Team Tactics Reward a 1-2 Finish: 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

By: Dana Williams

Date: April 30, 2017

Teammates: Todd Markelz, John Barbicas, Scott Cox, Luiggi Zuniga, Marcel Appelman & Rob Amatelli

The Plan: The call came in from team captains for a straight up man-to-man marking with each of us placed on an opposing rider we felt were the biggest threats. For one rider in particular, we decided to put three guys on because of his aggressive and strong reputation.


Conditions: clear skies, sunny and high 50's rising to low 70's at the finish

"The fuse has been lit" I shouted in the remaining group of riders as we quickly approached the main climb, Strava-dubbed 'Wente Hill'. It was our fourth and final time up the climb. Teammate Todd 'Sparkelz' Markelz and Team Specialized rider Josh Dapice had just been caught after being off the front for approximately 1.5 laps. This definitely played in our favour as strong riders including Kevin Metcalf, Michael Sayers, Will Riffelmacher and Josh Dapice had to burn matches up to this point. Will wasn't going to sit back and watch. He jumped out of his saddle and attacked at the base of the climb.

But first let's rewind back to the start where the energy was somewhat subdued among the 26 rider field. We, Team Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffee had the largest representations with eight riders. Peets Coffee Cycling team was next with five riders. Team Specialized and Kai Velo had 3 riders each and then there was individual rider team representation. The first lap was pretty casual with a decent tempo set by teammate Marcello and a few others. You could sense the pace was going to be quicker the second time up Wente Hill, and that's how it played out. The field was whittled down slightly and the pace stayed solid up Carroll-Flynn climb. As we started the Flynn descent, Jeromy Cottel pushed off the front and kept on the gas. Gaps started to form and you could sense some alarm bells going off. We all knew his strength and smart race tactics. As we turned onto Patterson Pass Rd (to begin Patterson - Cross climb) and hit the head wind we were all back together. This is where Todd sensed his time to attack and stretched his legs. Josh Dapice jumped on him and followed. Nobody else tried to join them and they were off....for the next 1.5 laps.

By the base of the third time up the Wente Hill, Todd and Josh were in sight and approx 20-25sec up the road. Will attacked hard at the base and went off in pursuit to bridge up. It was a smart move and would make any chase effort that much harder. He put in a commendable effort but ultimately dangled in the middle for 3/4 of the lap.

We hit the final time up the 'Wente Hill' and Will attached again. The pace picked up a notch, and then another notch when Sayer's dug hard and went after him. Others followed. A select group formed at the top including four TMBEquator rider (Cox, Zuniga, Amatelli and myself) and I believe the others were Cottel, Sayers, Riffelmacher, Eropkin and Henderson. We kept on the gas up the climb and down to Patterson Pass Rd. The false flat and head wind on Patterson Pass Rd combined with cumulative leg fatigue was the perfect recipe for Rob to attack. He jumped and quickly got a gap. Cottel went after him and I was able to tuck behind him in his draft. Jeromy caught Rob just before we took the right turn onto Cross Rd. I countered attacked right away and pushed hard up the steep little pitch, down it's back side and up Cross Rd climb to the highest point of the course. I finally looked back and didn't see anybody. But I knew the strength of Jeromy so I had to stay all in, hoping Rob would get a free ride if I was caught, and counter attack again. Half way down the descent I looked back and recognized a TMBEquator kit in the distance. I thought to myself 'is this somebody from a different field, or was it Rob and I couldn't see Jeromy'. A few more double takes and I realized it was Rob solo. I eased off and by the time we hit Tesla Rd we are together. I still didn't know where Jeromy was so kept on the gas. As we approached the finish I finally was able to realize we would stay off the front and had enough time to chat with Rob how we'd finish.

Dana Williams & Rob Amatelli Finish 1-2 at the 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

Dana Williams & Rob Amatelli Finish 1-2 at the 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

Jeromy stayed away from the next group and held onto second. Sparkelz finished fourth and Cox rounded out the 'Brodium' in fifth. Needless to say we were happy as a team with the results. 

L-R: Scott Cox, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Rob Amatelli, Todd Markelz

L-R: Scott Cox, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Rob Amatelli, Todd Markelz

Thank you to our sponsors for their continued support: Equator Coffee & Teas, Toyota, Specialized, Capo Cycling Apparel, Violich Farms, Smith Optics, Gu Energy Labs, Mikes Bikes, Achieve Performance Training & Coaching, Financial Force and Bike Smart.