Merco Cycling Classic

Sporting the Jakroo Sprint Jersey (Weicht), Young Rider (Loader) and Most Passionate (Olheiser). Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Sporting the Jakroo Sprint Jersey (Weicht), Young Rider (Loader) and Most Aggressive (Olheiser). Photo Credit: Danny Munson

The CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team completed their first stage race of the season, the Merco Cycling Classic. The team had a great showing, winning the Green Points Jersey, the Purple U25/Young Rider Jersey and the Red Most Aggressive Rider Jersey!

This is a 4 day event beginning with an 82 mile road race on Thursday. Friday brought a fast 12-mile Individual Time Trial event where the best racers in the country tested their bodies and equipment against the clock. Saturday hosted the fan-favorite downtown Criterium on a fast and technical 8-turn course. Capping off the event was the 120 mile Hilltop Road Race winding through the almond groves.

We took an excellent squad to the event: Michael Olheiser, David Santos, Michael Weicht, Brian McCulloch, Cole House, Wes Holloway, Justin Williams, Fabrizio Von Nacher, and Logan Loader.

Thursday Feburary 28th: Merced Irrigation District Road Race, 82 miles

Team member David Santos took some time after the race for a phone interview with Cycling Illustrated’s Brandon Hale to recount the action of the day. You can listen to David’s report HERE.

Results from Stage One: HERE

Friday March 1st: Merced Boosters Time Trial, 12 miles

Logan Loader recounts stage 2 of the event:

Logan Loader on his way to a 10th place performance in the Individual Time Trial. Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Logan Loader on his way to a 10th place performance in the Individual Time Trial. Photo Credit: Danny Munson

“Friday March 1st, I began warming up for my time trial, the second stage of the Merco Cycling Classic. It was a warm breezy day in Merced, CA. Within 10 minutes of being on the bike, I knew my legs were pretty good. The day before during the first stage, I was involved in a crash about 2k from the finish. Because of this, I wasn’t exactly sure if I would be feeling 100% for the time trial, an event I had set my sights on. Fortunately, as I started doing a few efforts during my warm-up, things were looking good.

The course was a straight out and back course with a lump in the middle, making for a 3k climb in both directions. With a head wind on the way out, I know it would be tricky with pacing it correctly. Instinct would tell you to use most energy fighting the head wind during the first half on the way out, when actually the best way to do it is save enough in the tank for a good pace on the climb in the second half.

I knew I had all the advantages with equipment that I was riding. Including my iRT I85C front wheel along with my iRT disc. Also adding to the equation was my Jakroo Pro SL Skin Suit and Rudy Project Wingspan Time Trial Helmet. I knew if I had a good time trial, I would be in the Best Young Rider jersey for the event, but I also knew it would take a 100 % effort on my part.

As I exited the start ramp and began my effort, I quickly felt I was having a good ride. As the time trial went on and on the suffering went deeper and deeper, but the speed remained fast and consistent. I crossed the finish line and heard that I had just clocked the fastest time of the day. This made for a fun few minutes as the remaining riders completed their races. After a while, the time trial specialists began breaking my race time. However, the young riders did not. By the end of the day I had collected the Best Young Rider jersey by 39 seconds. The best part of this was it gave the team a reward and a jersey to protect after they worked so hard for me the day before only to finish with a crash at the end of the day.”

Results from Stage Two: HERE

Saturday March 2nd: McDonald’s Downtown Grand Prix, 40 miles

Stage 3 of Merco is always an exciting event. With 8 technical turns, the field get’s strung out from the gun. We took all 9 of our riders into the criterium with the following goals: Retain Logan’s Young Rider Jersey; Help Michael Weicht gain points towards the Points Jersey by winning the Hot Sprint laps though out the race; and to win the stage!

Fabrizio Von Nacher recounts the race from within the peloton:

19 year old Sprinter Fabrizio Von Nacher. Photo Credit: Danny Munson

19 year old Sprinter Fabrizio Von Nacher. Photo Credit: Danny Munson

“The plan in the race was to get Michi on the break so that he could win the sprint points thus gaining the green jersey. There were points on the line at the finish as well, so we wanted to lead him out for a good result in the sprint.

We also needed to keep Logan safe through out the race in order for him to retain the purple Young Rider jersey. We wanted him to save as much energy as possible for the Sunday road race.

The course was really fun and very technical. It was fast and really hard to get to the front because the streets were so narrow, which made it a little bit dangerous.

The race went great for the team. Early in the race, Michi went in the breakaway with 4 other riders including US National Criterium Champion Ken Hanson of Optum. There were no GC threats in the break, so the Bissel team went to the front of the peloton and kept a steady pace, keeping the break at just under a minute up the road for most of the race.

The last 4 laps, Bissel started ramping up the pace and we knew it would be a sprint finish. My teammates were doing a great job keeping me out of the wind and at the front of the race, right behind Bissel. On the last lap, I was behind 3 of my teammates, right behind Logan. Out of the last turn, Logan made a huge effort. I knew Hanson was going to sprint, so with 250 meters to go, I jumped on his wheel, but didn’t quite have enough to come around the champs wheel. The team helped me place 2nd, and Michi finished 5. After the stage, Michi would wear the green Points Jersey, Logan still had his purple Young Rider Jersey and we got second on the stage.”

Results from Stage 3: HERE

March 3rd: Hilltop Road Race, 120 Miles

The last stage of Merco was a circuit with sprint points up for grabs each time the peloton crossed the start/finish line. Justin Williams looks back on the events of the stage.

Fabrizio Von Nacher leading Michael Weicht out for the sprint points while Justin Williams guards the duo. Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Fabrizio Von Nacher leading Michael Weicht out for the sprint points while Justin Williams guards the duo. Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Going into the last stage we had simple goals. First, we wanted to keep Logan in the Best Young Riders jersey. Next, we wanted to get Michi up the road with one other guy to sweep up the points classification sprints on every lap and with the ultimate goal for him to keep the green Points Jersey. We also wanted to always ride together with our teammates and never let any moves go up the road without us. We wanted to win the stage, but in the end we ended up with 3 jerseys, and its hard to ask for more.

Personally, I had an important job helping Michi get the sprint points. It was a different role for me because I rarely get to help defend a sprinter. It was cool seeing the race threw a domestique position. It made me appreciate what my guys do for me even more. I was so humbled and grateful. Fabrizio led Michi out for each sprint and I helped keep him safe and other riders out of contention.

We were very pleased to have a CashCall rider in every move. Brian McCulloch spent 25 miles in a 6-man break which allowed the rest of us to stay out of the chase and stay protected in the peloton. As soon as BMc’s move came back, Michael Olheiser went with the counter attack which was just him and Tom Zirble of Optum. This effort by Mike awarded him the Most Aggressive Rider jersey at the end of the stage. Winning this jersey on the last day shows that the team was always on top of moves. We made sure we were all at or near the front of the race, allowing only the Bissel Team to be in front of us because their rider Phil Gaimon was in the yellow Leaders Jersey.

In the final 5 kilometers of the race Cole and I were cooked! We gave one more deep dig to keep Michi, Logan, and Fez out of the wind as long as we could. It didn’t work out for the win, but I was so proud to be apart of this team and we had a great weekend. Everyone was happy!

We have always been close as a team, but this weekend we became a unit and the ‘team’ was more important then anything else. The results prove that.”

Results from Stage 4: HERE