Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) paid tribute to fallen former teammate Jorge Alvarado Sunday at the Dana Point Grand Prix, taking the bunch sprint in the $15,000 National Racing Calendar criterium.
Cantwell sat fourth wheel behind the UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis sprint train halfway through the final lap before Jamis-Sutter Home took the front ahead of the final corner. The Aussie jumped over the top of Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) out of the corner to take the win in his first attempt at Dana Point.
Kendall Ryan (NOW-MS Society) took the bunch sprint in the women’s non-NRC Pro/1/2 race earlier in the day over Maria Lechuga and Coryn Rivera (Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12).
Aggressive, predictable riding
The men’s race followed the usual criterium script. Small breakaways made inroads ahead of the peloton throughout the 90-minute affair, but none were able to stick to the finish. Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) was particularly active in the breaks, initiating at least three moves that appeared to have a chance, but the peloton was not interested in allowing more than a 15-second leash.
The most promising move of eight riders went away with 32 minutes remaining and included fast finishers Cantwell and Ken Hansen (Team Type 1). The group never meshed, however, and the peloton absorbed them three minutes later.
Soren Petersen (Hagens Berman) nearly stole the show with a late solo move from a break of five riders; he stayed away, collecting primes for five laps, but the bunch was groupo compacto with four laps to go.
Riders hit the deck, tempers hit the roof
Soon after Petersen was caught, a crash in the middle of the field split the peloton and with no free laps within five of the finish, a group of approximately 40 came to the line for the finale. Officials attempted to slow the remnants of the peloton through the crash scene with three-to-go, but White was on the front of the group and continued to drill the pace.
“I was at the front and I figured there was three to go, I’m going to keep the pace up, but safe and I just kept riding,” said White.
Tempers flared in the bunch following the crash. Rahsaan Bahati (Bahati Foundation), who was involved in the pile-up, was seen throwing his sunglasses at a rider in the group while standing in the road at the start of the penultimate lap. Bahati¹s glasses caught Andrew Pinfold’s (UnitedHealthcare) front wheel, ripping off his computer receiver.
Pinfold was the designated lead out man into the final corner for teammate Jake Keough, but when he came to the front on the final rise before the finishing straight, the computer receiver lodged in his front wheel, slowing Pinfold enough for the Jamis tandem, Cantwell in tow, to surge past on the left side of the road.
Anibal Borrajo led his brother to the final corner, but Cantwell was too fast for the Argentines, coming around them with 200 meters to go for his first NRC win of 2010.
“I just told my guys and UnitedHealthcare to keep going,” said Cantwell. “Coming into the final corner, Jamis-Sutter Home took over and I jumped onto their wheel and had the legs today.”
“Cantwell was a little faster than both of us to the finish,” said Alejandro Borrajo. “We are happy now because we get a couple points for the NRC. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. He was a little faster and that’s it. We are happy.”
Frustration for UnitedHealthcare
UHC was in control in the closing laps of yet another criterium on Sunday — a position they have enjoyed for much of 2010 — but White was left afterward to talk about yet another disappointing finish.
“It was really bad luck today and really frustrating to have everything go fairly well until then and then to lose it like that when things are going well,” said White. “It’s wearing on us, it’s frustrating for us. I feel like we’re executing well until those last 200 meters and it’s definitely something we need to straighten up and figure out because winning races is why we’re here and we’re not doing that right now.”
Following the race, UHC director Gord Fraser called Bahati’s actions disgraceful. “It’s unfortunate that a lot of people got caught up in drama caused by one individual rider,” he said. “I think (USA Cycling) should investigate what the rules are on this type of behavior and levy down the maximum penalty.”
Alejandro Borrajo also voiced his opinion on the Bahati/UHC encounter: “Bahati today was so crazy. It was wrong, he was so wrong, because he was fighting the United guy in the train. I don’t know why he was fighting for the train’s wheel. He was bad. He was wrong and he made the crash.”
Attempts by VeloNews to reach Bahati following the race were unsuccessful.