If you watched any of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California, you likely saw an awesome commercial from Toyota which showcased their support of the cycling community, including TMB/Equator. The footage primarily came from the Mike’s Bikes Cat’s Hill Classic criterium in Los Gatos, just south of Steven’s Creek Toyota (HQ for Toyota’s California marketing). So it was easy for them to send a few nice folks out to document the event.
Prior to the P/1/2 race late in the afternoon, several of the other TMB/Equator teams had great success in their respective events. Dana Williams of the TMB Masters Team won the 35+ 1/2/3 race, John Funke placed 4th in the 45+ 1/2/3, and Amy Cameron won the Women’s 3/4's race. These finishes set the bar high for the Elite team to pull through in the final event of the day.
The plan was to keep a wheel on the strong riders and teams, such as former TMB rider Daniel Holloway, Tobin Ortenblad of CalGiant, and a well-supported team of Herbalife24-MarcPro/Strava. We felt that if one of our sprinters had at least one other teammate in a small break, we’d win… And if we had enough numbers in the final, we could line up a leadout to set up the sprinters for the final corner.
Attacks went from the gun, each with counter attacks one after another. This kept the pace high for the entirety of the race. About thirty minutes into the seventy-five minute race, a good break with two TMB riders, including Chris Riekert and Craig Fellers, two Herbalife24 riders, Ortenblad, and a few others got a reasonable advantage on the field. Holloway saw an opportunity to bridge across after cresting the steep 20%+ gradient climb and made his move. I followed him, and we made contact with the lead group within about three quarters of a lap. Unfortunately, about two laps later, we were brought back and more attacks started flying.
In the final laps, a small group of riders, driven by Ortenblad, got small gap, but was brought back with one lap remaining. Herbalife24 took the front with four riders, trying to set up their sprinters Myers and Carling. Over the top of the course, Riekert and I made contact, but were slotted in behind Holloway, LaBerge and Ortenblad. Going into the second to last corner, the start of the descent, Riekert and I were separated as he followed Holloway and I moved up on the inside heading into the final corner. Out of the corner, Tobin started his sprint and opened up a gap with LaBerge on his wheel. Holloway was third with Riekert on his wheel for fourth. I was just able to come around two of the Herbalife24 riders to take fifth.
We were all pretty disappointed that we weren’t able to win, but we were all more than happy with the way everyone on the team contributed throughout the race. With two national champions and another soon-to-be world-class rider occupying the top steps, 4th and 5th were still pretty satisfying.