For the second year in a row, Pacific Premier Bank Cycling Team (Team PPBI) steps onto the podium at the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix of Cycling. With John Garbo taking the win in last year’s Cat 3 race the team was motivated for a repeat. The fast four-corner course has tight turns and a cross-headwind finishing straight that quickly strung out the field as soon as the attacks began.
As the race became animated Rex Roberts positioned himself near the front – ready to pull back any dangerous moves and block for the team’s breakaway man Dakota Gracey. Midway through the 55 minute race, Sidney Thomas put in a solo attack, tempting a few others and allowing Dakota Gracey to move up and counter when Thomas was brought back in. Gracey found himself at the front of a group of five riders unwilling to share in the workload and were quickly reeled in by the field. Soon after, Roberts and one other went off the front for a few strong laps, opening up a reasonable ten-second gap. Riders attempting to bridge dragged the entire field along and brought everything back together with seven laps to go – giving Roberts just enough time to recover and position himself for the sprint.
On the bell-lap, Roberts was sitting third wheel into the first turn. The positioning appeared to be too far forward as the two in front began to waiver. With Gracey and Thomas swarmed in the pack and Roberts’unwillingness to lead out another team, he attacked into turn three and created a small gap on the climb and into the last narrow turn. Only one opponent was able to get around Roberts in the final sprint despite being on the front for half of the last lap – earning the team a place on the podium and enough points to submit for a Category 2 upgrade.
Report by Rex Roberts, Team PPBI
Top photo Rick Thomas, Team PPBI