September 10, 2005 – Defending Champion, Glen Mitchell (Kodak Gallery – Sierra Nevada), of Santa Rosa, took his second consecutive win on the Infineon Raceway after outsprinting Mike Sayers (Healthnet – Maxxis), of Sacramento, in a tough 2.5-hour Infineon Technologies Cougar Mountain Classic Supercuts Road Circuit Race.
With late season National Racing Calendar points at stake, the competition was fierce with on-form riders Mitchell and Sayers looking to do well for different reasons. For Mitchell there was a victory at this venue last year to defend, while Sayers is on a roll in the NRC, having risen from nowhere into the top ten in the past month.
Both riders had trained for a peak at the San Francisco Grand Prix a week earlier, where Mitchell took fifth and Sayers sixth. The big difference today was that Sayers, whose team-mate Scott Moninger scratched from the race, rode alone, while Mitchell’s Kodak Gallery – Sierra Nevada squad was in booming form and very much in the mood to secure the win at an event that was sponsored by Sierra Nevada.
Forewarned is forearmed, and having raced here last year the team conserved their energy in the first hour, letting others work hard with the steep hills and strong winds. In the second half of the race they began their attacks, and Mitchell was one of the main movers in a 15-rider breakaway that shaped the outcome.
Sayers and riders from the Sea Silver team worked hard in whittling this group down to seven, and going into the final few laps it became three. With one of the 2.5 mile laps remaining, it was Mitchell, Sayers and Sea Silver rider Neil Shirley. As they approached the final ascent of the main climb in the race, a 300 yard ascent starting with 7%, then 15% and finishing with a 9% gradient, Shirley touched Mitchell’s wheel and crashed out of the group.
It briefly looked like a last-lap battle would shape up between Sayers and Mitchell. But Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics), Los Gatos, and Daniel Ramsey, (Sea Silver), Ventura, made a big effort over the main climb, down the hill and up the next one to reach the leaders, taking with them Mitchell’s team-mate Scott Zwizanski, of Spring City, PA. As each of the two protagonists two spent their energy and dropped off the pace, Zwizanski seized his chance. “I had my best legs all season today. I thought I’d try for a place in the top three and see if I could help Glen secure the win. I went up to them and Glen told me he had a sprint in him, so I led him out,” said Zwizanski.
Sayers scarcely was happy with second place. All things considered he felt he had made a pretty good fist of it. “I came here all alone, so I’m totally satisfied. I got NRC points here and probably moved up into the top 10. It’s been a good day for me,” he said. Sayers gave the Infineon track the thumbs-up, adding, “It’s an excellent venue here.”
As for Mitchell, from the trackside point of view, the day always looked to be his. It seemed that the Kodak Gallery – Sierra Nevada team could do no wrong. “I’m definitely enjoying it while my form’s lasting. It’s been a long season and at this end it’s difficult to predict how long good form will last. I’m riding well now. I had a perfect position with Scott leading me out . it was more a sprint of strength than speed. It was a great race by Mike Sayers, but he was the only member of his team.”
ELITE WOMEN 1/2
Redwood City’s Karen Brems (Webcor Builders) won the Supercuts Women Road Circuit Race, surging past teammate Stefanie Graeter of Fairfax, 2003 collegiate national champion for CAL, on the last lap to take the victory in the two-hour race. The 12-turn, 2.52-mile circuit race featured 26 competitors.
Two Webcor Builder riders, Bettina Hold and Cat Malone, initiated the breakaway mid-way through the race. Helene Drumm (Morgan Stanley/Specialized/24 Hr Fitness) bridged across to them and Hold dropped off leaving Drumm and teammate Malone out in front for 1 Â½ hours.
Going into the final three laps the gap closed and it was anyone’s race. Drumm and Malone were swallowed up by a fast-finishing bunch and Graeter, with legs left to attack, solo’d out in front for a lap.
Starting the final climb, the bunch retrieved Graeter, and Brems, formerly a time trial world champion, saw an opportunity to blunt the edge of noted sprinter Brenda Lyons (Touchstone Climbing) with a long-range finish line surge. “I attacked up the climb on the last lap and when I saw I had a gap I decided to try and hold onto it,” said Brems, who also serves as Webcor’s team manager. “It was a good team race in terms of the tactics we used. We worked well together.”
Brems’s attack strung out the field and Sarah Bamberger (Touchstone Climbing) overcame Taitt Sato (Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club) and claimed second. Sato powered to a third place and Drumm took the bunch sprint for 4th. Bettina Hold (Webcor), El Dorado Hills, finished fifth and Lyons 6th.
Despite having led the race for more than an hour Helen Drumm was pleased with fourth position. “I’m not a professional, I mainly race for fun. My buddy Otis Guy relieved me at the fire station this morning, and I decided then that I’d come over and race. While I was out front I pretended I was on my weekly commute from San Anselmo to school in San Francisco.”