Against the Wind... A race of attrition that whittled the field to a skeleton of
hardy survivors... Kiwi Hayden Roulston makes it a HealthNet Double Weekend.
McLane Pacific Classic Foothills Road Race (Men)
The 120-mile McLane Pacific Foothills Road Race is
one in which the weather conditions often have a greater impact on the racing
than the course; the Spring weather in the Central Valley in California is a
cauldron of unpredictable conditions. The winds and rain can turn the race into
one where attrition due to the elements is the deciding factor of the days
racing... and so it was this year.
So while mild weather led to field sprint finishes favoring winners Gord Fraser
(2004) and J.J.Haedo (2005) the fierce winds in this year's edition pared the
field down to about a dozen riders who battled it out for the win.
2006 Health Net signing Kiwi Hayden Roulston led the
field sprinters to the line with Toyota/United Pro's Ivan Dominguez second, Mark
McCormack (Colavita/Sutter Home) third, Karl Menzies (Health Net/Maxxis) and
Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada's Ben Jacques-Maynes fifth across the line.
Ben Jacques Maynes: "There were about 30 guys in the
front group with a lap to go and at half-a-lap to go there were about 12 guys
left," recalled Jacques-Maynes. "But I was riding comfortably and had a good
position thanks to my teammates, and I survived the crosswind onslaught."
After an aggressive day in the McLane Classic G.P.
which produced garnered Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada's Jackson Stewart second
he finished 13th for the day, while teammate Pete Lopinto came in 17th, earning
his second top-20 finish of the weekend.
1. Hayden Roulston (HealthNet/Maxxis)
2. Ivan Dominguez (Toyota/UnitedPro)
3. Mark McCormack (Colavita/SutterHomeWines)
4. Karl Menzies (HealthNet/Maxxis)
5. Ben Jacques Maynes (KodakGalleries.com/SierraNevada)
Full results when available.
Health Net/Maxxis Report:
The conditions for the McLane Pacific Foothills Road Race were reminiscent of
what you might see at a northern European classic or semi-classic. So maybe it
wasn’t such a surprise that Hayden Roulston of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team
Presented by Maxxis – a rider who finished in the top 10 at Kurne-Brussels-Kurne
last spring – won today’s 120-mile race.
The win was a textbook example of how a strong team
can take control of a race run under less than ideal conditions, in this case
cold with high winds, and shatter the field.
Early on, a series of attacks finally led to the only successful break of the
day, which included Health Net/Maxxis teammates Roulston and Mike Sayers, Victor
Rapinski (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United). However, Stevic
wasn’t contributing to the workload, so Roulston did what he had to do to unload
the passenger. Sitting third wheel, with Stevic behind him, he let off the gas
and let a gap open to Sayers and Rapinski.
Roulston and Stevic drifted back to the peloton,
while Sayers and Rapinski gradually edged away from the bunch. “Sayers being in
the break was instrumental to us getting the win today,” said Karl Menzies of
Health Net Presented by Maxxis, who finished fourth today, despite losing a bit
of skin on one of his knees in an early wreck. “Him being up there gave the rest
of us a free ride. He worked hard, and that’s what set us up. Toyota, Jelly
Belly and Kodakgallery had to do most of the chasing.”
Behind the two break-away riders, Health Net/Maxxis
had decided to do some damage of their own. “We planned on hitting it hard in
one particular stretch (on the backside of the circuit) where the crosswinds
were the worst,” Menzies said. “We rode in numbers and really drove the pace.”
Stretching out across the road in an echelon to
battle the crosswinds, the team hit the gas on the front and immediately
shattered the field. “I think the first time doing it, we got rid of 30 guys and
put the hurt on a lot of others,” Menzies said.
With a lap and a half (36 miles) remaining, the front
bunch was down to 30 guys, seven of whom were from Health Net Presented by
Maxxis, but the diminished pack was closing in on the two riders in the break.
On the final lap, with the gap down to just 40 seconds and the catch inevitable,
the chasing pack hit the last stretch of crosswinds. Health Net put all seven of
its riders on the front and drilled it. When the dust had settled, the remnants
of the front group numbered just 12, with Roulston, Menzies and Greg Henderson
giving Health Net/Maxxis the numbers.
Then the attacks began.
“We were going to save Hendy for the sprint,” Menzies
explained. “So Roulston attacked first, but was caught after a bit. Then I had a
go at it, but I was caught pretty straight away. Roulston had another go and
this time he stayed away. United was chasing but nobody could get up to him.” In
the end, Roulston won by a comfortable margin of nearly 15 seconds.
In the sprint for second, Ivan Dominguez
(Toyota-United) beat out Mark McCormack (Colavita-Sutter Home). Menzies said he
was a bit late reacting to the sprint and had to work his way through several
other riders to get the fourth position. Ben Jaques-Maynes (Kodakgallery.com-Sierra
Nevada) finished out the top five.
Notes: Henderson and Roulston left almost immediately
after the race to catch a flight to Australia, where they will represent New
Zealand in the Commonwealth Games