Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) and Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant-Specialized) prevailed in Friday’s Uptown Minneapolis Criterium, stage 4 of the North Star Grand Prix.
Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon) and Ryan Anderson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) retained their overall leads.
In the women’s contest, a massive crash midway through the 28-lap race saw nearly half the peloton go down. After 20 minutes, the race was restarted with 10 laps to go.
“The restart definitely threw a little bit of a curveball into everything,” said Rivera. “It shook up our rhythm. Going into the final we lost our footing a little bit, were a little shuffled around, but Alison [Powers] and my teammates got me up there. With one to go Alison drilled down the front, I stuck on her wheel and she pretty much delivered me to the line.”
Optum teammates Leah Kirchmann and Lauren Hall finished second and third.
“We had control of the race until a lap and a half to go when Alison jumped us with Coryn,” said Kirchmann. “I was able to slot in with Lauren on my wheel and we followed them as Alison gunned it on the last lap. It was chaotic in the last corner but Lauren and I were happy to hang on for second and third.”
Race leader Small, who spent the day chasing bonus seconds, said the final laps “were very stressful” for a team with only five riders battling the other squads’ eight-woman lineups. “It’s hard for me by myself when there are two lead-out trains. It was hard to take position for the sprint and I was too far back to put in a good sprint.
”But it’s okay, our goal was to keep the jersey, and I actually gained time [on Powers].“
Small now sits 14 seconds ahead of second-placed Powers on GC, with Kirchmann third at 22 seconds.
Men: A break fights for the win
In the men’s race, a five-man group — Ortenblad, U.S. national road champion Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop), Timothy Stevens (Team 3M), Andrew Dahlheim (Athlete Octane Cycling) and David Santos (KHS-Maxxis) — escaped after just six of 35 laps, to the pleasure of the enthusiastic crowd.
Race leader Anderson’s Optum squad liked the combination up the road and settled in to control the pace for the rest of the race.
The five riders worked well together, each taking pulls, pushing the gap to almost the one-minute mark. But the cooperation ended on the bell lap, which saw the 19-year old Ortenblad sitting third wheel, watching Marcotte, who accelerated on the backstretch.
“I knew it was going to be really hard to beat Marcotte. He just won nationals,” said Ortenblad. “I just knew that I wasn’t going to come around until I saw the line. It was hard to stay on his wheel but I was in a good position to do it and then, when we came to the sprint, I just went.”
Added Marcotte: “They didn’t want to come around. Once we came to one to go, I was on the front until the last three inches.”
Anderson retains the overall lead by 16 seconds over Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman) with Heath Blackgrove (Boneshaker D1 Racing) third at 17 seconds.
Racing continues Saturday with the 95-mile Menomonie Road Race through rolling farmland in the heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country and finishes with multiple laps of an in-town circuit.