Pacific Sunset Velo has a tradition of putting on an Easter Sunday Criterium with several years running. This year, a really strong field of riders showed up with the die-hard riders looking to see how their fitness was going just ahead of the State Road Race in San Luis Rey this coming weekend and with Redlands Classic on the horizon.
With a small but strong field lining up, it was going to be fast right from the gun and it did not disappoint.
There were times during the race where I was seeing 32 – 33 mph for several laps. I knew the elastic was going to break at some point from the main field with the speed being consistently high for several laps.
Sure enough, the elastic broke and the break was getting established with a few small groups coming together that would form a group of around 11 riders. The break included Tyler Locke (Support Clean sport / Sea Sucker), Ama Nsek (M2W Academy Team), Orlando Garibay (Los Angles Bicycle Club), Jakob Fransen (SoCalCycling.com Team), Chase Goldstein (SoCalCycling.com Team), Ethan Batt (SoCalCycling.com Team), Phill Tinstman (Monster Media Elite Team), Ulyess Castillo (Jelly Belly), Rene Corella (Jelly Belly), PierreBernard Thiffault (Hedrick Racing) and Rex Roberts (Pacific Premier Bank).
With all the main teams having their top guys up the road, the break was going to stick as the main teams controlled the field from any attempts to bridge. In addition, the teams controlled the front of the main pack, so it was just a matter of time before we saw the break rejoining the field. With about 40 minutes into the race, the break rolled along side of the relinquished field.
With all the riders in the break accounted for as they cruised right to the front of the pack, the pace started getting erratic again as riders from the break tried to escape to no avail. For me personally, I made it further than I thought I would after doing minimal riding/training. I’m usually taking the pictures for our team and of the race so, I figured I should duck out and grab some pics just in case we could actually win with the SoCalCycling.com Team having three riders in the break.
I think for our Team, a revelation occurred when Sergio Hernandez showed up to race after having a bad case of pneumonia early on in the season after not racing since 2015 and jumped in as if he didn’t skip a beat on the race scene.
With around 20 minutes remaining in the race, Jelly Belly was very active along with the SoCalCycling.com Team launching riders one after another as we had the numbers. However, the strong guys in the break weren’t having it and with all the attacks taking place and on the last lap it was looking like it was going to come down to a field sprint and one last dig with Chase Goldstein (SoCalCycling.com Team) launching an attack just ahead of the filed to force the other teams to take chase (no pun intended).
With the pack doing a super fast lap and hitting the last corner altogether, staying hidden for most of the day’s venture was a set of lightning-fast legs that were ready for the task of making field sprint look easy.
A young Ama Nsek (M2W Academy Team) took the win ahead of Tyler Locke (Support Clean Sport/ Sea Sucker), Orlando Garibay (Los Angeles Bicycle Club) Jakob Frandsen (SoCalCycling.com Team) and Ethan Batt (SoCalCycling.com Team) rounding out the prize purse for the day.
By Frank Sarate, SoCalCycling.com Team