February 13, 2006 (Oakland, CA) — Karl Menzies of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis won the final city limit line sprint — and more importantly, the Cherry Pie Criterium — in Napa, CA on Sunday. And while he may not have hit the 40 mph speed limit on the slightly uphill finish, it was a satisfying win for the Aussie from Tasmania, who is living in Folsom, CA during the 2006 season.
“Mike (Sayers) put the pressure on us before the race, so we had to win,” Menzies said afterward. “It was good to get a race in, instead of just training.”
Coming into the finishing straight, Menzies was actually trying to lead out teammate Kirk O’Bee for the win. “With about 2.5 laps to go, Garrett (Peltonen) went out on a break, but when it looked like he wasn’t going to stay away, we got a little train together. It was Sayers, me and then Kirk.”
But the Health Net Maxxis mini train had to contend with a full contingent of riders from KodakGallery/Sierra Nevada. “I think they had 10 guys there, and they were setting up a lead-out for their sprinter. But with about 500 or 600 meters to go, we got to a wide, flat stretch and Mike got outside and drilled it, and took us around their train.”
However, things didn’t go quite according to plan. “I hit out coming out of the last corner with maybe 400 meters to go to take O’Bee to the line, but I guess he got squeezed. I looked back between my legs with maybe 150 to go and didn’t see any Health Net green behind me, so I had to go again. But it ended up being a pretty clean win in the end.”
It also turned out to be a pretty sweet win for the team, as Menzies took home a nice cherry pie along with the prize money. “I ate most of it, too,” Menzies said. “Garrett snuck a piece while I was out after we got home from the race, but that’s alright. It was a good start to the season.”