What's Cool In Road Cycling

Episode 7: Snelling

We join our hero, Rusty Beall of Team Health Net, sneezing after a good show at Snelling. Rusty confirms Trent’s (Klasna) hamstring is better after he experienced some back problems earlier. Will Rus be ready for next week’s Pomona stage race? What awaits in this week’s Gutter?

Here I am confined to the inside of the house, looking out the window at the blue sky, cringing every time I have to swallow, and listening to my nose whistle with each breath. I guess it is bound to happen sometime during the season and now is better than at Redlands or Sea Otter or Philly, but I am sick and I feel like shit. My roommate left long ago on what would have been a fun (and turned out to be an epic ride) with our usual Wednesday group in Auburn, and I’m stuck in the kitchen drinking Echinacea tea, chewing on powdered vitamin C tablets, sucking on zinc, and watching episode 405 of Seinfeld, —the one where Elaine sends out a Christmas card with her breast exposed— trying in vain to fall asleep.

Thankfully this last weekend was a different story; I felt fine and wasn’t making what my roommate has coined “old man noises” every time I move. On Saturday we headed out to Snelling for a race that I usually associate with rain and wind so strong that person-thick trees cracking and falling along the road are commonplace. This year was a different story, the sun was out and the wind was there, but not as destructive as it could have been. Snelling takes place on an 11-mile loop through rolling green hills among almond trees white with blooms, and made difficult by the infamous crosswinds. It starts hard and aggressively from the gun and is a road race that you have to ride like a crit.

This year was no exception and attacks went right from the start, but it wasn’t until about halfway though the second lap that the first major breakaway went. Chris Horner of Saturn (fresh off the boat from ten days of racing in Malaysia) attacked and was covered by Mike Sayers of Health Net. These guys would end up staying off the front for the next fifty-miles and would have a gap of just over four minutes at one point, but Alto Velo and Sierra Nevada would end up bringing them back. With one lap to go Eric Wohlberg, also of Saturn, attacked and dropped every one of his breakaway companions. It was in this last lap that it became painfully evident to me why he is one of the most well respected guys racing domestically as we rotated four guys on the front trying to bring him back. When we finally caught Eric, Trent Klasna of Saturn attacked and took Chris McGovern of Health Net and Nate Faulkner with him. These three would take it all the way to the line, with Trent taking the win, Nate getting second, and McGovern third. It was good for Trent; I know he has had some problems with his leg, so it was nice to see him win.

The next day in the Merced crit we got some more much needed leadout practice for our days to come with Gord. Early on, eleven guys got away (including two from Health Net, two from Saturn, and two from Sierra Nevada) and lapped the pack. Mike Sayers was our guy —since he was our best sprinter in the group— and we did our best to take him right to the line, with our Belarusian Alex Koslov dropping Mike off on the final straightaway for the sprint. But Sterling Magnell ended up besting both Mike and Eric Wohlberg to take the race with a final bike throw to the line.

We have this weekend off…and thankfully so; I plan on resting up for the races to come. A week from today we will do our first NRC event down at the Pomona Stage Race, in what will be our first real big test. I’ll be sure to let you all know how things are going, until then… wash your hands and don’t rub your eyes!

-Rusty Beall-
Health Net Cycling Team

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