Jacob Albrecht – photo by Lyne Lamoureux
The Tour of the Gila was a complete unknown for Jacob Albrecht. After years of racing the mountain bike circuit, 2015 is his first road racing season at a cat 1 level for the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized rider. The 20-year old racer from Santa Cruz, California, finished one of the toughest and hilliest races on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) in 62nd place overall (out of 150 starters).
“Each time I do one of these NRC races, it’s just a huge learning experience for me since I’m pretty new to the whole road racing thing so it feels good to finish it,” he said.
The Gila Monster delivered a final brutal day on the fifth stage of the Tour of the Gila today. The Queen Stage challenged racers with 9,131 feet of climbing, including five categorized climbs, over a 100-mile course. The young California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team learned how difficult this NRC stage race can be, especially against some of the top American professional squads getting ready for next week’s Tour of California.
Active early in the race, the Berries could not follow the later attacks up the third climb, the Cat 1 Anderson Vista climb, which dismantled the already reduced field.
The quest for the green sprint jersey continued this afternoon for the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized squad at the Tour of the Gila. Against some of the strongest teams in the country, the Berries rallied around Ansel Dickey to help him gain more points during stage 4, the 43-mile Downtown Silver City Criterium. Though he did garner intermediate sprint points, the heavily weighted points at the finish played against the Berries but they are not giving up. The team will focus their energies on the two remaining intermediate sprints in Sunday’s final stage.
“The team did a great job. The guys were committed to helping Ansel to secure the sprint jersey,” noted Director Sportif Ken Carpenter.
Stage 3, the Dan Potts Memorial Individual Time Trial at the Tour of the Gila was not a good day for the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team today. Efforts expanded in previous stages took a toll on the young Berries on the third day of racing at high altitude.
Today’s stage challenged with more elevation gain, a total 1,188 feet of climbing on the 16.15-mile out and back course. The racers had to climb Little Burro Pass twice, topping 6,394 feet with steeper gradients of seven percent on the return to the finish line.
Teamwork shined for the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team on the always tough Fort Bayard Inner Loop, stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila powered by SRAM today. With the help of his teammates, Ansel Dickey accomplished the team’s goal of grabbing more sprint points but unfortunately lost the sprint jersey – for now.
California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized riders at the start of stage 2
Spending the whole day in the break, Ansel Dickey outclimbed his rival up Mogollon to win the green sprint jersey after stage 1 of the Tour of the Gila powered by SRAM today. The California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized rider was tied for sprint points going into the very tough final 6.7-mile (10.8-km) climb to the finish at Mogollon.
Ansel Dickey wins green sprint jersey after stage 1 at the Tour of the Gila
The California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team announced the roster for the 29th annual Tour of the Gila, held in New Mexico, April 29 – May 3, 2015. Jacob Albrecht, Stefano Barberi, Ansel Dickey, Colin Joyce, Torey Philipp and Benjamin Wolfe hope to shine at the event which has become a proving ground for young racers.
Brendan Rhim sprinted to fourth place at the 35th annual Athens Twilight Criterium on Saturday night in Athens, Georgia. Racing solo, the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized rider lapped the field as part of the early break, racked up primes before finishing a very close fourth in front of a raucous crowd.
“It was insane. The crowds were so loud, there were people lining the course all the way around, probably four or five people deep on both sides of the homestretch. So many people. I think someone had a fog machine going on on turn three. Loud drunk college crowd so it was pretty fun,” Rhim said of the experience racing for the first time at one of the biggest criteriums in the United States.
Feeling good after the previous day’s road race, Tobin Ortenblad decided to enter to Sea Otter Cyclocross Race on Saturday April 18. A wise decision for the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized rider who solo’ed to the win in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the 25th anniversary of the “celebration of cycling”.
Tobin Ortenblad wins Sea Otter Cyclocross – photo by Lyne Lamoureux
Ansel Dickey took the uphill field sprint to finish seventh in the Sea Otter Classic Road Race on Friday, April 17. Dickey only had one California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized teammate, Tobin Ortenblad, to work with in the hilly 69-mile race. Facing five teams with much bigger numbers, from five to seven riders, in the 67-rider field, the duo had to adjust their tactics.
Ansel Dickey after crossing the line in seventh place – photo by Lyne Lamoureux