The West Branch Classic is in the books, an unbelievable race that almost didn’t happen. Two weeks out, it looked as though the Classic would fold with low pre-registration and a lack of sponsors. Luckily, an awful lot of riders and sponsors stepped up to make the event happen, to wonderful results.

The West Branch Road Race became the first road event to figure into the Top Banana Competition, one of three paved races to make the 2012 series. The hilly course will be a far cry from Mount Pleasant’s parcours next week. Mt. P is what kolo t.c. would call an “Aunt Jemima” race, as it is so pancake flat only the delicious, sweet accompaniment of some maple syrup could make it any better. But I digress….

Saturday’s horrible weather knocked out more than a few riders, though the Pro class survived almost four hours of wind and rain without bowing out. The field was stacked, though with the noted absence of Alex Vanias, who was off racing somewhere else. The slack was picked up and pocketed by Alexey Vermeullen, Vanias’ Bissell ABG Nuvo teammate.

For scoring purposes, we’re taking the Top 20 finishing order as is, without regard to 1 or 2 CAT finish. West Branch was slated to be a 1.0 race, but the old rule is in play: if there aren’t enough finishers for a Top 20, the points are reduced to 15. So, we’ve got first place with 15 points, -1 for each person on down the line.

Swen Baumann took the victory out of a two man breakaway with Alexy Vermeullen, three minutes ahead of the charging field. Mike Anderson, yes, that Mike Anderson took second in the field’s assault on the final climb, finishing just behind Matthew DeGiacomo. Here’s how they finished, with points in the first column on the left:

15 1 Sven Baumann (1 – Cat1) Lake Orion, MI 3:47:21.37 378155 16 Wolverine Sports Club
14 2 282.31 Alexey Vermeulen (1 – Cat2) Pinckney, MI 3:47:28.67 258681 6 Bissell-ABG-NUVO/Indianapolis C
13 3 297.36 Matthew DeGiacomo 3:50:36.45 381288 8 Garneau-Quebecor-Norton Rose
12 4 312.42 Michael Anderson (3 – Cat2) Alpena, MI 3:50:42.17 248234 3
11 5 319.95 Jordan Diekema (5 – Cat2) Hudsonville 3:50:51.42 339004 21 Ascension Cycling
10 6 342.54 Ben Whitehead (3 – Cat1) Belmont, MI 3:50:57.18 183938 42 Bissell ABG
9 7 357.60 Christopher Gottwald (5 – Cat1) Kalamazoo, MI 3:51:01.57 42621 12 Team Priority Health
8 8 365.12 Adam York (7 – Cat1) Plymouth, MI 3:51:26.80 210584 9 Cleveland Clinic Sports Health
7 9 380.18 Mike Tacchella (7 – Cat2) Jenison, MI 3:51:29.72 249598 15 Ada Bike Club
6 10 395.24 Daniel Lam (9 – Cat1) Kalamazoo, MI 3:51:33.46 239504 14 Bissell-ABG-NUVO/Indianapolis C
 5 11 410.30 Brent Aquino 3:51:34.67 381295 19 ZTeam
4 12 425.36 Robert Foshag (11 – Cat1) Monroe, MI 3:51:41.08 88653 20 Lathrup Industries/Giant Bicycl
3 13 440.41 Derek Graham (13 – Cat1) Cedar, MI 3:51:42.93 102695 5 Bissell-ABG-NUVO/Indianapolis C
2 14 463.00 Daniel Yankus (9 – Cat2) Commerce Twp, MI 3:52:12.99 102694 1 Team Priority Health
1 15 478.06 Scott Hoffner (11 – Cat2) Milford, MI 3:53:57.58 294925 7

That pesky Mike Anderson is just always around, isn’t he? He’s done more than enough to keep his strangle hold on the Top Banana Competition. His teammate John Cowan took the win at Hanson Hills Sunday, giving NCCS another rather magical weekend of fun and glory. Surely both riders will get a huge bonuses at season’s end.

With Mount Pleasant on the horizon, here’s the Top 17 heading into the last road race until August. After some deliberation, the Boyne Marathon (July 14) MTB race will be added to the series in order to ensure there is an event in July that will count toward Banana points. The Boyne Marathon also adds an endurance mountain bike race to the calendar, so be sure to get the day off and bring an awful lot of snacks. Here’s the rankings heading into this Sunday’s Mount Pleasant Road Race.

Mike Anderson at 57 points
John Cowan at 40 points
Jorden Wakeley at 34 points
Chad Wells at 27 points
Dan Korienek at 25 points
Brian Matter at 19 points
Nate Williams at 18 points
Ty Schmidt at 17 points
Shawn Adams at 17 points
Ron Sanborn at 16 points
Steve Broglio at 16 points
Sven Baumann at 15 points
Mark Spore at 15 points
TJ Jenema at 15 points
Alexey Vermeullen at 14 points
Matthew DeGiacomo at 13 points
Jordan Diekema at 11

Check back tomorrow for the Women’s Top Banana Competition’s new rankings, and make sure you head to Mt. P to cheer on the valiant racers. Cheers!