Nineteen-year-old New Zealander Sam Gaze (Specialized) pulled off a startling win against 80 other men in the Whiskey Fat Tire Criterium on Friday night. He did not do it by a sneaky move at the end, but instead by pummeling hardened veterans of the sport on the front.
Last year’s winner, Derek Zandstra (Scott - 3Rox Racing), finished second in a solid effort. Former World Champion, Christoph Sauser, was third followed by Menso DeJong (Cliff Bar) in fourth place, with Geoff Kabush (Scott - 3Rox Racing) rounding out the podium in fifth place.
Alison Dunlap, former world champion, was given the privilege of reading pre-race instructions to the riders. A man in full western garb then started the race with a blast from a shotgun. Riders immediately had to face the head wall leading out of the town square where Keegan Swenson went to the front.
But, within a couple laps, a group formed that include three Specialized riders; Howard Grotts, Todd Wells, and Sam Gaze. Raleigh Clement also had numbers with Fernado Paez and Kerry Werner.
Suddenly Menso DeJong sprung from the group and amassed a substantial lead. Many spectators began checking their racing rosters to see who this relatively unknown rider was. DeJong eventually forced Zandstra and Wells to give chase, and in the process they dropped the rest of the field.
At this point, Gaze made a calculated gamble that paid off. He decided to bridge the gap to Wells with a massive effort that none of the other chasers could match. He later explained, “All the way through it was a really fast race. My teammate Todd was in the breakaway so I knew that was going to be the key moment. I got myself across…and I loved it.“
With two laps to go, Wells went for the win but could not shake his rivals. Gaze again went to the front and stayed there. As he rounded the final corner on the course, he looked backwards and found that nobody could really challenge him in a sprint finish.
Somewhere in the final laps, Sauser also joined the leaders and rode in for a podium finish.
Gaze commented on his new team, “The support from Specialized has been amazing. I’m looking to get myself a good name out there, and build a good relationship with the team.”
The pro men will race again on Sunday in the Whiskey 50. Former world champion Christoph Sauser will attempt to repeat his 2014 victory. He will face major challenges from within his own team from US champion Todd Wells, and Pan American under-23 champion Howard Grotts.
Scott - 3Rox Racing is the most likely team to upset Sauser’s plan. Geoff Kabush is a former Whisky 50 winner, and Derek Zandstra finished second last year.
Fernando Paez (Raleigh Clement) is the most likely person to play “spoiler” on Sunday. Last year he was the only rider to be able to match Sauser’s tempo on the 12-mile climb out of Skull Valley.
Woodruff repeats as Whiskey Fat Tire Criterium Champion
Chloe Woodruff (NoTubes Niner) certainly had her hands full in a one-on-one battle with Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), but she came out on top. Gould finished second, young Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) was third, 2013 winner Katerina Nash was fourth, and up-and-comer Larissa Connors (Sho-Air Cyclery) was fifth.
The Whiskey Fat Tire course includes a head wall climb immediately after the start, immediately followed by a deceptively difficult false flat climb to the top of a ridge overlooking Prescott. Riders then descend through the city streets back to the Courthouse in the center of town.
Rose Grant (NoTubes) did much of the early work and created a split in the peloton. Woodruff was frequently seen by her side, while Gould, Rochette, Connors and others kept pace.
Katerina Nash, a frequent winner at these types of events, seemed to struggle early on, but was riding for a podium position by mid-race. She told Cyclingnews after the race that she had been battling some illness during the past two weeks.
By mid-race, Woodruff and Gould managed to break away from the group and seemed to be working together at the front. Woodruff explained, “It was exciting the whole way through. Georgia and I were working together to keep the pace high, and with three to go Maghs almost caught us at the top of the climb.”
She added, “I was a little worried that with Katerina right behind her, we would group back together and I would be out-numbered. So, I put in a good effort to keep things separate.”
With three laps to go, Rochette and Nash caught and passed Grant. At the finish, Nash appeared to recognize the efforts of her younger teammate by not challenging her for the third place finish.
Rose Grant lost her podium position late in the race when passed by Larissa Connors. Both have looked sharp all season.
Woodruff was clearly pleased with her victory. She moved to Prescott from Tucson a couple years after spending some time training here. She commented, “I want to thank everyone from coming out. It’s really exciting to race at home.”
The pro women will race again on Sunday in the Whiskey 50 where Woodruff will attempt to repeat her 2014 victory. However, she will once again face the two Olympians on the Luna squad, Nash and Gould, plus their scrappy new Canadian rider Maghalie Rochette.
Erin Huck (Scott - 3Rox Racing), who was expected to be a factor, did not start tonight’s criterium race.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sam Gaze (Nzl) Specialized|
|2||Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI|
|3||Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specialized|
|4||Menso De Jong (USA) Clif Bar- Niner Bikes- SRAM mtb|
|5||Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI|
|6||Cole Oberman (USA) RareDiseaseCycling.org- Specialized- DNA Cycling|
|7||Howard Grotts (USA) Specialized|
|8||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized- Clifbar- Oakley|
|9||Benjamin Sonntag (USA) Clif Bar- Niner Bikes- SRAM|
|10||Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Bicycles- Shimano- Fox- Stages Cycling|
|11||Brian Matter (USA) KS Energy- MOSH- Trek|
|12||Fernando Riveros Paez (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Shimano|
|13||Marc-antoine Nadon (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI|
|14||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona Bikes- Shimano- Fox|
|15||Justin Lindine (USA) competitivecyclist.com- Vittoria Tires- Yeti Bikes|
|16||Joao Paulo Pereira (USA) Scott Brasil- Assc Batatais-|
|17||Tom Sampson (USA) Vittoria/Yeti/POC|
|18||Carl Decker (USA) Giant Bicycles- SRAM- Schwalbe|
|19||Antoine Caron (Can) Pivot Cycles- ENVE- OTE|
|20||Kerry Werner (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Shimano|
|21||Payson Mcelveen (USA) competitivecyclist.com- Vittoria Tires- Yeti Bikes|
|22||Keegan Swenson (USA) Sho-Air- Cannondale- Kenda|
|23||Kris Sneddon (USA) Kona- Logging- Mom and Dad|
|24||Tristan Uhl (USA) competitivecyclist.com- Vittoria Tires- Yeti Bikes|
|25||Marc-andré Daigle (Can) Louis Garneau Sport / Quebecor|
|26||Kyle Trudeau (USA) AZ Devo-|
|27||Brandon Mills (USA) Moment Bikes- Braveheart Racing|
|28||Levi Kurlander (USA) Trek Bicycles / Ska Brewing / Zia Taqueria|
|29||Greg Krieger (USA) Vanlyfe.com|
|30||Henry Svendblad (USA) Nationwide- Trek- Flat Tire Bike Shop|
|31||Steven Beeler (USA) Area 51 / Oro Valley Bicycle|
|32||Alexandre Mantovani (USA) MARCEH Intl.- Borelli- Assc. do Ribeirao Preto.|
|33||Chris Jackson (USA) Castex Rentals- Enve Composites- Sierra Pacific Farms|
|34||Lance Haidet (USA) Raleigh Clement Shimano|
|35||Peter Kalmes (USA) Sonoran Cycles|
|36||Adam Gaubert (USA)|
|37||Jamey Driscoll (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Full Speed Ahead|
|38||Ernie Watenpaugh (USA) Jack Daniels- Telluride Venture Accelerator- BMC Bikes|
|39||Chris Baddick (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport- Yogaglo|
|40||Tyler Gauthier (USA) Gauthier Insurance- Quick Stop Bike Shop|
|41||Tj Woodruff (USA) Pivot- Stans NoTubes- Momentum Endurance|
|42||Kenny Wehn (USA)|
|43||Caleb Thompson (USA) CRC Janitorial- Cannondale- Smith Optics|
|44||Stephan Davoust (USA) Giant Co-Factory|
|45||Adam Looney (USA) Bikeparts.com- Peak Cycles|
|46||Bryan Alders (USA) TrainingPeaks- Yeti- Pactimo|
|47||Howard Grotts (USA) Specialized|
|48||Ryan Petry (USA) Tri-Scottsdale- Endurance Conspiracy|
|49||Patrick Chartrand (Can) Powerwatts Nord- Zibo Restaurants- Cycles Lambert|
|50||Cameron Jette (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI|
|51||Mark Flis (USA) Squadra Clothing- Spy Optics|
|52||Dana Weber (USA) Stage 21- CytoSport|
|53||Matthew Turner (USA) Summit-Competitive Cyclist- Pivot|
|54||Kurt Refsnider (USA) Salsa Cycles- UltraMTB.net- Prescott College|
|55||Michael R Sampson (USA) Competitive Cyclist- Summit Bike Club- Pivot Cycles|
|56||Jonathan Sundt (USA) Giant|
|57||Hunter Keating (USA) Harmony Systems Pro Cycling|
|58||Jesse Kelly (USA)|
|59||Raul Cancado (USA) MARCEH Intl.- Assoc ciclismo Dourados-|
|60||Jason Hilimire (USA) FasCat Coaching-Geneva Bicycle Center|
|61||Ricky Willis (USA) Paragon/bootdoctors - Telluride cycling club|
|62||Mark Feeney (USA) Trigger Point- Road ID- Dirty Dog Eyewear|
|63||Greg Gibson (USA)|
|64||Kristofer Ochs (USA) Tokyo Joes- POC- Scott|
|65||Sam Chovan (USA) Honey Stinger- Bontrager- Trek|
|66||Ian Wilkey (USA) AZ Devo- Trek Bikes- Cadence Promotions|
|67||Nick Thomas (USA) Arizona Devo- Trek/Bicycle Ranch- Cadence Promotions|
|68||Tim Racette (USA) McDowell Mountain Cycles- Mikes Mix Recovery Drink- Schwalbe Tires|
|69||Corey Stelljes (USA) Cannondale- SRAM- Motorless Motion Bicycles|
|70||Thomas Gauthier (Can) Pivot- enve- OTE|
|71||Nick Truitt (USA) Breck Bike Guides- Shimano- Naturally Fast|
|72||Nick Skaggs (USA) Nationwide Insurance- Trek Bicycle- Flat Tire Bike Shop|
|73||Dax Massey (USA) Planet Foods/Peak Nutrients- Light & Motion- Stans NoTubes|
|74||Nathan Miller (USA) ENVE Composites- Drunkcyclist- TWC|
|75||John Nobil (USA) bear valley bikes specialized team ninja|
|DNF||Jason Hanson (USA) Bicycle Experience- Rotor Components- Old Lady|
|DNF||Reusable Reusable (USA) Validation Matters- GPE Racing- Athlete Octane|
|DNF||Jakub Valigura (USA) 92Fifty/Eleveted Legs- Ergon- Smith Optics|
|DNF||Jonathon Firth (Can) Honey stinger-Smithoptics-planet foods|
|DNF||Adam Morka (Can) Trek Canada|
|DNF||Dave Harrison (USA) Club Ride- Borealis- Orbea|
|DNF||Michael Muhlestein (USA) ENVE- Bikers Edge- Destination Homes|
|DNF||Nick Fisher (USA) Enve- Destination Homes- Togs|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Chloe Woodruff (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Niner Bikes- Clif Bar|
|2||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna- Orbea- Fox|
|3||Maghalie Rochette (Can) Luna- Orbea- Fox|
|4||Katerina Nash (USA) Luna- Orbea- Fox|
|5||Larissa Connors (USA) Sho Air Cyclery- Cannondale- Enve Composites|
|6||Rose Grant (USA) Stans|
|7||Evelyn Dong (USA) Sho air/cannondale- crank brothers- smith optics|
|8||Serena Bishop Gordon (USA) LIV|Giant CLIF Bar- Julbo|
|9||Beisel Amy (USA) Liv Cycling- SRAM- Osmo Nutrition|
|10||Caroline Mani (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Shimano|
|11||Mical Dyck (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Cannondale- Kenda|
|12||Erin Alders (USA) Ride Biker Alliance- Ol Republic Brewery- Sho-Air|
|13||Megan Chinburg (USA) Liv Cycling- Sellwood Cycles- BikeFlights.com|
|14||Heidi Rentz (USA) Ibis- The Cycling House- GU Energy|
|15||Kata Skaggs (USA) Adventure Bike Company- Fast Forward Chiropractic|
|16||Liz Carrington (USA) CRC-Janitorial (Durango- CO)- Hassle Free Sports (Durango- CO) Mavic|
|17||Emily Shields (USA) Stan's NoTubes|
|18||Evelyn Racette (USA) Mike's Mix Recovery Drink|
|19||Jennifer Smith (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Cannondale Bicycles- Griggs Orthopedics Performance|
|20||Nina Baum (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Cannondale- Kenda|
|DNS||Mindy Mulliken (USA) Cogma- Mountain Peak Nutrients- Honey Stinger|
|DNS||Erin Huck (USA) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI|
|DNS||Abbey Alexiades (USA) Liv Cycle- Giant- SRAM|