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By Robbie Stout
Alex Candelario (Jelly Belly) won the first of two criteriums in thisyear’s Tour de Nez on a beautiful Friday evening in Truckee, California. The local favorite took advantage of a mid-race break and capped offhis effort with a ferocious sprint.
Finishing just half of a wheel length behind Candelario was Juan PabloForero of the Colombian National Team, and just behind Forero was TonyCruz (Discovery), the overall winner of last year’s Tour de Nez.
During the first 30 minutes of the race, the field was at the mercyof the Colombian National Team, which maintained a blistering pace, baggingnearly all of the primes offered. While the Colombians were the most aggressiveteam in the field, the BMC Pro Cycling Team was the most dominant in depthof talent and size. However, despite BMC’s renowned ability for teamwork,it simply couldn’t generate the horsepower needed to take control overthe field.
Just as the peloton began to settle into a comfortable rhythm, a groupof 15 riders separated themselves from the main group with 30 minutes lefton the clock.
Almost immediately, Michael Sayers (BMC) made another surge to separatehimself from the lead group. Sayers’ effort was matched by Candelario,Forero, Cruz, Sebastian Haedo (Rock Racing), and Cameron Hoffman (OgdenOne).
The combination worked as the six quickly gapped the field. While Sayersand Haedo did most of the work to keep the pace high, the group workedtogether very well and increased its lead on the main field.
Roman Kilun (Health Net-Maxxis) made a noble attempt to bridge the gapbetween the first chase group and the lead group. However, his attemptonly resulted in spending the last half of the race in no man’s land.
With eight laps to go, Sayers made another attack and rode solo fora lap. He was joined shortly by Haedo, and they attempted to take theirtwo-man breakaway all the way to the finish.
The Sayers-Haedo breakaway was caught by the group of Candelario, Forero,Cruz, and Hoffman with just two laps to go. After the race, Candelariosaid that Sayers and Haedo’s breakaway was good for him because they worethemselves out just before the final sprint.
The finish line was at the end of a long, flat straight-away.Just before the final stretch was a sharp corner that played a key rolein Candelario’s victory.
Candelario positioned himself just before the final curve. Hecame out of the curve at the head of the lead group with Forero just behindhim. With the support of friends and family cheering on the sidelines,Candelario was able to hang onto the lead just long enough to finish infirst place—half of a wheel’s length ahead of Forero.
The bunch sprint of the main field was won by Dan Schmatz (BMC), whofinished in seventh place, followed closely by Carlos Alzate (ColombianNational Team) in eighth place.
Despite the absence of a road race and time trial at this year’s Tourde Nez, several big-name riders and more than twice as many spectatorsthan previous years were in attendance. No serious crashes were reported.
Though the winner of this year’s Truckee Criterium came as no surpriseto local fans, the race may have had an alternate fate if some of the mosthopeful winners had been able to start. Curtis Gunn (Successful Living),last year’s Truckee Criterium winner, and Aaron Olson (T-Mobile) did notstart because of injuries acquired earlier this month at the Commerce BankTriple Crown in Pennsylvania.
The final Tour de Nez Pro Criterium takes place at 6 p.m. this eveningin Reno, Nevada, 30 miles from Truckee, California. With one last chancefor a stage win at the Tour de Nez, expect to see challenges from ScottMoninger (BMC), Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing), Andy Jacques-Maynes (CaliforniaGiant-Specialized), and other great riders.
1. Alex Candelario, (Jelly Belly)
2. Juan Pablo Forero, (Colombian National Team)
3. Tony Cruz, (Discovery)
4. Michael Sayers, (BMC Pro Cycling Team)
5. Sebastian Haedo, (Rock Racing)
6. Cameron Hoffman, (Ogden One Cycling Team)
7. Dan Schmatz, (BMC Pro Cycling Team)
8. Carlos Alzate, (Colombian National Team)
9. Kayle Leogrande, (Rock Racing)
10. Alessandro Bazzana, (Successful Living)