Chico Stage Race: Podiums at TT & Crit


Chris Barton had a blazing fast time trial at the Chico Stage Race. The TT was the 4th stage and the teams 3rd stop on the podium where Chris placed 2nd. Here is his report of the event:

“After the bad luck of the road race, it was nice to wake up early, put our misfortunes behind us, and focus on the time trial. The time trial was a 10 mile point to point race, which was a nice change from the usual out-and-back time trials we are used to. Because the course was on the shorter side, I knew the start would be extra important. I got a good hour long warmup and felt confident that I had prepared properly. I started hard and quickly settled in to my rhythm. 

I soon noticed there was a wind coming from the right, so I decided to back off slightly as this meant the middle section of the course would have a head-wind and I would need to really punch it to make it through. After the first right turn, it was all-in. 

The headwind slowed my speed a bit, but I dug as deep as I could to stay on top of the gear. By the second and final right turn, I was starting to see red a bit, but I knew it was only about 3 miles to go so I put my head down and dug as deep as I could. 

I ended up getting second by only 3 seconds to Justin Rossi. Being so close to first place is a little bitter-sweet, and the mind tends to default to “man I could’ve saved a second here and here and here,” but I knew when I crossed the line that I had ridden perfectly and if I keep doing that I’ll come out on top one of these days. Justin Rossi is a strong competitor and I couldn’t be happier with my result.”

chico crit

The Chico Stage Race capped off with a 70 minute downtown criterium, just a few hours after the racers finished their time trials. Brian McCulloch recounts the 4th and final stage of a great event:

The Downtown Chico Criterium was the fourth and final stage of our three day tour of the NorCal/Chico area and what a great venue it was! The crowd was rowdy and excited for our race having just watched a great women’s race. I may be biased, but I am sure they were all as impressed as I was to watch my lovely wife sprint to the finish and win the field sprint of Women’s race. The women’s race showed major attrition for the field and how the cumulative fatigue for the Stage Race was taking its toll on the racers. This fact was not lost on our peloton as we gathered in the staging area.

Our plan for the race was simple, ride together at the front, protect Fabi and Barton for the sprint/lead-out, and stay out of trouble. This strategy seemed simple but the difficulty was compounded on the narrow technical course. Fast crits like this are awesome, we have a blast doing them, but there is a certain amount of anxiety for us as the tight confines make the peloton repeatedly try to cram 40 bike races into a spot more suited for 25 riders. Where those extra fifteen riders squeeze themselves into is always a feat of skill and mostly sheer luck, I am not entirely sure why there are not more crashes. Each of us lose count as to how many times there is contact between us and other riders, handlebars to hips, tires to drop-outs, shoulders to heads, and sometimes even contact from riders on both sides of us! This is never ill-intentioned by us or our competition, rather it is a reflection of putting 150 slightly-nutty bike riders on a course who all want their piece of glory. It may be stressful, but it is so much fun!

During the race I was able to be at the front sweeping Fabi’s wheel with my boys. We were in the ‘sprinters bubble’ so there was a lot of contact and movement going on which is always fun, but having teammates in the mix with me makes this so much easier. Mr. Barton did an amazing job of riding with Fabi and between him, Ulises, Santos, and I we were able to chase back a dangerous break-away that was threatening to our desire for a sprint finish. In the end everyone contributed to helping take care of Fabi to keep him rested for the final. Wayland, D’Aurelio, and all of us did our part to protect our sprinter, but as the laps wound down our effort to stay at the front took more fight.

With one lap to go we were still at the front with Fabi, sitting on the lead out train of Optum and we pushed hard to get Fabi in a solid position. He went into the last turn in third place and never looked back, he sprinted to a very respectable third place on the stage. We were hoping for the win, but our hats are off to Optum, we made some tactical errors in the final lap and they finished 1-2 on the day. 

It was great to finish off the race with a podium result and a huge welcome from our host families that met us at our pit area. Getting to share our stories from the Downtown Criterium with the host families and hear them talk about cheering us on made our day. This weekend the Chico Stage Race made a special place in our hearts, with great race courses, friendly staff, and incredible host families we will definitely be looking forward to this race for next year!”

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

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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