Burning up the road during the Mid Season Criterium, or being burnt by the road, during the Mid Season Criterium? There was enough of each to go around out in Ontario for this fourteenth annual race presented by Pacific Sunset Velo, and either way, both seemed to be taken seriously. Lets start with, and get the crashes out of the way. Apparently there were a few during the morning races (hearsay); I only saw one (then heard rumor of a second) during the afternoon races. Long-time Southern California racing fixture, Evan Teske who won the Masters 50+ race, was among the riders who took a tumble in the morning during the 45+ race. Unfortunately I was told that he was taken by ambulance to the hospital; hopefully things prove to be not too serious.
I only arrived in time for the afternoon races, beginning with the Masters 30+ 4/5, and only the last handful of laps from that one. Of the races that I watched from beginning to end, three of them included significant solo breakaways, two of which ended in victory. The 30+ race also had a solo attack within the last five laps, but it did not gain nearly enough gap to be successful; the result was a bunch sprint won by Scott Clark (Long Beach Cyclery), ahead of Pedro Slonsky (SC Velo), and Israel Tapia (WIN-Team Racing). The Masters 40+ 1/2/3/4 lined up next. A five rider break, became four, then finally three - two Spy-Giant Team riders and one from the MRI Endurance Elite Masters Team. You would not be faulted for predicting victory for one of the Spy riders, but that single MRI rider, Chris DeMarchi, proved too strong, taking the win in a one-up sprint over Gregg Medinilla. Brent Garrigus took third.
The Cat 3 race saw another small group get away, but attrition and a determined chase by the peloton ended the gambit. The bunch sprint was claimed by Jeremy Ayers (Rock Sports Racing), ahead of Michael Cleveland (CA Pools / Primal) and Josh Ruiz (SC Velo). Most aggressive award to Quint Berkemeier (Colorado Mesa University) who was especially active at the front, and in the break, throughout the race.
The Masters 35+ race is typically one of the more competitive fields; if it seemed to lack the normal fireworks show, blame it on Jamie Paolinetti (MRI Endurance Elite Masters) who soloed for lap after lap at the end of the race, to take a big win. Give some credit also to the rest of the MRI team, who did everything a team should do to control the field and neutralize all attacks. The tactical game frustrated more than a few riders from other teams. Behind Paolinetti came Aaron Wimberley (Team Helen's) and Michael Herdman (Rokform / Rock N' Road).
A combined Cat 4/5 race was the penultimate one on the day, and as the photo above shows, there was some misfortune for at least one rider. A close sprint at the end was won by Jose Reyes (SC Velo) ahead of teammate Leo Reyes and Henry Szczypiorski Jr. (Cast A Shadow).
The Pro/1/2/3 race lined up in its usual spot at the end of the day. The race was highly competitive, not to mention entertaining. Attacks were continually being launched off the front, chased down, and then countered. Finally, a powerful group of five, or was it six, riders managed to build a significant gap. It was ultimately for not though, as the pressure of the pace caused one and then another rider to be shed from the small group until only one remained. That one was Aurelien Passeron of Full Circle Cycling; the French rider who at one time raced with the UCI Pro team, Saunier Duval - Scott, and has a palmares with several significant European wins, showed his power by staying away almost to the end. When the peloton finally did reel Passeron back into the fold, a gutsy (not to mention impressive) counter attack by lone MRI rider, Hunter Grove, resulted in a popular solo victory as he managed to hold off the chasers over the course of the final laps. It was a stand on the curb and yell nervous encouragement those last couple laps, as I seemed to find myself in the midst of a crowd of MRI supporters and the gap, which once seemed secure, shrank precipitously on the final lap. An U23 racer taking the race to the veteran pros, and a worthy grande finale to an exciting day of racing. ps. if you click on the link below there are a couple photos of Mr. Grove, just not the best, his supporters kept crowding the road and getting in the way of the shots.
i have my doubt that helmet hair like this will ever catch on
well matched around turn one
Chris DeMarchi finishes off the Masters 40+ race
the throw wins it for Jeremy Ayers in the Cat 3 race
Rock Sport teammates round the first turn
Jamie Paolinetti tucked in, going solo
the snaking line of the pro/1/2/3 field
Aurelien Passeron eyes the attack of his teammate
Rigoberto Meza of Coates Cyclery
Passeron leads around turn one
A selection of another 96 photos is here.