Each year the Dana Point Grand Prix gets bigger and is more fun to attend. With large crowds, a great downtown venue and parts of the course over looking the ocean and Dana Point Harbor. I don’t think you can ask for a better course and venue, not to mention the great SoCal weather.
This year I came to the race with very little fitness and knew that I would get my rear end handed to me. But, I still needed to help the SoCalCycling.com / Echelon Design Team in anyway I could and get some training in, as well.
This year’s race started with around 120 riders including US Pro teams from Jelly Belly, United Healthcare and Optum-Health plus all of the top local teams.
With this race happening in our backyard, most local riders look forward to the Dana Point Grand Prix to throw down with the big boys and make a name for themselves.
The race started out fast and it took a few laps for the teams to start the attacks. It seemed like for most of the race you would see some small breaks getting a 15 or 20 second gap, but nothing really happened until after 50 minutes to an hour into the race. A large group started to form up the road with small groups bridging to it forming a sizable group. The group did not really gain much ground and only got about 10 seconds in front of he field. However, the field didn’t like the combination of riders up the road and kept the pressure on to bring back the break, while the break kept the pressure on to not to get caught. This lasted for several laps, then there were attacks from the break.
Stephano Barberi (CashCall) made the biggest solo effort of the day gaining up to 30 seconds at one point, followed by two man chase group containing Shawn Vangassen (SoCalCycling.com / Echelon Design) and an Optum Health rider in between Barbieri and the peloton with a 15 second gap. This went on for several laps.
The field started to get organized with Jelly Belly and United Health setting the pace at the front to bring back all attempts for the remaining breaks. Once the breaks were caught another solo move was made from Joseph Schmalz (Elbows Racing) who opened up about 15 -20 second gap. However, the bigger pro teams proved to be too strong in the end, with United Healthcare trying to set up their man Hilton Clarke and Jelly Belly trying to set up their man Brad Huff for the field sprint. In the end, Brad Huff repeated his victory from last year followed by Justin Williams (CashCall) and Ben Swedberg (California Giant).
By Frank Sarate, SoCalCycling.com