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Gaimon and Armstrong master Glendora Mountain to win Stage 1 of the San Dimas Stage Race

March 17, 2012

Predicted rain showed up as fog and mist on Glendora Mountain yesterday, but an imaginary beam of sunshine shone on Phil Gaimon. The Kenda/5-Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder rider climbed into the race leader’s yellow jersey on stage 1 of the 2012 San Dimas Stage Race with a ride of 13 minutes 10 seconds.

Just a few hours earlier, Kristin Armstrong bested Clara Huges of Team Specialized Lululemon by 31 seconds to claim the race lead for her Exergy Twenty12 team.

Armstrong’s time of 15 minutes 1 second shaved eight seconds off Amber Neben’s winning time last year on a course some described as slightly more difficult due to moving the start line 1,100 feet up the mountain this year. Neither Neben nor Ben Day were present to defend their overall victories in last year’s edition of the race.

Matt Cooke of Team Exergy, who finished second behind Day on this stage in 2011, figured among the favorites going into today’s race. Cooke crossed the line 29 seconds behind Gaimon’s time, his mouth stretched open with effort, in what must have been a disappointing ride for the strong climber. Team Exergy fared well overall with Cooke placed fifth and Morgan Schmitt fourth for the stage.

Glendora Mountain Road (photo by nanotron, Flickr)

Racing uphill for 3.8 miles at a 6.5% average grade requires special pacing to release an athlete’s best performance. The equipment can be a factor as well. Almost all competitors choose road bikes for the time trial. Gaimon choose what one observer described as a deep dish front wheel and light rear wheel.

Gaimon’s preparation going into the SDSR included spins up Madera Canyon, Gate’s Pass, and Mount Lemmon near Tucson. He’s won other uphill races, notably the Mount Washington Hillclimb in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 he also carried away the best young rider classification at the SDSR as well of first place on stage 2. On his website Gaimon calls climbing and time trials his strengths; he also lists his resting heart rate as about 35 beats per minute.

The top step of the podium at this season’s time trials seems to have Armstrong’s name cemented on it like celebrity footsteps at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. A multiple national and world time trial champion and Olympic gold medalist, she recently won the time trials at the Tour of New Zealand and at the Merco Cycling Classic where she also finished first overall. In a statement on the Exergy Twenty12 blog, Armstrong said after the race, “Every time trial is important to me. It’s especially good to come away with the win. The competition is awesome this year and as always the San Dimas Stage Race is a wonderful event.”

Stage 2 test next

Both Armstrong and Gaimon face a tough day on stage 2. The seven mile lap with a KOM historically separates the strongest from the rest. Time bonuses for sprints and on the finish line will force Gaimon to be especially attentive with just a 14 second gap to second place Rob Britton on Competitive Cyclist. There’s rain in the forecast again for stage 2, which is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. for the pro-men and 10:10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time for the pro-women. Can Gaimon and Armstrong both keep the sunny yellow on their backs?

The women should challenge Exergy Twenty 12’s leadership with aggressive racing. According to Norcalcyclingnews.com, “Exergy are now the team to beat, sitting in prime position with 2 other riders also inside the top ten.  All the major teams are within striking distance, and things are sure to be shaken up on what is looking like being a wet and windy road race course. So buckle up and get ready for the thrills and spill of the road race.”

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From → Road Racing

3 Comments
  1. Jill Klein permalink

    “The top step of the podium at this season’s time trials seems to have Armstrong’s name cemented on it like celebrity footsteps at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.”

    I LOVE it!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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