Gaze wins Whiskey Off Road Fat Tire Criterium

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.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Sam Gaze (Nzl) Specialized
2Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI
3Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specialized
4Menso De Jong (USA) Clif Bar- Niner Bikes- SRAM mtb
5Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI
6Cole Oberman (USA) Specialized- DNA Cycling
7Howard Grotts (USA) Specialized
8Todd Wells (USA) Specialized- Clifbar- Oakley
9Benjamin Sonntag (USA) Clif Bar- Niner Bikes- SRAM
10Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Bicycles- Shimano- Fox- Stages Cycling
11Brian Matter (USA) KS Energy- MOSH- Trek
12Fernando Riveros Paez (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Shimano
13Marc-antoine Nadon (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI
14Barry Wicks (USA) Kona Bikes- Shimano- Fox
15Justin Lindine (USA) Vittoria Tires- Yeti Bikes
16Joao Paulo Pereira (USA) Scott Brasil- Assc Batatais-
17Tom Sampson (USA) Vittoria/Yeti/POC
18Carl Decker (USA) Giant Bicycles- SRAM- Schwalbe
19Antoine Caron (Can) Pivot Cycles- ENVE- OTE
20Kerry Werner (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Shimano
21Payson Mcelveen (USA) Vittoria Tires- Yeti Bikes
22Keegan Swenson (USA) Sho-Air- Cannondale- Kenda
23Kris Sneddon (USA) Kona- Logging- Mom and Dad
24Tristan Uhl (USA) Vittoria Tires- Yeti Bikes
25Marc-andré Daigle (Can) Louis Garneau Sport / Quebecor
26Kyle Trudeau (USA) AZ Devo-
27Brandon Mills (USA) Moment Bikes- Braveheart Racing
28Levi Kurlander (USA) Trek Bicycles / Ska Brewing / Zia Taqueria
29Greg Krieger (USA)
30Henry Svendblad (USA) Nationwide- Trek- Flat Tire Bike Shop
31Steven Beeler (USA) Area 51 / Oro Valley Bicycle
32Alexandre Mantovani (USA) MARCEH Intl.- Borelli- Assc. do Ribeirao Preto.
33Chris Jackson (USA) Castex Rentals- Enve Composites- Sierra Pacific Farms
34Lance Haidet (USA) Raleigh Clement Shimano
35Peter Kalmes (USA) Sonoran Cycles
36Adam Gaubert (USA)
37Jamey Driscoll (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Full Speed Ahead
38Ernie Watenpaugh (USA) Jack Daniels- Telluride Venture Accelerator- BMC Bikes
39Chris Baddick (USA) Boulder Cycle Sport- Yogaglo
40Tyler Gauthier (USA) Gauthier Insurance- Quick Stop Bike Shop
41Tj Woodruff (USA) Pivot- Stans NoTubes- Momentum Endurance
42Kenny Wehn (USA)
43Caleb Thompson (USA) CRC Janitorial- Cannondale- Smith Optics
44Stephan Davoust (USA) Giant Co-Factory
45Adam Looney (USA) Peak Cycles
46Bryan Alders (USA) TrainingPeaks- Yeti- Pactimo
47Howard Grotts (USA) Specialized
48Ryan Petry (USA) Tri-Scottsdale- Endurance Conspiracy
49Patrick Chartrand (Can) Powerwatts Nord- Zibo Restaurants- Cycles Lambert
50Cameron Jette (Can) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI
51Mark Flis (USA) Squadra Clothing- Spy Optics
52Dana Weber (USA) Stage 21- CytoSport
53Matthew Turner (USA) Summit-Competitive Cyclist- Pivot
54Kurt Refsnider (USA) Salsa Cycles- Prescott College
55Michael R Sampson (USA) Competitive Cyclist- Summit Bike Club- Pivot Cycles
56Jonathan Sundt (USA) Giant
57Hunter Keating (USA) Harmony Systems Pro Cycling
58Jesse Kelly (USA)
59Raul Cancado (USA) MARCEH Intl.- Assoc ciclismo Dourados-
60Jason Hilimire (USA) FasCat Coaching-Geneva Bicycle Center
61Ricky Willis (USA) Paragon/bootdoctors - Telluride cycling club
62Mark Feeney (USA) Trigger Point- Road ID- Dirty Dog Eyewear
63Greg Gibson (USA)
64Kristofer Ochs (USA) Tokyo Joes- POC- Scott
65Sam Chovan (USA) Honey Stinger- Bontrager- Trek
66Ian Wilkey (USA) AZ Devo- Trek Bikes- Cadence Promotions
67Nick Thomas (USA) Arizona Devo- Trek/Bicycle Ranch- Cadence Promotions
68Tim Racette (USA) McDowell Mountain Cycles- Mikes Mix Recovery Drink- Schwalbe Tires
69Corey Stelljes (USA) Cannondale- SRAM- Motorless Motion Bicycles
70Thomas Gauthier (Can) Pivot- enve- OTE
71Nick Truitt (USA) Breck Bike Guides- Shimano- Naturally Fast
72Nick Skaggs (USA) Nationwide Insurance- Trek Bicycle- Flat Tire Bike Shop
73Dax Massey (USA) Planet Foods/Peak Nutrients- Light & Motion- Stans NoTubes
74Nathan Miller (USA) ENVE Composites- Drunkcyclist- TWC
75John Nobil (USA) bear valley bikes specialized team ninja
DNFJason Hanson (USA) Bicycle Experience- Rotor Components- Old Lady
DNFReusable Reusable (USA) Validation Matters- GPE Racing- Athlete Octane
DNFJakub Valigura (USA) 92Fifty/Eleveted Legs- Ergon- Smith Optics
DNFJonathon Firth (Can) Honey stinger-Smithoptics-planet foods
DNFAdam Morka (Can) Trek Canada
DNFDave Harrison (USA) Club Ride- Borealis- Orbea
DNFMichael Muhlestein (USA) ENVE- Bikers Edge- Destination Homes
DNFNick Fisher (USA) Enve- Destination Homes- Togs
Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Chloe Woodruff (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Niner Bikes- Clif Bar
2Georgia Gould (USA) Luna- Orbea- Fox
3Maghalie Rochette (Can) Luna- Orbea- Fox
4Katerina Nash (USA) Luna- Orbea- Fox
5Larissa Connors (USA) Sho Air Cyclery- Cannondale- Enve Composites
6Rose Grant (USA) Stans
7Evelyn Dong (USA) Sho air/cannondale- crank brothers- smith optics
8Serena Bishop Gordon (USA) LIV|Giant CLIF Bar- Julbo
9Beisel Amy (USA) Liv Cycling- SRAM- Osmo Nutrition
10Caroline Mani (USA) Raleigh- Clement- Shimano
11Mical Dyck (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Cannondale- Kenda
12Erin Alders (USA) Ride Biker Alliance- Ol Republic Brewery- Sho-Air
13Megan Chinburg (USA) Liv Cycling- Sellwood Cycles-
14Heidi Rentz (USA) Ibis- The Cycling House- GU Energy
15Kata Skaggs (USA) Adventure Bike Company- Fast Forward Chiropractic
16Liz Carrington (USA) CRC-Janitorial (Durango- CO)- Hassle Free Sports (Durango- CO) Mavic
17Emily Shields (USA) Stan's NoTubes
18Evelyn Racette (USA) Mike's Mix Recovery Drink
19Jennifer Smith (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Cannondale Bicycles- Griggs Orthopedics Performance
20Nina Baum (USA) Stan's NoTubes- Cannondale- Kenda
DNSMindy Mulliken (USA) Cogma- Mountain Peak Nutrients- Honey Stinger
DNSErin Huck (USA) Scott- Shimano- CRCS DKI
DNSAbbey Alexiades (USA) Liv Cycle- Giant- SRAM


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