Field sprints were the order of the day at the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove on Saturday as Fly V Australia’s John Cantwell kicked to victory in stage 2 of the men’s race while Jennifer Purcell (Team Hotel San Jose-Juwi Solar) took the women’s opener.
The day’s marquee events began with the 50-minute women’s criterium, which saw Purcell come out just ahead of Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) with Lauren Tamayo (Lauren Tamayo) third. Purcell said she used the winds to her advantage, “striking at the right moment,” even though it meant going earlier than she had planned.
The action started early in the men’s 96-mile AXA Equitable road race — by the second lap Jim Stemper (Kenda-Geargrinder), Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia) and Kyle Wamsley (Bissell) were off and on their way to opening a lead of more than three minutes on the main field.
Jelly Belly-Kenda missed the break and organized the chase as the escapees gobbled up the points and bonus seconds. But when some Kelly Benefit Strategies riders attacked late in the race the chase was on.
Chris Horner (Team RadioShack) tried to bridge to the break with about one and a half laps to go, but his attack was expected and doomed to fail.
The finale saw some disruption in the sprinters’ trains, and 2008 Elk Grove champion David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) hoped to capitalize on the confusion with what he called “the greatest lead-out” from teammate Alex Candelario.
The two were well positioned when it came down to the final dash to the line, but it was V Australia’s Cantwell who sealed the deal. Veilleux acknowledged that Cantwell as a pure sprinter is hard to beat, and was happy to move up a few places in the overall.
As for Cantwell, he said: “You know how sprinting goes, a little luck on your side, a little luck in your legs, there you go.”
Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) moved into the overall lead after finishing third behind runner-up Veilleux. Michael Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) sits second overall at five seconds back with Peter Latham (Bissell) third in the same time.
The Tour of Elk Grove concludes on Sunday with criteriums for both men and women.