The Tour de Murrieta’s final day ended with a short and fast circuit race around the base of the foothills of Murrieta with picturesque backdrops. The Pro 1/2 field raced 56 miles over a 3.5 mile course.
The day started out with picture perfect weather. The field was full with talent as some seasoned pros came in for some extra road miles before they hit the San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Claasic that are just around the corner.
The race was going to be tough as Jelly Belly pb Kenda was going to have to control the race from the previous day’s Criterium and were holding the leaders jersey with Cristiaan Kriek leading the overall.
Photos © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com
The race started out fast as the teams set a very blistering pace right from the gun. The wind was a factor as the race hit the first corner and the riders were lined up in a echelon with riders crossing over the center line trying to get a draft. The officials were going crazy in the follow vehicle trying to get the riders back over the center line. After a few laps in and the riders not complying with the officials, the race was halted at the start line and then restarted after a good scolding from the race officials.
The race got back underway and it was business as usual. There were several attacks with small groups of riders trying to break free, but with the wind being a factor they weren’t gaining much time on the pack.
Finally, after mid race there were a couple of large groups gaining some time. But with some horse power still in the pack those breakaway attempts would also come back to the field.
Then with about two laps to go Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly pb Kenda) went to the front with Enrique Aldapa (Calimax) and opened up a solid gap with two other riders chasing in between. The pace remained high but the two riders in between couldn’t quite close the gap to the leaders and finally got absorbed back in the field, since the two riders were not waiting for anyone to come across.
As the riders, geared up for the final laps and the chance to get points for the Nature Valley Grand Prix Qualifier, there were crashes that took several riders out of the race for good, including SoCalCycling.com rider Anthony Canevari who was looking good even after doing well at the Optum / Tucson Medical Center Old Pueblo Grand Prix the night before.
In the end, the breakaway with Mazich and Aldapa came to the line in a two up sprint with Aldapa (Calimax) taking the win with a nice victory salute over Mazich (Jelly Belly pb Kenda).
Christiaan Kriek defended his lead with the help of his Jelly Belly pb Kenda teammates, while Sergei Tvetcov (Full Circle pb Pure Gear) finished in 2nd GC with Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly pb Kenda) in 3rd Overall.
Please visit EchelonDesignPhoto.com for a full Photo Gallery from the Circuit Race and Criterium.
Report by Frank Sarate, SoCalCycling.com