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."