Rather than aiming for a win, Shawn Milne (Team Type 1) started Sunday’s U.S. Air Force Classic in Arlington, Virginia, planning to spend the day working for his team’s sprinters, Kenneth Hanson, who’d been second at the Clarendon Cup the day before, and Serbian Aldo Ino Ilesic. A few laps of the 7.8 mile circuit later, he wasn’t sure he could even do that. But by race’s end, it was Milne throwing his hands up at the line.
“I felt terrible all day,” Milne said at the finish. “I went up to (teammate) Matt Wilson and said, ‘look, you have to take care of (Hanson) – I have no pop, I can’t accelerate and hold it.’ He said fine, you cover moves.”
All the Right Moves
The move Milne ended up covering was a 15-rider move that rolled clear of the field with slightly more than a lap and a half of the 14-lap, 109-mile contest remaining. Racing towards the KOM point, situated on the brick entryway to the soaring Air Force Memorial overlooking the grounds of the Pentagon, the move carved out a tenuous 100-meter gap. The group stretched those meters to a 35-second advantage on the descent that took the race from the memorial southeast to the shores of the Potomac River’s Boundary Channel and rolled through the flats to the finish in Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood.
Along with Milne and Wilson, those who made the big move included Davide Frattini (Colavita), Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast), Andrew Pinfold (Ouch-Maxxis), Francois Parisien (Planet Energy), Jonathan Garcia and Chad Beyer (both BMC), Fred Rodriguez (Rock Racing), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell), Charles Dionne and Allesandro Bazzana (both Fly V Australia), Yuriy Metlushenko and Chad Gerlach (both Amore & Vita) and Will Hoffarth (Mountain Khakis).
With the bell for the final lap ringing in his ears, Dionne was the first to hit out in an effort to narrow the selection. Accelerating through the circuit’s technical southern turnaround, Dionne drew out Frattini, Zwizanski, Milne, and Vennell in what would prove to be the deciding move. Milne never looked back.
“When I get into a position like that and I know I have (Wilson) back there, my role is to win or get caught,” said Milne.
The rest of the break clearly felt similarly, as the five stretched their advantage to 15 seconds over the course of the hectic final lap. Closing in on the line, however, all bets were off. Zwizanski, facing several quicker finishers, tried his hand at an escape several times to no avail. As the line approached, Milne, who packs a powerful sprint from a small bunch, was content to play the waiting game – with his competitors and himself.
“I was just waiting and hoping,” said Milne of the final dash to the line. “I’m so glad they had signs, because I think I would have gone a little earlier. I was like, ‘I’m going to wait until 200 (meters). I’m going to wait.’ I waited like 10 seconds longer than I would have.”
Milne’s timing proved just right, as he came from third wheel and held off the charging Dionne and Zwizanski for the win. Frattini took a close fourth, while Vennell trailed in two seconds later for the fifth spot.
Points for Persistence
Following his long day out at Saturday’s Clarendon Cup, it was again Chad Gerlach who opened up the day’s action, taking top points in the sprint competition on the first three laps as the peloton remained together. On Sunday, however, Gerlach wouldn’t be part of the day’s long break. That honor would go to Ben Jacques Maynes (Bissell) and Andrew Randell (Planet Energy), who carved out a 30 second advantage between the KOM point and the finish line on the fourth lap. A lap later, the pair hit an even minute, prompting the first earnest chase of the day from Dave Bozak (DC Velo) and Brian Butts (Battley Harley Davidson), who were reinforced a lap later by Waylon Woolcock (Medscheme) and Jonathan Garcia (BMC).
Over the next several laps, the gap from break to peloton would fluctuate between 55 seconds and two minutes, with Jacques Maynes swallowing all the KOM points and Randell taking the maximum sprint points each lap. It wasn’t until the first half of the ninth lap that Woolcock and Garcia, having shed Butts and Bozak, would make contact with the leading pair, establishing a four-man leading group. That combination would last another two laps before finally being brought to heel by the field, setting the stage for the decisive move of the day.
While it didn’t net them race win, the long move proved profitable for three of its members. Jacques Maynes took home the KOM title for his efforts, while Randell locked up the sprint title, despite Gerlach claiming points again in the waning laps of the race. Garcia, who bridged to the first break and then recovered in time to try his hand in the 15-man split, earned the most aggressive rider prize.
U.S. Air Force Classic
Arlington, VA, May 31
1. Shawn Milne, Team Type 1, 109 miles in 4:12:34
2. Charles Dionne (CAN), Fly V Australia
3. Scott Zwizanski, Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast
4. Davide Frattini (ITA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home
5. Jeremy Vennell, Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:02
6. Andrew Pinfold (CAN), OUCH/Maxxis, at 0:15
7. Francois Parisien (CAN), Planet Energy
8. Yuriy Metlushenko (UKR), Amore&Vita-Lifetime-Velo Vie
9. Allesandro Bazzana (ITA), Fly V Australia
10. Chad Beyer, BMC Racing