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Clay Murfet scores win at Giro d’ Grafton

A year ago during the USA Crits Series stop at the Giro d’ Grafton leg of the Tour of America’s Dairyland presented by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, announcer Brad Sohner described Rahsaan Bahati (SKLZ pb Pista Palace) as the “Human Rocketship.”

A true statement to be sure but this sun-drenched, six-deep crowd a year later witnessed Bahati among the few to be, in Sohner’s words this time, “trying to catch the last seat on a moving airplane.” That plane ── a seven-man break ── succeeded and Clay Murfet (RideClean pb Patentit.com) was the man who piloted it into the line to take the win.

That dominating force, which could have been ticketed for excessive speed on that same Grafton thoroughfare on any other day of the year, was a seven-man breakaway of Murfet, Christian Helmig (Elbowz Racing), Juan Pablo Dotti (Aerocat), Luca Damiani (Kenda 5-hour Energy pb Geargrinder), Neil Bezdek, (Team Mountain Khakis), hometown rider Andy Crater (Serenity Bikes pb Yoga 1 Studio) and Marc Prutton (Stan’s No Tubes/AXA Equitable).

For nearly 10 laps, the magnificent seven slipped farther and farther ahead of the field, ruling the ToAD Stage 3 tight, technical course. Bahati and Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) were reaching hard but kept missing the riders up the road who were pulling hard. With Prutton falling off with 10 remaining, the 6-man break hung together.

Finding their rhythm, the party of six increased the gap to nearly 40 seconds, with Cantwell breathing hard on their heels, chasing a $200 prime as added incentive. Two to go, it was the Kenda 5-hour Energy pb Geargrinder assembly line working overtime to lead the field.

But all eyes were on the power of six, who slowed the pace with one to go, bringing the crowd to its toes. Once the all-out battle ensued, Murfet, Dotti and Bezdek were left standing tallest, respectively, at 1-2-3, with Crater and his deep Wisconsin roots, planted firmly in 4th.

Super charged Bahati, who won the 2010 USA Crits Giro d’ Grafton race, beat out Cantwell by a half tire in the field sprint, while staying in the Yellow and White Overall Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Leader’s Jersey. Aerocat takes over the lead in the 5-hour Energy Team Omnium.

Logan Owen (Hagens Berman pb Attitude Sports), at 15 years of age and in the Oarsman Capital Cat 2 Amateur Green Jersey, will be one to watch over the remaining eight days of ToAD, which continues Father’s Day at the Carl Zach Cycling Classic in Waukesha.

For its finale next weekend, Pro Men racers will have an opportunity to win over $10,000 in primes alone during Saturday’s ISCorp Downer Classic, thanks in large part to Ben’s Cycle and ISCorp. The Madison Capital Criterium pb American Family Insurance and Trek Bicycle next Sunday will offer Pro Men at least $3,500 in primes.

Pro Women will have their share of prime money to go after next weekend as well, and given the feats of strength we’ve already seen from the fields, sparks will fly in the street. In Grafton, the field lit up for a mid-race prime, and let it fly from there.

With five remaining, Kristen Lasasso (Mellow Mushroom) inched off the front as Team Kenda pb Geargrinder pushed hard on the backside with three to go. Everyone back together with two remaining, the magic eight ball came back: anyone’s race. Lasasso still led the parade with one lap to go, ultimately leading teammate Laura Van Gilder to victory and two arms in the Becker Law Pink Overall Leader’s Jersey. Erica Allar (RideClean pb Patentit.com) and Cari Higgins (Peanut Butter & Co.) stood second and third on the podium. Mellow Mushroom retains the lead in the 5-hour Energy Team Omnium standings.

For complete race coverage: www.TourofAmericasDairyland.com

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