American Todd Wells was the favourite coming into the men's six-lap race, fresh off his California win at Fontana, but there were plenty of other riders in contention, including Canada's Max Plaxton and Wells' countryman Sam Schultz.
However, it was unheralded Reubens Valeriano of Brazil who joined Wells at the front on the first lap. Chasing on his own was Colombian Fabio Castañeda Monsalve, and behind him, a chase group formed containing Schultz, his team mate Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Canadians Andrew Watson and Derek Zandstra, Catriel Soto (Argentina), Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica) and others. All these riders were within 40 seconds of the leaders.
Missing from this group was Plaxton, who had crashed into a fallen rider on the start loop, dropping back to the mid-teens. His chase would see him leapfrogging from group to group as he worked his way back into contention. As Monsalve faded, his countryman Luis Anderson Mejia Sanchez moved into third, while the Watson-Zandstra-Schultz group was gradually shedding riders due to the pace and increasing heat.
The front pair were set, although Wells received a bit of a scare mid-race when a crash dropped him back 15 seconds on Valeriano. The Specialized pro quickly caught up, and then attacked late in the third lap to open a gap. His lead rapidly grew to 40 seconds, and then steadied for the remainder of the race.
"I've come into the start of the season before with good form, and then had mechanicals or crashes, and gotten thirds, fourths and fifths, so it was really good to get the 'W'," said Wells.
"That Brazilian guy was riding really well, and I tried a bunch of times to attack him and get a gap, but I couldn't drop him. Then I had a little crash on an off cambre section, and after I got back up, I attacked on a flatter section and finally got away. To get this win, and in Fontana a couple of weeks ago, is a great start to the season."
Behind, Plaxton had caught and dropped all the chasers but Sanchez, and he finally caught the Colombian in the last lap, taking the lead on the final technical descent to win the bronze medal.
Unfortunately for Plaxton, he was about to receive his second setback of the race, when the Colombian team protested, claiming that the Canadian had shoved their rider to take the lead before the final descent. Plaxton countered that the Colombian tried to squeeze him into the bushes, and that he had put his arm out to stop being pushed off the course.
Both riders met with chief commissaire Josée Bedard to provide their sides of the story - there were no corroborating witnesses to support either version. That is, until the Colombians claimed that the official in the feed zone down the hill behind the incident saw what happened, and would support their version.
The said official, when brought into the fray, immediately recanted, stating that he had not seen anything, and that the Colombians had told him what to say... The Colombians then backpedalled away from the situation and Plaxton kept third.
Just another day of racing in Latin America...
Plaxton just shook his head about the incident. "I've raced a bunch of Pan Ams now, and there's always something going on. When I went down at the start, I basically t-boned a guy in front of me and went over the bars, twisting my shifters all around," he explained.
"I was pretty far back, but I just rode a steady race and got back up there, which proves that I was strong enough. Then he started squeezing me into the bushes and I had nowhere to go, so I had to take my hand off the bars and push him back. I was getting a little worried about how long [the protest] was taking, but it all worked out."
In the five lap Under-23 race, two Brazilian riders rode off the front on the first lap and stayed away all race, with Sherman Paiva taking the victory ahead of Henrique Avancini. American Rob Squire took the bronze medal after a consistent ride.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Todd Wells (United States of America)|
|2||Rubens Valeriano (Brazil)|
|3||Max Plaxton (Canada)|
|4||Luís Anderson Mejía Sánchez (Colombia)|
|5||Andrew Watson (Canada)|
|6||Sam Schultz (United States of America)|
|7||Derek Zandstra (Canada)|
|8||Catriel Soto (Argentina)|
|9||Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica)|
|10||Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (United States of America)|
|11||Edivando Cruz (Brazil)|
|12||Rapheal Gangne (Canada)|
|13||Manuel Prado (Costa Rica)|
|14||Fabio Castañeda Monsalve (Colombia)|
|15||Cristobal Silva (Chile)|
|16||Michael Broderick (United States of America)|
|17||Gonzalo Aravena (Chile)|
|18||Federico Ramirez (Costa Rica)|
|19||Manuel Oseas Rodas Ochoa (Guatemala)|
|20||Ali Castillo (Venezuela)|
|21||Ricardo Pscheidt (Brazil)|
|22||Héctor Fernando Riveros Páez (Colombia)|
|23||Javier Puschel (Chile)|
|24||Santiago Padilla (Ecuador)|
|25||Antonio Guzmán (Venezuela)|
|26||Juan Carlos Hernandez (Mexico)|
|27||Octavio Vicente Chetto (Mexico)|
|28||Emmanuel Valencia G. (Mexico)|
|29||Jesús Rojas (Venezuela)|
|30||Dario Gasco (Argentina)|
|31||Eudaldo Asencio Rosario (Puerto Rico)|
|32||Kelvin Gonzalez Ramirez (Puerto Rico)|
|33||Charlie Crueisi Quiñonez (El Salvador)|
|34||Sedly Rivas (Mexico)|
|35||Rene David Cazun M. (El Salvador)|
|36||Maximiliano Franzoi (Argentina)|
|37||Heiner Gautmier Morales (Guatemala)|
|38||Antonio Venutollo (Guatemala)|
|39||Charles Venutolo (Guatemala)|
|40||Julio Alberto Herrera (Guatemala)|
|41||Alberto Carlo Velazquez (Puerto Rico)|
|42||José Gonzalez (Puerto Rico)|
|43||Javier López (Puerto Rico)|
|44||Francisco Buch (Guatemala)|
|45||Carlos Pool (Guatemala)|
|46||Augusto Castillo (Guatemala)|
|47||Luis O. Nieto (Puerto Rico)|
|48||William Vega Cordero (Puerto Rico)|
|49||Johnny Javier Mairena Zelaya (Honduras)|
|50||Christian J. Ortiz (Puerto Rico)|
|51||Ronny Castillo (Guatemala)|
|52||Rojer Vanegas (Nicaragua)|
|53||Marco Arocha (Puerto Rico)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Sherman Paiva (Brazil)|
|2||Henrique Avancini (Brazil)|
|3||Rob Squire (United States of America)|
|4||Rodrigo Darnay (Argentina)|
|5||Rafael Escarcega Salazar (Mexico)|
|6||Holman Camilo Vanegas (Colombia)|
|7||Stephen Ettinger (United States of America)|
|8||Dennis Porras (Costa Rica)|
|9||Russell Finsterwald (United States of America)|
|10||Rodrigo Altamirano (Argentina)|
|11||Misael Vega (Mexico)|
|12||Cody Canning (Canada)|
|13||Ricardo Hazbun (Chile)|
|14||Francisco Gaitán (Guatemala)|
|15||Mauricio Foronda Guzmán (Colombia)|
|16||Xavier Ureña (Costa Rica)|
|17||Washington Vargas (Ecuador)|
|18||Juan Fallas (Costa Rica)|
|19||Sebastian Roman (Chile)|
|20||David Coveña (Ecuador)|
|21||Jose Ilson Pereira JR. (Brazil)|
|22||Josue Vazquez Plaza (Puerto Rico)|
|23||Marlon Goel López Mejía (Honduras)|
|24||Diyer Alexander Rincón Gómez (Colombia)|
|25||Teodoro Santamaria (El Salvador)|
|26||Zachary Hughes (Canada)|
|27||Jose Pedro Martel (Guatemala)|
|28||Jordan De Leon (Guatemala)|
|29||Miguel Valle (Guatemala)|
|30||Carlos Fuentes Peraza (El Salvador)|
|31||Cesar Reyes (Guatemala)|
|32||Jose Alejandro Ruiz (Guatemala)|
|33||Jaime Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)|
|34||Mateo Muñoz (Ecuador)|
Latest on Cyclingnews
Morton and Docker shave their heads for bushfire relief at Tour Down Under'This is the new look' says Docker after losing mullet and moustache
Laurens ten Dam looking for adventure at Low Gap Grasshopper'I’m going to get my ass kicked this weekend' says Dutchman of 2020 gravel debut
Tour Down Under stage 4 race highlights – VideoWatch as Ewan gets the better of Bennett in Murray Bridge
Procycling's February 2020 issue out nowExclusive interview with Annemiek van Vleuten and a season preview booklet