The KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo Cycling Team had a fantastic showing at the North Star Grand Prix. The event spans 5 days and 6 stages, beginning with a 5 mile time trial. Chris Barton logged the fastest time of the team, landing just 2 seconds off of the podium in 6th place. From there, the team continued to improve on their stage finishes by animating the criteriums and road races, ultimately winning the penultimate stage on Sunday – the Stillwater Criterium.
With 6 riders in the race, the team was able to have representation in multiple breakaways where Ulises Castillo was able to gain the KOM Climbers Jersey during the Cannon Falls Road Race, which he retained until the 5th stage in Menomonie.
Chris Barton stayed true to his 6th place in the time trial, placing in the top 10 all but one of the 6 stages. His results landed him in 14th overall and solidified his performance as the strongest and most consistent of the season thus far.
With the help of Brian McCulloch, Shawn Wayland and Efren Flores, the team was able to position Fabrizio and Chris in the finals of the criteriums. With the teams solid results, they finished the event 6th overall team classification. The highest honors of the event, however, go to Fabrizio Von Nacher for his win at Stillwater.
KHS: You placed 5th in both the St. Paul and Minneapolis criteriums and went on to win Stillwater. How did these go for you and the team?
FVN: The first criteriums were super fast and the team rode great to put me in a good position for the sprint, as well as helping me save energy in every stage. I’m so glad I could repay them with a win the last day!
KHS: This is your 3rd year racing North Star, and these results were by far your best. What was different about your preparation going into this years event?
FVN: Well, I have been doing more specific training for this event with Paul Abrahams, my coach and team director. And of course knowing the race courses helps a lot.
KHS: What was the game plan for Stillwater?
FVN: The game plan for Stillwater was to win. In a break or in the sprint, it didn’t matter how. So the day before, the guys and I, together with Paul, started to study the different possible ways the race could go. We came to the conclusion that a break was going to be the key and we needed to be aggressive beginning on lap one.
KHS: You were in the breakaway from the 2nd lap on, how did that go?
FVN: Well, like I said, I knew a break was going to go and in the second road race (Menomonie Road Race, Stage 5) it went from the beginning. So I just started hard and saw a group forming off the front. Optum (yellow jersey team) was lining up behind them and I knew that was the move. I attacked on the downhill and sprinted up the climb to get into the little group and start rolling the move.
KHS: How was it sprinting up the 18% grade of Chilkoot Hill to win at the top?
FVN: It’s a tricky sprint because it’s easy to get confused and go too early. I knew I needed to be patient. But at the same time, I needed to be in a good position at the bottom and be 100% focused. If you don’t go at the exact time, it may be to early or to late. The climb was about 30-40 seconds, with a false flat over the top.
KHS: What was the #1 piece of sponsor equipment that helped you win on Stillwater?
FVN: Well all the sponsor equipment helped me in the race. I don’t think there’s one that help more than the other. We have the best and it work. But my Maxxis tires sure helped with my confidence on the sharp descending turns.
KHS: What’s next for you?
FVN: I am in Mexico now for my Road Race National Championships, then I go back to the USA.
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
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