MERCED, CA – The 2012 MERCO Cycling Classic is a 4-day Stage Race being held March 1-4, 2012. It consists of the Merced Irrigation District Road Race March 1; Merced Boosters Time Trial March 2; McDonald’s Downtown Grand Prix March 3; and the Hilltop Ranch Road Race March 4. The MERCO Cycling Classic has long been considered the unofficial beginning of the U.S. Race Season, and the Pro/1/2 Team Simple Green/Bike Religion squad is hoping to use this race not only to gauge fitness but to show form and gain recognition to help in being selected to ride the biggest races later in the year.
For more info on each stage race, please visit www.topsportcycling.com.
Stage 1 – MID Road Race – March 1, 2012by Christiaan Kriek
Today’s race was fairly chilly, mid 40’s with some rain later on which made conditions quite treacherous in the bunch. There were KOM points located on the top of a nasty 3 mile climb at a gradient of 7-8% as well as Sprint points at the start/finish area of each lap. This made the racing fairly aggressive right from the start. I decided that I wanted to go in an early move and launched an attack about a mile from the top of the climb. I immediately got a gap and consolidated it to about 20seconds when I saw a Bissell rider jumping across. He unfortunately took the KOM and I had to settle for 2nd.
We got pulled back on the downhill section on the other side of the climb. The downhill was very fast and not very technical, so it aided the bunch in pulling back breakaways. I attacked again at the bottom of the descent on one of the rollers and they decided to let me go this time. I opened up a gap of 90 seconds and saw that there was a lone figure in the form of Devan Dunn from Cashcall trying to bridge across to me. He eventually made it across and we started
working together, initially. We shared the primes up until the point where we realized that we both actually really wanted the Combined Sprinters/KOM Jersey. That messed up the organization of the break since neither of us really wanted to do hard pulls on the front if the other one is going to either attack him or sprint him for the prime. We stayed away for a good 3 laps of the 6. I eventually ended up with 25 points which tied me with the race winner from Bissell for the Combined Jersey (25 points for the stage win unfortunately )- speaking under correction, results not final at the time of this report.
The last part of the race was well controlled by Kelly Benefit Strategies, Team Exergy and Bissell, shutting down gaps to hopeful escapees! The race was back together in the last 5 kms for a bunch sprint. I was not feeling as fresh as I did before the race, and couldn’t really contest for the stage win. I rolled in 16th, with teammates Jos le Roux and Connor McCutcheon in the top 20.
Stage 2 – Merced Boosters Time Trial – March 2, 2012
Click Here for LIVE timing results, starting at 11:00 a.m. (PST) on Friday, March 2, 2012.
Individual Time Trial Results (136 Competitors in the Pro/1/2 field):
- Christiaan Kriek, 23rd
- Connor McCutcheon, 40th
- Austin Carroll, 56th
- Andre Bolina Carriao, 132nd
Stage 3 – MacDonald’s Downtown Grand Prix – March 3, 2012
For the results of Stage 3, click here.