Last weekend marked the second year the KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo Cycling Team competed in the Chico Stage Race. A nine hour drive north did not deter our riders from pinning their numbers on at one of best stage races of the season. Boasting 4 stages in just 3 days, the volume and intensity the event had to offer was too good to pass up.
Heading into Chico, Efren Flores has received the bad news that his hand was broken from a crash at Rosena Ranch. As he began his diligent recovery at home, we took Fabrizio Von Nacher, Brian McCulloch, Ulises Castillo, Robert Freeman and Cory Lockwood to race at the event.
Stage 1: Thunderhill Raceway Circuit Race The team entered this stage confident that the end would come down to a sprint finish at that Fabrizio would be best suited for a podium finish here. In the final 200 meters, Fabi was in the perfect position to launch his sprint when he got tangled and hit the raceway hard. Brian McCulloch was on his wheel and was able to avoid issues and sprinted to 6th place at the finish. Unfortunately, the crash took Fabi out of the remainder of the event.
Stage 2: Paskenta Road Race – 90 Miles The road course at Chico consists of 2, 45 mile loops, each of which contains a 5 mile dirt and gravel section. Although it is a season-favorite of our riders, it sure takes its toll on them.
Ulises Castillo outlasted the conditions and terrain to find himself in the front group as the finishing climb approached. He placed 10th on the stage, improving his General Classification spot significantly. We asked him a few questions about the race:
KHS: “How did you like the dirt section?”
Ulises Castillo: “I really liked the dirt section, it made me feel like I was the racing the Spring Classics in Belgium.”
Stage 3: Time Trial – 10 miles
Sunday at the Chico Stage Race is challenging because it is a double day. The morning began with a 10 mile flat time trial through the orchards on the outskirts of town. Going into the TT, we were excited for each of our athletes to test themselves against the clock. We were confident that Cory Lockwood would have a good ride, and that Ulises just might be able to have a great ride that would put him within striking distance of the GC podium.
Ulises finished an impressive 10th in the time trial.
KHS: “At the time trial, you had a great result finishing 10th. Did you know you had ride that well?”
UC: “Not really. I felt a little bit uncomfortable with my position, because I haven’t really had many hours training on my TT bike. But I was riding as hard as I could go.”
Stage 4: Downtown Criterium – 75 minutes
With just a few hours between the completion of the time trial and the criterium, the riders knew it was paramount to refuel, rest, and get mentally ready for 75 minutes of fast-paced racing. The crit course is great, with 5 turns traversing downtown Chico.
Ulises was motivated from the gun as he animated the race with attacks and counter attacks.
KHS: “You were on fire in the crit! How many breaks were you in before the final move that stuck? Did you like the course?”
UC: “I was feeling pretty good and I knew Rally Racing was going to go super hard to make a break stick. I was in about 5 different moves before the final move went up the road. I was glad I was in it! The course was super fun and fast!”
As the laps wound down, it was apparent Ulises was in the winning move of about 8 riders. As the group rounded the final turn, he was in great position and sprinted for a photo finish in 3rd place.
This result improved his General Classification standing to 4th overall, which was a great achievement for both him and his teammates.
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, Infinit Nutrition, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Big Wheel Coaching, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
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