In stark contrast to the gentle winds coming off of the Pacific Ocean just below the race course, Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) and Nikki Butterfield (Webcor Builders) both powered out of their respective fields to win bunch sprints in the Dana Point Grand Prix in the Southern California city of Dana Point on Sunday afternoon.

By Kathie Reid

2009 Dana Point crit: Men's winner Bahati
2009 Dana Point crit: Men’s winner Bahati

Photo: Mitch Clinton

In stark contrast to the gentle winds coming off of the Pacific Ocean just below the race course, Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) and Nikki Butterfield (Webcor Builders) both powered out of their respective fields to win bunch sprints in the Dana Point Grand Prix in the Southern California city of Dana Point on Sunday afternoon.

In its third year, the race was on the National Race Calendar for the first time, and drew its largest crowds to date for festivities that included rock bands along the criterium course, and a “big air harbor jump” demonstration by world champion downhill mountain biker, Brian Lopes.

2009 Dana Point crit: Landis
2009 Dana Point crit: Landis

Photo: Mitch Clinton

Bahati was followed across the line by former Rock Racing teammate and lead-out man, Jeremiah Wiscovitch (Southern California Velo) in second, and Argentinean Sebastian Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home) in third.

Butterfield’s Webcor Builders teammate, Gina Grain took second in the women’s race, followed by Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Sutter Home) in third.

Lots of Attacks … No Successful Breaks

The .8-mile L-shaped course overlooking Dana Point Harbor included six turns that made it difficult for a break to get away in the 90-minute race. This wasn’t for lack of trying, though.

Floyd Landis came to the race with OUCH-Maxxis teammates Rory Sutherland and Roman Kilun looking for a successful break that never came. “It’s a pretty fast course,” Landis explained after the race. “The turns aren’t too tight, so I figured it was gonna be a field sprint no matter what … so we tried (for a break), but it wasn’t a good day for a break.”

OUCH-Maxxis was just one of many teams that attacked and counter-attacked the 110-man field repeatedly. Finally, with six laps to go, Brandon Gritters (Kahala LaGrange), Neil Shirley (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Rudy Napolitano (Liquid Fitness), and Kirk O’Bee (Bissell) broke free, gaining a miniscule 8 to 10 seconds on the field, the biggest break of the day. Daniel Holloway (Garmin-Holoweko Partners-Felt) bridged with three laps to go, but the men of Rock Racing and Colavita-Sutter Home drove the field to catch them with just two laps remaining.

Wiscovitch came into the day anticipating it would be hard for any attacks to succeed, but the break that finally got away gave him a few tense moments. “I got a little nervous when that started to roll, you know,” he said. “They had some horsepower in there. But I noticed Rahsaan had his guys chasing almost everything back today, so I was banking on the fact he would continue to do it … Between them and Colavita, they kinda kept it under control and brought it back.”

Haedo, whose director, Sebastian Alexandre, also hails from Argentina and translated for him after the race, said he came into the day expecting a field sprint, too. As the repeated attacks began to wear the peloton down, though, he started to doubt. “Toward the end, the race started to get a little harder,” he said. “People started to get tired, so there was a chance there’d be a breakaway … (in the break of five, though) there was no Rock and no one from Colavita, so we knew we could bring that break back.”

Wearing his criterium national champion stars and stripes, Bahati seemed to be the only guy who was surprised it ended with a bunch sprint. ““It’s kind of windy, gaps form quick, and guys like Floyd and Rory, all those strong guys, I thought maybe they would ride a little harder and try to split the field, but that didn’t happen,” he said. He realized about 45 minutes into the race that a break wasn’t going to happen. “The race was so fast, people were cornering well, and accelerating. You could just tell a break wasn’t gonna last.”

2009 Dana Point crit.
2009 Dana Point crit.

Photo: Mitch Clinton

Coming into the last lap, Bahati said he just stuck to teammate Nic Sanderson’s wheel. “There was a little bit of fighting, but I think guys have gotta give up when they see me fighting for a wheel, because I don’t give up … So I just followed Nic. He did a great job making sure I was there, looking over his shoulder … I started my sprint 300 out … I mean, it was a drag race, and I was on the far righthand side, maybe six guys in front of me.”

The men of Colavita-Sutter Home had begun setting their lead-out up with two laps to go, just in time to pick up a $2000 prime. Haedo said that he was on teammate Anibal Borrajo’s wheel up front just 180 meters from the final corner into the finish. “Bahati came from the inside, very fast, with another guy on his wheel, and they turned faster than me,” he said. “Once they turned (into the straightaway to the finish), there was no chance.”

When asked by the race announcer at the end of the day how it felt to take the line in his national champion jersey, Bahati said, “Not to sound cocky or anything, but I feel really good about this season, where my career is going, how fast I’m going … I didn’t win this jersey by accident, so that’s what I wanted to show today.”

And though Landis’ OUCH squad came up short, he had only good things to say about the race, held just miles from his Murrieta home. “It’s a really beautiful race,” he said. “It’s got an In-N-Out Burger trailer. What else do you need really?”

Unlucky Break

2009 Dana Point crit.
2009 Dana Point crit.

Photo: Mitch Clinton

In 60 minutes of racing on the same course, the 60-woman field found it nearly impossible to establish a break, as well. And when a somewhat promising break did form just past the halfway mark of the race, a crash behind it put the kibosh on it.

In the 19th lap, a break formed that included seven women representing seven teams: Emma Rickards (Team Tibco), Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita-Sutter Home), Yukie Nakamura (Metromint), Alexis Rhodes (Webcor Builders), Morgan Kapp (Kahala Grange), Nicole Brandt (Proman Hit Squad), and Liza Rachetto (Sugar CRM). They had established about an 8- to 10-second gap when they were stopped by race officials at the start/finish line in the 20th lap. A large crash had occurred on the backside of the course, and the race was shut down to allow ambulances onto the course to help downed riders.

2009 Dana Point crit.
2009 Dana Point crit.

Photo: Mitch Clinton

When the race was re-started, everyone was made to leave the line at the same time. “We thought they might do the time gap,” Grain said after the race. “But they didn’t exactly know where the time gaps were. And you’ve gotta understand, in that kind of situation, it is what it is.”

Teammate Butterfield agreed. “It would have been nice for that to get started the same way (with the members of the break given a head start), but you know, we had the race kind of under control. We weren’t really too worried either way,” she said.

Butterfield said there were attacks going the whole race. “A key part of our tactic was to have one in every break, and we did that really well,” she said. Webcor Builders hoped to have a lead-out that included, in order, Katheryn Curi Mattis, Alexis Rhodes, Butterfield, and Canadian Grain. Butterfield said, “My job was to go right before the last corner. The other girls did a fantastic job. Alexis took a huge pull on the last lap, and they were all over everything the whole race, so we didn’t have to chase, which was really nice. I just went as hard as I could 50 meters from that last corner, and it just happened that we got a pretty good gap. There was just myself and then Gina and a pretty good gap, and so she just basically just let me go across the line first. It was really a gift from her, and that was really nice.”

“It didn’t matter who won the race (between the two of us),” Grain said. “We knew when Nikki jumped … a lot of people couldn’t follow us … We had a gap going into the last corner, and then she took the corner really well, so we pretty much had it from there on.”

2009 Dana Point crit: Women: Coryn Rivera.
2009 Dana Point crit: Women: Coryn Rivera.

Photo: Mitch Clinton

Having arrived at the race without a sprinter, former New Zealand road and track national champion, Cheatley, said that after all the day’s failed breaks, she made it onto the podium for Colavita-Sutter Home by finding the right wheel. “It was one of those sprint finishes where it was more about positioning than about being super, super fast,” she said. “So I just sort of used my track skills, I guess, and tried to pick a wheel and hold it. So I did.”

Race Notes

In the women’s race, 16-year-old Coryn Rivera (Proman Hit Squad) not only made and countered attacks throughout the race, but came across the finish line in fourth — riding junior gears. The Tustin resident holds 18 national champion jerseys in road, track, and cyclocross.

Photo Gallery


Men’s Results: | (Women’s Results)

1. Rahsaan Bahati Rock Racing in 1:27:50
2. Jeremiah Wiscovitch Southern California Velo at smetime
3. Lucas Sebastian Haedo Uci Ct: Colavita Olive Oil/sut in 1:27:51 at smetime
4. Alexander Candelario Uci Ct: Kelly Benefit Strategi in 1:27:51 at smetime
5. Cody O’reilly Uci Ct: Bissell Pro Cycling T in 1:27:51 at smetime
6. Eric Barlevav Uci Ct: Team Mountain Khakis in 1:27:51 at smetime
7. Daniel Holloway Garmin- Holowesko Partners-Fel in 1:27:51 at smetime
8. Paul Che Pista Palace in 1:27:52 at smetime
9. Uriel Rayo in 1:27:52 at smetime
10. Victor Ayala Kahala Lagrange in 1:27:52 at smetime
11. Alexi Martinez Kahala Lagrange in 1:27:52 at smetime
12. Christopher Hipp Labor Power in 1:27:52 at smetime
13. Chris Demarchi Amgen/giant Masters in 1:27:52 at smetime
14. Tony Cruz in 1:27:52 at smetime
15. Kyle Gritters Southern California Velo in 1:27:52 at smetime
16. James Esser Southern California Velo in 1:27:53 at smetime
17. Aram Dellalian Paa/sixtumed in 1:27:53 at smetime
18. Nicholas Brandt-Sorenson Unattached in 1:27:53 at smetime
19. Nicholas Onate Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 1:27:53 at smetime
20. Steve Reaney California Giant Berry Farms/s in 1:27:53 at smetime
21. Andy Jacques-Maynes Uci Ct: Bissell Pro Cycling T in 1:27:53 at smetime
22. Chad Gerlach Uci Ct: Amore E Vita-Mcdonald in 1:27:53 at smetime
23. Jorge Alvarado Kahala Lagrange in 1:27:54 at smetime
24. Diego Yepez Cimarrones Cycling in 1:27:54 at smetime
25. Karl Bordine Mark Reynolds Memorial Bike Fu in 1:27:54 at smetime
26. Jason Lowetz Team Bearclaw in 1:27:54 at smetime
27. Nic Sanderson in 1:27:55 at smetime
28. Justin Kerr Liquid Fitness in 1:27:55 at smetime
29. Floyd Landis Uci Ct: Ouch Presented By Max in 1:27:55 at smetime
30. Anibal Borrajo Uci Ct: Colavita Olive Oil/sut in 1:27:55 at smetime
31. Eric Marcotte Bicycle Haus in 1:27:55 at smetime
32. Davide Frattini Uci Ct: Colavita Olive Oil/sut in 1:27:55 at smetime
33. Alex Howes Clif Bar Development Cross Tea in 1:27:56 at smetime
34. Roman Kilun Ouch in 1:27:56 at smetime
35. Aron Gadhia Velo Club in 1:27:56 at smetime
36. Aaron Quesnell Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 1:27:56 at smetime
37. Hayden Brooks in 1:27:56 at smetime
38. Travis Wilkerson Liquid Cycling Club in 1:27:57 at smetime
39. Dirk Copeland California Giant Berry Farms/s in 1:27:57 at smetime
40. James Gunn-Wilkinson Nytro Racing in 1:27:57 at smetime
41. Danny Finneran Rock Racing in 1:27:57 at smetime
42. Rory Sutherland Uci Ct: Team Ouch Presented By in 1:27:57 at smetime
43. Neil Shirley Uci Ct: Kelly Benefit Strategi in 1:27:58 at smetime
44. John Tzinberg Bike Religion in 1:27:58 at smetime
45. Andrew Salcedo Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 1:27:58 at smetime
46. Waylon Smith British Cycling in 1:27:58 at smetime
47. Robert Kamppila Ca Pools Racing in 1:27:58 at smetime
48. Michael Telega California Giant Berry Farms/s in 1:27:58 at smetime
49. Gustavo-Adolfo Mendez Kahala Lagrange in 1:27:59 at smetime
50. Anthony Morrow Ca Pools Racing in 1:27:59 at smetime
51. Robert Macneill Webcor/alto Velo in 1:27:59 at smetime
52. Reid Mumford in 1:28:00 at smetime
53. Rand Miller Webcor/alto Velo in 1:28:00 at smetime
54. Walker Savidge Felt/holowesko Partners/garmin in 1:28:00 at smetime
55. Scott Zwizanski Uci Ct: Kelly Benefit Strategi in 1:28:01 at smetime
56. Antony Galvan Amgen Giant in 1:28:03 at smetime
57. Chepe Garcia in 1:28:03 at smetime
58. Rafael Valenzuela in 1:28:04 at smetime
59. Sean Nealy Simply Fit/action Sports in 1:28:04 at smetime
60. Caleb Fairly Vmg/felt in 1:28:05 at smetime
61. Osvaldo Olmos Cal Giant Berry in 1:28:05 at smetime
62. Luis Amaran in 1:28:05 at smetime
63. Haldane Morris in 1:28:05 at smetime
64. Matt Landen Liquid Fitness/adageo Energy in 1:28:05 at smetime
65. Thomas Nelson Liquid Fitness/adageo Energy in 1:28:06 at smetime
66. Chris Spence in 1:28:06 at smetime
67. Jeff Prinz in 1:28:07 at smetime
68. Danny Kam Team Bearclaw in 1:28:08 at smetime
69. Frederick Stamm Metromint Cycling On Marin Bik in 1:28:08 at smetime
70. Miguel Meza Coates /on Deck Foundation in 1:28:08 at smetime
71. Jose Quintero Swami’s Cycling Club in 1:28:08 at smetime
72. Caleb Manion in 1:28:08 at smetime
73. Chris Daggs Swami’s Cycling Club in 1:28:09 at smetime
74. Eric Losak Now-Ms Society in 1:28:10 at smetime
75. Justin Fraga Webcor/alto Velo in 1:28:11 at smetime
76. Christopher Mcdonald Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 1:28:13 at smetime
77. Raul Frias Kahala Lagrange in 1:28:14 at smetime
78. Tomo Hamasaki Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 1:28:15 at smetime
79. Patrick Briggs California Giant Cycling in 1:28:17 at smetime
80. Randall Coxworth Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 1:28:24 at 34
81. Bill Short Vision Screen Printing in 1:28:37 at 47
82. Ruben Meza in 1:28:42 at 52
83. K Frank Pipp Uci Ct: Bissell Pro Cycling T in 1:28:43 at smetime
84. Patrick Caro Bike Religion in 1:28:49 at 59
85. Skyler Bishop Swami’s Cycling Club in 1:29:09 at 1:19

Women’s Results: | (Men’s Results)

1. Nikki Butterfield Webcor in 57:40
2. Gina Grain Webcor at smetime
3. Cath Cheatley W-Cycling at smetime
4. Coryn Rivera Proman Hit Squad in 57:41 at smetime
5. Liza Rachetto Sugarcrm in 57:42 at smetime
6. Anna Lang Unattached in 57:42 at smetime
7. Emma Rickards Team Tibco in 57:42 at smetime
8. Kendall Ryan Vrc Now in 57:42 at smetime
9. Starla Teddergreen Sugarcrm in 57:42 at smetime
10. Beatriz Rodriguez Kahala Lagrange in 57:43 at smetime
11. Karla Kingsley Sugarcrm in 57:43 at smetime
12. Pamela Schuster Helens/cannondale in 57:43 at smetime
13. Catherine Fiedler-Cook Leaderbike/canari in 57:43 at smetime
14. Katheryn Curi Mattis Webcor Builders Cycling Team in 57:44 at smetime
15. Tiffany Cromwell Norwood Cc in 57:44 at smetime
16. Stacy Marple Colavita-Sutter Home in 57:44 at smetime
17. Bonnie Breeze Helens/cannondale in 57:44 at smetime
18. Erika Graves Kahala Lagrange in 57:45 at smetime
19. Hilary Crowley Higher Cadence Cycling Club in 57:45 at smetime
20. Dianna Del Fante Higher Cadence Cycling Club in 57:45 at smetime
21. Melinda Weiner Kahala Lagrange in 57:45 at smetime
22. Jennifer Weinbrecht Swami’s Cycling Club in 57:45 at smetime
23. Yukie Nakamura Metromint Cycling in 57:46 at smetime
24. Trina Jacobson Dewalt Racing in 57:46 at smetime
25. Deborah Durand Helens/cannondale in 57:46 at smetime
26. Alexis Rhodes in 57:46 at smetime
27. Kara Vidaca Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 57:47 at smetime
28. Patricia Bailey Union Bay Cycling/wines Of Wa in 57:47 at smetime
29. Simone Morissette Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 57:47 at smetime
30. Alicia Boland Higher Cadence Cycling Club in 57:47 at smetime
31. Nicole Brandt Proman in 57:48 at smetime
32. Amy Hutner Kahala Lagrange in 57:48 at smetime
33. Patricia Black Morgan Stanley/team Spine/spec in 57:49 at smetime
34. Morgan Kapp Kahala Lagrange in 57:49 at smetime
35. Karen Meske Kahala Lagrange in 57:51 at smetime
36. Rachel Heal Colavita-Sutter Home in 57:51 at smetime
37. Sabrina Savage Veloforma in 57:51 at smetime
38. Martina Patella Valueact Capital Cycling Team in 57:52 at smetime
39. Ashley Anderson Proman in 57:53 at smetime
40. Laura Hines Southern California Velo in 57:53 at smetime
41. Lana Atchley Unattached in 57:53 at smetime
42. Lisa Young Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 57:53 at smetime
43. Kathryn Donovan Kahala Lagrange in 57:56 at 16
44. Cheryl Roth Helens/cannondale in 57:59 at 19
45. Kelli Jones South Bay Wheelmen in 57:59 at smetime
46. Melinda Johnson Acqua Al 2/san Diego Bicycle C in 58:01 at smetime
47. Cari Higgins Proman Hit Squad in 58:01 at smetime