Traverse City played host to one of the best editions of the Cherry-Roubaix yet, with non-stop battles all weekend long in every category.
The new Omnium competition added an extra dimension, and in a race that already was playing host to the Criterium State Championships for the Juniors, Women and Masters, there was an awful lot going on each day as the riders took the line. Few points on offer and to only the top five meant the time trial was the best chance to establish a lead, and in each division, riders emptied the tanks to try to scoop up full points.
BMC’s Alexey Vermeulen took the win Friday night in the Men’s Pro field, with Einstein Racing’s Tom Burke and Chris Fisher taking the next two steps of the podium. For Einstein, the positive start to the weekend took the pressure off just a touch, though they would certainly keep thing interesting the rest of the race. Zoe Reeves put in a second place finish in the TT, behind a smoking Amy Stauffer, who had only just begun her stellar campaign in Traverse City. Hagerty’s Lauri Brockmiller and current Top Banana Competition leader Lauri Brockmiller took third. There were impressive results abound, though the Einstein Racing 1-2 in CAT 5 was worth noting. Two riders make their first road-event starts went 1-2, with Sean Kickbush finishing just ahead of Mickey Humpula. It was a trend that was going to stay hip the next two days, as well. Mike Bellovich, in the absence of his East Hills Velo teammate Aaron Beebe, took a huge win in the CAT 4s, proving himself more than capable of winning races as well as helping Beebe.
The Criterium’s rough roads weren’t nearly as bad as predicted, though some seams and bumps in the asphalt did end a few racer’s days prematurely. A crash in the Women’s Pro race ended the hopes of Zoe Reeves’, with Amanda Schaap and Alicia Trevino also knocked out of contention. The trio walked their bikes to line behind a storming Amy Stauffer and Sarah Demerly, with Hagerty’s duo of Lauri Brockmiller and Bridgit Widrig sliding home third and fourth on the day.
The Men’s race was a clinic from BISSELL, with ten or so riders also starting against a stacked field. From the gun, they were the aggressors of the day, including breaks that lasted five to ten minutes and threatened to spoil the sprint trains behind. Einstein Racing did their best to control affairs, relying on the early work of John Leach and Jason Young, in particular, but the moves kept coming. The final break was reeling in late, setting up a bunch sprint with nearly the full compliment of racers still in contention.
The Einstein duo of Humpula and Kickbush were at the head of affairs in the CAT 5 Crit, with the pair swapping the lead of the race for almost the full 25 minutes. Kickbush, resplendent in the maillot rouge, was swamped in the end, but Humpula was able to hold on for an impressive second place finish behind Dave Wilson.
The Junior races were fast and furious, with Hagerty-TOLaw U-25’s Ryan Durand pulling out the ol’ Shake ‘n’ Bake a few laps in. Weaving wildly and barely in control across the width of the road, the move accomplished a lifetime of assured awesomeness, and a few moments of curious on-looking.
The road race opened up to rolling fog in Leelanau County, a haunting backdrop for the final day of racing. The Pro Women set off into the mist not far behind the Pro men, who were in for over 80 miles and 7,000 feet of climbing. Soon, a breakway formed and gathered a five minute lead, ushered along by Ryan Cross and Chris Gottwald.
The chase organized too late, and managed to bring the breakaway’s gap down considerably in the final miles only to come up short. The sun was hot, the fog had long since burnt off, and the heat ripples were dancing towards the heavens as Chris Gottwald bounced up Sugar Loaf Road for the win. He knew he had it wrapped up with 200 meters to go, and soft pedaled across the line with the diesel engine of Ryan Cross coming in shortly thereafter. The remnants of the day’s break stayed away, with the field flying on their heels to nab the last of the placings in the top ten.
The CAT 4 race marked the end of the Beebe Era, with the East Hills Velo captain almost single-handedly pulling the race apart. Riding with the maillot rouge Mike Bellovich tucked on his wheel, he first yanked the already diminished peloton apart on the first trip up Narlock. With too few teams represented up front, the move was reeled in. Only a few miles later, as the Sugar Loaf Climb loomed, Beebe went to the head of affairs again, with Bellovich again tucked in and protected. This time, the move was permanent. Just a handful of riders were able to keep pace, with fellow Four Phenom Ryan Bolin scrambling to rejoin the leaders. That move stuck, with a chase group forming behind with two Strykers, two Leadouts and two Hagerty riders represented. The damage was done, and the rest of the field was littered across Leelanau County. Beebe went on to win ahead of an elite selection that included Bolin, Bellovich and the other top-tier climbers of the day.
Mickey Humpula’s legendary weekend ended in mythical fashion. Second Friday night and second on Saturday, he went off the front just a few miles into the race, riding 40 seconds ahead of the field for two laps. With just one climb and a little over a mile to go, five riders bridged up to his wheel. After nearly two hours solo, they forced him to the front. Showing heretofore undiscovered tactical nous, Mickey eased the pace back before unleashing on Sugar Loaf, holding off the four riders to take his first win and securing the CAT 5 omnium win in the process.
Results are slow coming, but will be updated as soon as they are finalized and released. Omnium standings were still being re-calculated when this got Autosaved.
A massive thanks, as always, to the swarms of volunteers on the weekend, including Barb “Le Petite Princess”, Dave Williams, Dan Hofstra, Stacy Smith, Sue Vigland, Todd Vigland, and the dozens of others who spent their weekend watching people ride bikes in spandex. A very special nod to Johanna Schmidt for single-handedly whoa-manning the most dangerous intersection of the road course, all with ‘bum’ tailbone. Ha. Ha. Ha.