TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors wins 9 podium spots in 4 Races over 3 Weekends

June 22nd, 2015 by Marie Dershem

With 3 time trials in 3 weekends, plus the State Championship Road Race, it has been an exciting couple of weeks for the cycling community. For a quick overview, here are the TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors podium finishes for all of the races…  but there is so much more to the story – so read on!

Sodus Time Trial
3rd place in Masters 45+: Chris Abston
2nd place in Mens Pro ½: Cory Stange

Tour de Mont Pleasant Time Trial:
1st place Women’s CAT 1/2/3: Marie Dershem
1st place Junior 17-18: Nathaniel Frazier

Michigan State ChampionshipTour de Mont Pleasant Road Race:
2nd place Women’s PRO CAT 1/2: Marie Dershem
1st place Women’s CAT 4: Jenny Steketee

State Game of Michigan Time Trial:
1st place Men’s PRO 1/2: Cory Stange
1st place Women’s PRO 1/2: Marie Dershem
2nd place Men’s Masters 45+: Chris Abston

Now, to quote Paul Harvey (from the famed radio show)… and now… “the rest of the story:”

Sodus Cory and ChrisThe first full weekend in June offered cyclists the Sodus Time Trial, which is some kind of flat. With only 160 feet of elevation gain, gained by 4 trips over the highway overpass, only the 6 turns can slow you down. It is a great course to push yourself to your limits, as time trials always do. Lorren Simons, Cory Stange, Chris Abston and Nathaniel Frazier tested their limits, with 2 of them landing on the podium.

The following weekend, Mount Pleasant, Michigan showed their hospitality in welcoming the Tour de Mont Pleasant Time Trial on Friday evening, followed by the State Championship Road Race on Saturday morning. The town was buzzing with cyclists starting to roll in Friday afternoon for the very short, very fun 2 miles time trial. Marie Mt pleasant TTThe course was completely closed to traffic and had 4 corners, all right turns. With the boost of rolling off a starting ramp, the race was fast and furious. With a time trial this distance, you start with a sprint and hold on for dear life as you pedal as hard as you can for 3 miles. TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors were able to take 2 podium spots for that 2 mile race.

Then, Saturday morning, the State Championship Road Race began. The PRO 1/2 Men rolled out first with 109 miles of racing ahead of them. They were followed closely by the PRO 1/2 Women, who tackled 86 miles of racing. The rest of the racers all followed the same course of 53 miles, except the Junior racers, who raced 29 miles.

The PRO 1/2 Men’s race was stacked with the best racers in the region. Not only this, but they had 2 mid-race sprints and 2 KOM competitions thrown into the mix. The morning was cool and misty with some wind to challenge those sitting at the front of the pack. The race was on right from the first mile. During the 109 miles, the race split into three distinct groups, with TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors, Alex Vanias in the front group. But, covering this much ground, the group came back together for an exciting finish. Five of the six TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors racers finished in the top half of the group, ranging from 14th to 24th.

mt pleasant women 1_2The PRO 1/2 Women’s race also offered a long, hard race with 1 mid-race sprint and 2 QOMs. With winds building throughout the race, the 86 miles took their toll on the racers. With a few splits in the group, the race came down to a 3 person sprint. Marie Dershem took 2nd overall and also won the QOM competition.

The CAT 3 women’s race was an exciting one with TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors teammate, JoAnn Cranson working her way into a break away of 8 women who held their ground throughout the race. With these 8 riders building up to the sprint, JoAnn landed 6th, but less than a second out of 1st. It was a tight sprint finish and a race well-done.

The CAT 4 Women’s race started off very cold and misty but it finally warmed up around the 10 mile mark. The group of 13 racers started right out in a pace line with everyone taking brief pulls. No attacks were attempted as it was evident that there wasn’t anyone who wanted to TT the 53 miles. The biggest hill on the course, though, offered an opportunity for Jenny Steketee of TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors. Jenny was in the front at the base of the hill and climbed at a strong tempo pace. After cresting the hill, she noted separation from the majority of the field. By the time she had descended, there were 5 racers in total in the first break away of the race. Upon realizing they were just ahead of the rest of the group, with a large gap, they quickly organized a relatively quick pace line, to separate from the rest of the field, with everyone doing equal work with short pulls until they were clear of the group. Jenny Steketee Mt PleasantOnce a safe gap was created, the group settled in to a more comfortable pace until about 10 miles to go. Again, the pace picked up and the fatigue of some riders was evident and soon the attacks began. Though many attempted to get away, the group stayed together and soon they faced a sprint finish. The five headed toward the line, eyeing one another, wondering who was going to jump first. With about 50 meters to go, a rider jumped… game on. Jenny jumped on her wheel, then came around her to sprint herself into the State Championship title.

The Men’s Masters 45+ race was another one that offered no rest for the weary. From the starting whistle, the attacks began. With multiple breaks and as many chases, the average speed for the 53 miles was over 25 mph. Finally, a break stuck. One Michigan rider worked with a Canadian rider and an Indiana rider to keep the gap wide and the field chasing. The Michigan rider could work with these two and, regardless of how he placed in the sprint, and still win the State Championship title because they were not in contention for it (as they weren’t from Michigan). This strategy worked well for him and they were able to stay away for the rest of the race. As always, TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors racers worked together with Mike and Terry working to chase and Rich and Chris saving their legs for the sprint finish if the break was caught. But, with the break not caught, the field was sprinting for 4th at best. With mid-pack finishes, the Men’s 45+ team worked well together and enjoyed a challenging race.

The Masters 55+ road race had a large field, with 5 TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors teammates joining in the fun. The field rolled out at a fairly leisurely pace for the first few miles but the attacks began about 6 miles in with Mark Cahn being the first to attempt a solo break. Mike Krywanski went to the front and with some help from other riders, neutralized that break. Next to attack was Haggerty’s Craig Webb along with two others but the combination was not cohesive and was quickly brought back. At about mile 16 Webb threw in a very strong surge and was immediately marked by perennial masters strongman, Bill Gilboe. The pair established a sizeable gap and with blocking in the chase group by other Haggerty riders, the field never organized a strong enough effort to bring them back. One must give credit to Webb and Gilboe, however, as they worked well together to break the spirit of the chase group and stayed together to the finish. The men from OAM NOW rode strongly in the field with Leonard VanDrunen doing much of the work at the front. In the end, their effort in the chase showed as the team was shut out of the podium spots by a very large and competitive field. Top finishers were Loren Simons in 11th and Steve Buccella finishing one spot behind.

Chris TTFinally, the morning of June 20, the Michigan State Games Time Trial started launching racers at 9:00a.m. With 4 TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors racers taking on the challenge, 3 landed on the podium.MARIE TTloren TT MARIE TTcory ttchris tt podium state games

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