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Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling)
Bissell strong man powers into Elk Grove lead
Tom Zirbel (Bissell) won the richest time trial in America at the Tour of Elk Grove opener on Friday. He blasted through the seven-kilometre course in a time of 8:25 and took away $4000, roughly $500 per minute of his time.
In it's fourth year, the Tour of Elk Grove has expanded into a three-day stage race offering an opening time trial, a technical, 150-kilometre circuit race, and a concluding criterium on Sunday in Chicago, Illinois. More importantly is the $125,000 in cash prizes, of which $25,000 is awarded to the overall winner.
"In all likelihood I'm not going to gain any seconds," Zirbel said. "It's just a matter of not getting time-gapped and putting our other guys in position to win and eat up some time bonuses."
Runner up Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) missed out on the top prize by a mere one second while third placed Karl Menzies (OUCH-Maxxis) finished four seconds back.
Team Bissell and BMC placed several riders inside the top 10 which should ensure a tactical race as the stages progress.
"The time bonuses are huge and the finish bonuses are really big so it will be a tactical race," said Bookwalter. "Zirbel may not be known as the most technically savvy rider but over the past year I have seen him improve ten-fold and I do not discount him for the overall."
The opening time trial put mere seconds between each rider and the time bonuses make the overall title within reach between a mix of overall general classification riders and sprinters.
"I think everyone went into it wanting to come out with a good time," Menzies said. "It's such a close race that everyone has to put in their best effort. I think anyone who rode in the top 30 is still in it for the overall. There are 20 seconds of bonuses just at the finish line."