuring criterium aces, Jonathan Cantwell, Ben Kerstens (V Australia) , Brad Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), and Rahsaan Bahati (Skilz/Piste) as well as speedsters, Kayle Leo Grande (Monster Media) and Bernie Sulzberger (V Australia). Add in a sunny Southern California day, shake, stir and pour out a fantastic day of racing. First on the bill, a one hour show from the women.
The women: Grom power!
The women lined up 30 strong. A fast but fairly neutral race ensued with riders attempting to break free, only to be shut down by a field without a strong team presence. TIBCO junior Rider Alexis Ryan showed herself near the front most of the afternoon, and finished a respectable sixth on the day.
The race winner, 17 year old Jennifer Valente (Adams Avenue Bicycles) charged to the line from 200 meters. Valente has a background in track, and is rated one of the fastest American women at 200 meters.
The Men: Power of the pros
The men lined up. Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia) sporting his Australian National Criterium Champion Jersey, Rahsaan Bahati (Skilz/Pista Palace), and Brad Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) all seemed ready to do battle on the fast Dana Point Circuit. 90 minutes went on the clock, and the race went out. Fast. A steady stream of attacks went off on the three corner back side of the course. Here the course also went up hill into turn five. The pack stretched through this section often with the head out of sight of the tail. A short, slightly down hill straight lead back on to the front straight. The start/finish located half way along the front side, was at the top of a short rise. Riders coming off turn 6 on to the rising section were treated to the sight of the entire peloton stretched for 200 meters or more.
The first attack to stick came in the form of Orange County local Devon Dunn (Cash Call Mortgage). Dunn went out to a 15 second lead which he held for a couple of laps before a determined field brought him back. The next move to hold was instigated by Bahati. He took 22 riders with him, including Sulzberge, Dunn, Ben Kersten (V Australia) and Huff. This was the break that stuck. Cantwell was content to remain in the main field and towards the end was joined by a V Australia rider who dropped out of the break late, to control tempo. With three to go Dunn went hunting on his own again, holding a lead that was only pulled down in the last 200 meters by a hard charging Huff. Bahati finished second, followed by Kersten.
Brad Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) on the line for the win.
Devon Dunn (Cash Call Mortgage) on his late solo flyer
The full gallery is here at fredmarx.photoshelter.com.
Full results can be found here at USAC.