Current National Criterium Champion Brad Huff (Rally Cycling) gave good fight as he powered himself to the win atop 18% grade Chilkoot Hill. In spite being gapped after the climb for many of the 23 laps of the 1.4 mile course, Huff worked back into the front group by the last lap to launch his winning kick on the final climb to the finish.
"I was getting dropped every lap," said Huff. "I would go through this rotation where I would get dropped, and by the top of the hill I would make my way back up into the group behind Danny [Pate]. Then I'd get dropped, then I'd make it back to Danny. I would do that lap after lap to position myself for the hill, then at the end I just dug deep."
The Stillwater Criterium featured 10 turns and is marked by a fast downhill opposite the legendary climb. Riders descend sharply into two narrow right turns before the final climb.
"I don't ever get nervous on descents or turns," said Huff. "I always get nervous on uphills because I've got bones made of lead."
A break of 10 riders formed with less than four laps to go. Rally Cycling was together at the front of the field patrolling for yellow jersey Evan Huffman.
At three laps to go atop Chilkoot Hill, Joseph Schmaltz (Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle World) attacked from the small group. Huffman chased sans team to prevent sixth-placed Schmaltz from getting away.
When seventh-placed overall Nicolae Tanovitchii (Lupus Racing Team) counter-attacked, Huffman again responded.
"When Schmalz went the first time that was really really hard," said Huffman. "Then when Nicolae Tanovitchii went I had to follow that and I really suffered a lot. I had a buffer of 30-40 seconds but I didn't want to have to use it so I didn't have to panic up that finishing climb up at the end."
Behind Huffman, eventual stage-winner Huff found himself bridging to the lead group with teammate Tom Zirbel.
"I attacked out of the group and bridged to Tom Zirbel who was in no-man's land between the leaders and second group," said Huff. "Then Tom drove it and got me back into the field right at the descent. I just took a deep breath and knew that if I just hit it with all my momentum I might be able to get it."
Earlier in the race, Justin Williams (Cylance-Cannondale pro Cycling p/b Bicycle World) and Andrew Dahlheim (Team Arapahoe Resources) secured their bids for their jersey titles.
Williams won the first sprint points competition in the first lap of the race and secured his K'ul Chocolate Sprint Jersey lead. He then only had to complete at least 25% of the race to win the jersey.
"I was super excited [the sprint competition] was on the first lap!" said Williams.
Dahlheim's bid for the SportBeans King of the Hill jersey was a longer fight. He won the first KOH competition at 17 laps to go, but wasn't yet in the clear for the title.
"To be honest I was kind of nervous," explained Dahlheim. "It was pretty straightforward, I had one person to look out for. But sometimes when it's that easy you can tend to over think things and put a little bit more pressure on yourself than you really need."
Dahlheim's teammate Julio Padilla broke away and absorbed enough points in the following two King of the Hill competitions at 11 and five laps to go that Dahlheim's jersey win was secured.
Padilla was awarded the Surly Most Aggressive Jersey.
Twenty year old Ayden Toovey (Subaru NWIS & MS) won both the LeMond Best Young Rider jersey and the Penn Cycle Best Amateur jersey. The short, punchy hill profile of the course suited his strengths.
"I definitely prefer these strong-man courses," said Toovey. "I'm not a sprinter, I'm not a pure climber, I'm somewhere in between so this course suits me."
Rally Cycling won the team competition in spite of losing two riders at the Cannon Falls Road Race on Thursday.
"Danny and Zirbel are like four men apiece," said Huff. "[Evan] is so strong he can almost defend yellow by himself. We're really lucky to have those guys on our team."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Brad Huff (Rally Cycling)||1:24:45|
|2||Orlando Garibay (Cylance-Cannondale p/b Incycle)|
|3||Steve Fisher (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano-Specialized)|
|4||Nicolae Tanovitchii (Lupus Racing Team)|
|5||Thomas Zirbel (Rally Cycling)||0:00:04|
|6||Ulises Castillo (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo)||0:00:08|
|7||Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling)|
|8||Stefan Rothe (Elbowz Racing)|
|9||Brad Neagos (ICC Bissell-ABG-Giant)|
|10||Ayden Toovey (Subaru NSWIS & MS)|
|11||Erik Slack (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano-Specialized)||0:00:10|
|12||Joseph Schmalz (Elevate p/b Bicycle World)|
|13||Yannick Eckmann (North Memorial Health Care)||0:00:14|
|14||Eric Thompson (Donkey Label)||0:00:30|
|15||Danny Pate (Rally Cycling)||0:00:33|
|16||Connor Brown (Elevate p/b Bicycle World)||0:00:35|
|17||Christopher Winn (Podiumwear)||0:00:39|
|18||Gabriel Baca (Elbowz Racing)||0:00:42|
|19||Tobin Ortenblad (Donkey Label)||0:00:52|
|20||Alfredo Rodriquez (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo)||0:00:56|
|21||Cory Lockwood (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo)|
|22||Alejandro Padilla (Team Arapahoe Resources)|
|23||Adam Farabaugh (Support Clean Sport/SeaSucker/Guttenplan Coaching)||0:01:00|
|24||Aaron Beebe (ICC Bissell-ABG-Giant)||0:01:02|
|25||Morgan Schmitt (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano-Specialized)|
|26||Liam White (xXx Racing)||0:01:07|
|27||Peter Olejniczak (Podiumwear)||0:01:11|
|28||Jake Magee (Elbowz Racing)||0:01:14|
|29||Bryan Gomez (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek)||0:01:24|
|30||Kaler Marshall (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano-Specialized)||0:01:33|
|31||Matt Mcloone (Battley H-D /Spokes Etc)||0:01:47|
|32||Taylor Warren (Team Clif Bar Cycling)||0:01:52|
|33||Matthew Zimmer (Credite Velo Trek)||0:02:07|
|34||Ricky Randall (Team Arapahoe Resources)||0:02:15|
|35||Julio Padilla (Team Arapahoe Resources)||0:02:29|
|36||George Simpson (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek)||0:02:46|
|37||Cortlan Brown (Canyon Bicycles-Shimano-Specialized)||0:02:54|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling)|