Cesar Grajales (Realcyclist.com) is known as a climber, but the relatively flat terrain at the inaugural Sunbrella Labor Day Omnium didn’t prevent him from ascending to the top of the podium over the holiday weekend in Anderson, South Carolina. After taking second place in the first two stages, Grajales retained enough points to finish the three-day NRC event ahead of Demis Aleman (Jamis-Sutter Home) and Thomas Brown (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop).
In the women’s event, Maryland’s Sarah Fader (Team Sticky Fingers) won both the circuit race and criterium, and came fifth in the time trial, to win the omnium ahead of Lenore Pipes (MVP Health Care) and Addyson Albershardt (MS-Now).
Baker fastest at opening time trial in his own backyard
The first half of the stage 1 time trial saw competitors rotating through the leader’s hot seat, as riders posted increasingly fast times on the technical, 4.87-mile course. The rotation appeared to end, however, when Grajales set a best time of 9:00 midway through the event.
Grajales remained unchallenged until the final starter and hometown favorite Andy Baker (Bissell) posted a time four seconds faster. Baker, who ran cross country in high school and ran his personal best at the same venue, completed the time trial in 8:56 and averaged 32.7 mph on the winding and mildly hilly course.
Frank Travieso (Realcyclist.com) finished third, less than one second slower than his teammate Grajales.
In the women’s race, North Carolina’s Albershardt posted a 10:32 to win, five seconds ahead of Shannon Greenhill (Peachtree Bikes) and 15 seconds ahead of Peggy LeGrand (U.S Military). Fader was fifth at 38 seconds.
Brown bests Grajales in stage 2 criterium, Fader takes first sprint win
Thomas Brown (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop) prevailed in the stage 2 criterium, edging out Grajales in a two-man breakaway. Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop) rounded out the podium by taking the field sprint ahead of Travieso.
Brown and Grajales distanced themselves from the main field after a series of sprint primes for omnium points induced a period of fast and hectic racing. With about 20 minutes remaining in 75-minute criterium, Grajales attacked at the start/finish line, and Brown was quick to follow. The pair soon gained a 30-second advantage and moved out of sight on the dark, four-corner course in downtown Anderson.
Grajales and Brown worked together until the final lap, when Grajales attacked on the course’s uphill backstretch leading into a narrow third corner. Brown immediately accelerated into Grajales’ slipstream, waiting to jump around him until the long and slightly downhill section leading to the finish.
Earlier, Fader outkicked Pipes and Albershardt in the 50-minute women’s race
Aleman wins finale, shakes up GC
With few points separating the top five riders on GC, tactics in stage 3’s 70-mile circuit race were defined by leaders and their teams working to keep rivals in check. Top-placed riders Grajales, Brown, Travieso, Baker, and Daniel Holt (Team Type 1) repeatedly tried to escape ahead of the main field, while opponents dutifully chased them down.
Demis Aleman (Jamis-Sutter Home), who started the day eighth on GC, was the spoiler, winning the stage from a late seven-man breakaway. Points from his victory, in addition to points from two mid-race sprints, pushed him up to second place overall.
In the women’s race, Sunday’s podium repeated itself, with Fader again prevailing ahead of Pipes and Albershardt.