After two frustrating days at the Tour de Murrieta in California, Christiaan Kriek (Team Simple Green/Bike Religion) won the last stage and finished third overall in this tour over three days.
Kriek described winning the final stage as one of his most satisfying victories ever. Especially after the frustration and disappointment he experienced in the first two stages.
The event was an Omnium; it worked on points for the individual stages rather than a general time classification for the three days. Stage 1 was a 6km hill climb, followed by a criterium and it finished off with a road race.
The last 3km of the 6km hill climb was a gravel road. “With my mountain biking background and my knowledge of the area, winning the time trial was a priority.” According to Kriek this tour was used as preparation for next weekend’s San Dimas and the Tour of Redlands in two weeks time.
“I felt pretty good early on. This is a discipline I’m still learning more about seeing that I didn’t do many time trials in South Africa. Right after I got to the gravel section I got a puncture. I was so irritated and frustrated because I was on my way to a good time. I rode the last 2.5km with a flat back wheel.” Kriek still managed a fourth place. He finished 8 seconds behind the winner Devan Dunn (a former South African).
The goal in Stage 2 was to beat the riders that got a better time in the time trial in the sprint. “Our plan to keep everything together didn’t work out. Eight riders got away in a break. And I had to settle with 13th place. Once again I was left frustrated and disappointed. I knew I was in a reasonable good position to win the tour, but it didn’t work out on the day for us.”
Stefano Barberi won the stage and David Santos was the new overall leader – both riders are from Team CashCall Cycling.
The final stage was a road race on a 5km circuit, which was pretty flat. CashCall took the responsibility of controlling the race. “We had a team talk before the stage about what went wrong the previous day and how we can be more cohesive and effective as a team. Jos le Roux, Connor McCutcheon and Austin Carroll looked after me the whole day and made my life really easy. With about 5km to go Jos and Connor came to fetch me right from the back to the front of the bunch to set me up for the sprint.”
The last kilometre was a long stretch with a strong wind from right and with 150m to go there was a sharp turn to the right. “With 400m we started the sprint. I knew beforehand that having the inside line would be my best option. I went hard for the inside line in the turn. Rahsaan Bahati (a former USA criterium champ) went into the turn at the same time. We did bump a bit into each other, but I had the inside line and he knew it. I kicked hard out of the turn and when I got a decent gap I could sit up and really enjoy the victory. It was probably one of the most satisfying thus far!”
The next two weeks are a big step up in terms of racing. The action now moves from regional events to the National and International stage with San Dimas and then Redlands.
By Christiaan Kriek