Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia) sprinted to a second consecutive victory and the final leader’s jersey in the conclusion to the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove on Sunday.
The weather and the action were both hot in the final day of racing at Elk Grove. The temperatures hit the high 80s for a heat index of nearly 100 as the 60-lap pro men’s criterium got under way on the 1.2-mile circuit.
Race leader Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) said beforehand that everyone in the top 20 was a threat to his jersey, but added that he had a team strong enough to defend it.
“We’ve done it before,” he said.
The action took a little longer to develop than in Saturday’s road race and it wasn’t until near the midpoint that a breakaway stuck, with six riders representing five teams: Jeremy Vennell and Daniel Holloway (Bissell); Jake Rytlewski (Kenda), Heath Blackgrove (Team Hotel San Jose); Hayden Brooks (V Australia); and Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies).
With 33 laps to go, the group had about 30 seconds on the field. As the lead grew, UnitedHealthcare came to the front, with Tim Johnson taking big pulls. But the gap kept opening, and with 24 laps to go, the break was threatening to catch the peloton and could have put Vennell in position for the overall win. He began the day in fourth overall, six seconds behind Menzies.
The pack dropped the hammer, though, and the pace picked up significantly. V Australia joined UnitedHealthcare at the front, as did Chris Horner (Team RadioShack), and the speed of the pursuit whittled away at the bunch and the break’s advantage.
With eight laps laps to go it was all back together, or at least what was left of the severely reduced field. Bissell’s Andy Jacques-Maynes attacked, but the field was having none of it and brought him back in short order. In addition to Fly V and UHC, Jelly Belly put some riders on the front and kept the pace high.
The hard work took its toll on Menzies’ team, and in the final few laps he found himself isolated as V Australia, Kenda and other teams started forming lead-out trains.
The final sprint was a full-out charge, marred by a crash behind the leaders at about 100 meters to go. Cantwell was able to raise his arms in victory well before the line, with David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) hot on his wheel for second and Carlos Ospina (Colombian National Team) third.
Menzies crossed the line looking exhausted, and when the finish-line bonuses were tallied — 20 seconds for Cantwell and 12 for Veilleux — he had lost the jersey to Cantwell and slipped to third on the podium, behind Veilleux.
In the 50-minute women’s crit, Carrie Cash Wootten (Vera Bradley Foundation) won ahead of Saturday’s runner-up Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) with Samantha Schneider (Team Tibco-To The Top) rounding out the podium in third.