The Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling is one of the biggest criteriums in the United States, and is an event I look forward to every year, with a fast and exciting course, a great venue in downtown Dana Point, and an electric crowd to fuel the adrenaline while racing. This 10th edition of the race was a bit different from years past, as the race organizers split the event into two separate days of racing, adding in a Junior Men’s 15-18 Category 1-3 race. The addition of a new field brought out two of the stronger SoCal Junior teams; Team Velosport-Ridebiker Alliance and my team, the Swamis Junior Development Team, as well as quite a few very strong individuals making for a fairly stacked field.
My teammates and I of Swamis, under the direction of Sport Director Chris Daggs, composed a plan to cover attacks from the five man Velosport squad, and to try and keep the field together for a sprint. The race started off fast, with attacks from Velosport going multiple times a lap being covered or chased back by myself or teammates Ryan Jastrab and Ian Schwartz. On lap three, a two man break, with strongman Kevin Vermaerke of Velosport, went up the road with about a 15 second advantage. Another teammate of mine, Mark Yaroshevsky, made a killer effort to bridge to the two escapees, forming a three man break just under the halfway mark in the race. These three hung on for quite awhile, but a lack of unity between the three eventually led to the catch by the field, and with 15 minutes and only 8 laps to go it looked like a field sprint was inevitable.
Photos by Dean Kirby and Matt Spector
Myself and Ryan patrolled the front of the field for a couple laps, covering any more attacks and making sure things stayed together for a sprint. With two to go, Mark Yaroshevsky went to the front and strung things out for me, discouraging any more attempted breakaways. In a show of pure aggression and strength Mark was able to hold this massive effort for these final two laps, dropping me off perfectly at the final corner and I gave it all I had those last 200 meters to not let the team down, coming through for the win! A great end to a killer team effort, and a perfectly executed plan was only made sweeter with a very impressive win by 14-year-old Megan Jastrab in the Women’s 3,4 field. All in all it was a great weekend for the Swamis Junior Development Team, with 2 more wins and great experience gained by our racers, providing us with great training and a confidence boost going into the many state and national championships in the coming months.
More info about the Swamis Junior Development Team:
The mission of the Swamis Development team is to build a competitive regional squad with an emphasis on providing the support and guidance to enable our talented young riders to reach their full potential both on and off the bike.
In addition to fantastic support from our sponsors, the team is structured to maximize the development of our riders: Swamis President Fred Muir serves as managing director of the team and Chris Daggs (USAC certified coach and Cat 1 racer) will serve as race director and will provide race-day coaching and support.
Members of the Swamis Development team are carefully selected from the greater SoCal region for both the quality of their character and their talent on the bike. The team will compete in the SoCal region and select national and international races chosen to maximize the riders development and to showcase the riders talents to the national team coaches and professional team directors.
Over the past several years the Swamis development program has had much success and we look forward to building one of the premier programs in the nation and develop our young cyclist into elite caliber athletes who can compete at the national and international level.
Follow the team throughout the year via Facebook pages:
Report by Kyle Kirby, Swamis Junior Development Team Captain