Rory Sutherland stamped his name on Chilkoot Hill for the second consecutive year, winning the final stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix Sunday.
Yellow jersey Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) closed on a solo Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) on the 20-percent finish climb to roll in for second and secure the final overall classification.
Anthony entered the day with a 12-second advantage over Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly-Kenda). Both riders made an elite selection with three laps to go, but when Sutherland attacked on the penultimate climb he caught Van Ulden out. Anthony led a three-rider chase and pushed hard to the finish and the GC win.
“Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth has been working super hard all year,” Anthony said. “We’ve been racing aggressively in every race we’ve done and we threw it down this week as hard as we could. Everyone went in 110 percent, everyone on the team was committed and it ended up working out for us.
“The crowd here in Stillwater is unbelievable. It rivals the Mayanunk Wall in Philadelphia. The hill is unexplainable until you really do it, even if you’re having the best of days, it hurts so much. I had great legs today and all week, but it was a battle to stay up front and stay with my teammates and follow the wheels at the end.”
Anthony took control of the overall race with a late breakaway Saturday in the 100-mile Menomonie Road Race. All that stood in his way to the final GC was 20 laps on the hardest criterium on this year’s NRC at Stillwater. The Chilkoot Hill ramp acted as the start and finish climb and riders faced its 20-percent ramp 21 times.
The day’s long breakaway rode free when Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell) and Timothy Rugg (Nature Valley Pro Ride) jumped out of the group early. Michael Creed and Jason Donald led the peloton in pursuit for their KBS teammate Anthony.
With 12 to go, Dahlheim’s teammate Jeremy Vennell jumped away on the climb and bridged to the move over a lap. That brought Sutherland’s stage-hunting UHC squad to the front for the first time. For the next eight laps, they would share the workload with Anthony’s green train, UHC pulling on the descent and KBS returning to the front on the climb.
Vennell went to the front of the breakaway and pulled the gap upward. With eight to go, his pace on Chilkoot was too much for Dahlheim. Rugg hung tight, their advantage 25 seconds.
“I was just happy to be able to hang with him and give what I could,” said Rugg. “I couldn’t give much, but was happy to get out and ride with those guys.”
With UHC sharing the work on the tip of the 40-rider peloton, the gap began to come down five laps from the finish. Vennell pulled Rugg around the course while their lead dropped five seconds a lap.
With three laps to go, Rugg struggled on the pedals up the climb, throwing his shoulders over his handlebars 12 seconds ahead of the peloton. Tyler Wren and fourth overall Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home) attacked the field midway up the climb. Anthony and Sutherland closed the gap and a selection of 10 emerged: Robert Förster leading on the descent with Sutherland and another UHC teammate; Anthony protected by teammates Alex Candelario and Jason Donald; Van Ulden in his red most aggressive rider jersey; Amaran and Wren; and Frank Pipp (Bissell).
Förster drilled the descent and caught Vennell and Rugg, who could not match the pace after spending so much time off the front. A lap later the 10 leaders were out of sight of the chase group. Sutherland sat third wheel as the leaders neared the base of Chilkoot Hill, Anthony tucked in behind him. Van Ulden sat four wheels back.
As they arrived to the climb, Sutherland struck out, his long frame bending his bike back and forth. He rose up the wall, Amaran in pursuit with Anthony on his wheel. Pipp was the last to catch onto Anthony atop the climb, but Sutherland was gone. Anthony and Amaran drove the chase, but the Aussie zipped his jersey and carried more than 10 seconds to the base of the final climb.
Sutherland ran up the climb with enough pace to hold off a charging Anthony and raised his arms across the line.
“Last year was beautiful,” Sutherland said. “But this year, being actually able to enjoy the climb on the last time instead of having to sprint up, was nice.”
The yellow jersey closed to Sutherland’s wheel and came through arms raised as well, ahead of Amaran.
Van Ulden had 25 seconds to give Amaran to retain his runner-up spot and fought to the top of Chilkoot to lock in his GC standing.
- 1. Rory Sutherland, UnitedHealthcare, 1:09:50
- 2. Jesse Anthony, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, at 0:01
- 3. K Frank Pipp, Bissell, at 0:03
- 4. Bernard Van Ulden, Jelly Belly-Kenda, at 0:06
- 5. Luis Romero Amaran, Jamis Sutter Home, at 0:06
- 1. Jesse Anthony, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, 9:56:32
- 2. Bernard Van Ulden, Jelly Belly-Kenda, at 0:17
- 3. Luis Romero Amaran, Jamis Sutter Home, at 0:45
- 4. Andres Diaz Corrales, Team Exergy, at 1:16
- 5. K Frank Pipp, Bissell, at 2:47