April 10, 2006 – Karl Menzies of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis chased down one late break by Jelly Belly’s Caleb Manion on the final lap of the Sea Otter Classic, but it was the second attack with one kilometer to go by Manion’s teammate Matty Rice that he left just a bit too late to catch.
After Menzies — with Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and a rider from the Spanish Orbea team in tow — chased down Manion coming through the corkscrew following the final trip up Laguna Seca’s famed wall, they were joined by a small group that included Rice. After the sharp left turn following the corkscrew, Rice countered up the last little rise on the backside of the course.
“When Matty went, I looked at the others and none of them reacted,” Menzies said. “It was a good move. I just left it a little too long to catch him.”
Instead, Menzies had to settle for second, with Manion coming across for third place.
The nature of the course, with its 31 trips around the 2.3-mile track, caused a constant re-shuffling of the race through much of the first two-thirds of the 71-mile grind. It seemed that nearly every lap, a group would get away before the trip up the wall. But with the punishing climb and the tricky winds on the backside of the course, the group would be caught, and yet another group would be off on the following lap. It wasn’t until about 10 laps to go that a group finally established. By then, the peloton had been reduced by the multiple trips up the punishing wall.
With just a handful of laps remaining, a group of 18, which included six riders from Health Net Presented by Maxxis, remained at the front. Attacks further split that group. A that remained off the front were seven riders, including Menzies and Doug Ollerenshaw, Leipheimer, Rice and Manion, as well as the Orbea rider, setting the stage for Rice and Manion to lay down their final cards.
It was perhaps the first time in history that three riders from Tasmania swept the podium of a North American race. All three riders lived within a few kilometers of one another back in Launceston, and raced together frequently in the past.
Sea Otter Circuit Race Results
1 Matty Rice (Tas) Jelly Belly
2 Karl Menzies (Tas) Health Net Presented by Maxxis
3 Caleb Manion (Tas) Jelly Belly