It is no surprise that the Bissell Pro Cycling Team took a strong lead in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, which kicked off yesterday with a nearly 10-kilometre time trial. The squad, renowned for its time trialing ability, took the stage win with specialist Tom Zirbel.and placed six riders inside the top twelve.
"It was a good day for us. Having six guys in the top 12 was a long shot a couple of months ago, but watching the way they have progressed, I wasn't surprised," said directeur sportif. Glen Mitchell. "The guys are healthy and they do the training they need to be able to get through the races. We are known for our time trialing and the guys are in a good position. Based on the GC results after the first stage we have options in the road races and we just need to maintain what we've gained in the criteriums."
Zirbel did what he does best by storming into the leaders' jersey after winning the opening Riverfront time trial in a time of 12:36. Defending Champion, Rory Sutherland racing for OUCH p/b Maxxis cruised in for second place, sandwiched between Zirbel and his teammate Peter Latham.
"I was a little surprised with my time trial today because I didn't know how my legs would recover from Sunday's effort," said Zirbel who plugged his way through a lengthy breakaway in the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championships last weekend. "I felt really flat yesterday and I was just banking on them coming around this morning. The power was there, but it didn't feel good today."
He maintained his lead in the overall classification during the stage two St. Paul criterium despite the numerous intermediate time bonuses available. Bissell took the responsibility of setting tempo on the front for the majority of the race to ward off any threatening breaks. The criterium came down to a field sprint won by Sebastian Haedo of the Colavita-Sutter Home team.
"You have to have a team that is good at all disciplines to be able to win," Mitchell said. "The rider has to be able to defend themselves in any situation. Tom is the first to let anyone know that the criterium is his weakness and his time trial is the strength that brings his name to the top of the leader board. This race is a matter of how can we win without having him go for time bonuses and keep our eyes on who is contending them each stage."