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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Steve Fisher shows off the MVP belt.

Steve Fisher shows off the MVP belt.

Six Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis riders traveled to Minneapolis for the North Star Bicycle Fest last week. This was my first trip to Minnesota and it did not disappoint. We enjoyed great weather for most of the week and awesome fans at every stage.

Things started off with a short road bike only time trial on Wednesday morning. We put our Fast Freddie Apparel skinsuits to good use and hammered out the 5 miles along the Mississippi River. Jonathan was our top finisher and in the hunt for the best young rider jersey.

Wednesday evening’s criterium in St. Paul featured a tight course with lots of spectators. The cornering clearance provided by our Speedplay pedals allowed us to stay smooth and on the gas throughout the course.

On Thursday we headed to Cannon Falls for a 95 mile road race. Wind was blowing hard and the race was on from the gun despite a short gravel section. I managed to get away and win the first KOH sprint, but I was back in the pack shortly after. The wind wasn’t letting up and the peloton was shredded in the crosswinds shortly after. We had four Jelly Belly riders in the second group that dangled one minute back from the leaders for most of the day. The strong winds and strong riders ahead proved to be stronger than us today, but plenty of opportunities for us remained.

We started Friday’s criterium determined to ride as a team, and we got together at the front of the race almost immediately. Optum took control of the race and let a five-rider breakaway go up the road while we sat behind them waiting for our opportunity in the final sprint. Unfortunately the breakaway stuck until the end, but we still wanted to give Sean the best possible opportunity in the field sprint. I took the front for the final lap with Freddie and Sean in tow. Freddie and I lit up the last lap to deliver Sean to 7th.

Saturday’s Menomonie road race was 101 miles long and featured several steep KOH climbs. Attacks started right from the gun, but it was one of those days where it seemed like everyone wanted to be in the breakaway. When the break did finally go Freddie made it and they worked well together to establish a 4 minute lead. With around 30 miles left to race the rain started coming down hard and Freddie’s break looked like it had a good chance of making it to the line. Freddie and his comrades reached the finishing circuits with 3 minutes in hand still and fought it out for win. Freddie finished 4th.

The final stage took us to Stillwater for a criterium that would feature 23 laps up the infamous Chilkoot hill. The hill may be short, but it is incredibly steep and whittled the field down with each lap. I stayed near the front up the climb every lap and I was feeling great each time up. I ended up a little farther back than I would have liked during the final lap, but I passed as many riders as I could in the last sprint up the hill, earning 6th place on the stage and moving up to 23rd overall.

I was happy to close out the week with another top 10 result for the team. I was also awarded our Most Valuable Rider belt, which is a new tradition that we have started at Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis.

Special thanks this week to Nick, Ahme, Tom and Stacy for hosting us. Also thanks to Bobby for keeping our bikes working well all week.



Kirk Carlsen bears down during the time trial.

Kirk Carlsen bears down during the time trial.

Stage 1

The opening stage of Tour de Beauce was a 196 kilometer, four lap circuit race. Our plan was to watch the breakaways and try to avoid blowing too many matches before the finish. Since many of the riders are not used to riding nearly 200 kilometer races, we relied on our experience and knew that we would be able to withstand the distance and make a big difference during the last 50
kilometers of the race.

We were very patient, almost too patient in the opening kilometers. A group of 5 riders immediately got away. This was a perfect situation for us, as a 5 rider breakaway is easily brought back before the finish, in most cases. However, when 3 more riders bridged across, and another 2 attempted, we knew that it was going to be even more difficult to save our big efforts for later.

The breakaway, at one point, had gained nearly 12 minutes, and we were all a bit worried that the race for GC was over. However, once we started rolling with Ian on the front, the gap immediately started to come down.

Going into the last lap, other teams really started to contribute to the chase. This is when our team really tried to set up Jacob for the uphill sprint. Matty Lloyd rolled on the front to allow us to keep in good position toward the front, and Serghei and I tried to stay with Jacob to protect him from the wind. The lead-up to the sprint got a bit unorganized and was slow, allowing for a lot of “swarming” at the front of the bunch. Guys were flying left, right and center to try and hit the last 500 meters in good position.

Jacob managed to get 11th on the sprint. We were all happy to be able to finish the day knowing that our chances would only get better as the stage race went on.

Stage 2

We started off in the rain on the “Queen” stage that went from Lac-Megantic to the top of Mont Megantic and was 167 kilometers long. When you start a stage in the rain and cold you know that it is going to be a long and hard stage, mentally and physically.

The race started off with a blistering fast “neutral” section, where I basically got dropped doing 500 watts on the wheels. When they raised the green flag for us to start racing, Jacob was able to get into the breakaway of the day.

The stage was rolling with some steep pitched climbs and a lot of wind and rain. In preparation for the mountain top finish, Serghei, Matt and I tried our best to save our legs. Unfortunately for Matt and I, the cold and rain took its toll as we were shivering all day and wasted a lot of energy try to keep warm and dry.

When we hit the climb, all but three riders from the breakaway remained. The group shattered right away on the steep grades, however, a strong headwind kept a group of 20 together. In the last kilometer, it was mostly all together, but with a 20 percent grade the selection happened and the group splintered into pieces. The time gaps were minimal though, and Serghei managed to finish 5th. I was 15th. This put us all in great position going into the time trial.

Stage 3

The weather and course conditions made for an interesting race against the clock on stage 3. The 20 kilometer out-and-back time trial, which had a left hand corner with no barriers separating starting riders from finishing riders was made even more dangerous by the terrible road conditions and rain. For Serghei and I, we knew in order to maintain good position in the General Classification, we had to do a good time trial.

For me, the time trial was very difficult due to the bumpy roads. It seemed like every time I got a good rhythm going, I would hit a pothole or have to avoid one and be thrown off my game plan of keeping the power steady. All in all though, it was a good day for us, as Serghei finished second and I was tenth on the stage and we were both sitting in the top 10 of the overall classification.

Stage 4

Quebec City is a beautiful place, and one of my favorite stages. Having said that, I’m sure most of the riders, including me, had a miserable time trying to manage slick roads and weather conditions. The circuit race was filled with very dangerous corners, road “furniture,” and orange cones separating on coming traffic from the race. The hazardous conditions, and 1.5 kilometer climb each
lap made for an epic race.

Coming into the finish, I was able to lead into the bottom of the climb and most of the way up it with Serghei on my wheel to help him go for the stage win. Coming up to the last 500 meters, Serghei and I were both toward the front and he was able to manage sixth on the stage. We stayed safe and did not lose any time on the GC.

Stage 5

This final stage was a difficult circuit with a finishing climb that we had to ride up 13 times! Right from the start, the race was full throttle. The break got established and there were constant attacks on the climb which made the race even more challenging to control.

With 5 laps remaining, the break started to come back and we knew that the race would explode when the peleton caught made contact. Just as the break was reeled in, the peleton shattered on the climb up to the finish and only 20 guys remained at the head of the race. I knew, in order to set Serghei up for a chance of winning, we had to isolate the leader and make him work and tire before the finish. This left Serghei in good position to attack.

Going into the last 4 laps, I attacked, and looked back. The yellow jersey was on my wheel! Well, this was an interesting predicament. So, I decided it would be best to ease off on the pedals, and make him do the majority of the work on the front, since Serghei was close to him on GC. I could make him as tired as possible, and by the time we were caught, Serghei could attack. However, it seemed as though Serghei’s earlier crash had taken its toll and 7 other riders were able to cross the gap to me and the race leader.

Since Serghei was high on the GC, I was able to sit on the other riders and save my legs until the final sprint. Unfortunately, I was not having a very good day either, and did not have a lot left in the end to get the stage win. Although I was extremely disappointed in myself, Serghei and I both finished in the top five overall in 3rd and 5th.

It was a great team effort and without the staff and other team members, these results would not have been possible.


He was banged up but not beaten down.

Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis rider Serghei Tvetcov finished third overall in the Tour de Beauce. A crash left him a little ragged, but consistently strong riding and support from his teammates put him on the podium in Quebec.


Tvetcov grinds it out on Stage 5.



Battle scars.

Battle scars.


Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis team director Danny Van Haute talks about the wild ride following his guys down the road during a race.

While this was the first time that the Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay included pro teams and a UCI 2.2 statu,s it was far from the event’s first edition. Originally a Nations Cup espoir race, the experience in the organization was evident in the flawless execution of the event and a rock-solid group of volunteers and staff.

Serghei Tvetcov leads the pack.

Serghei Tvetcov leads the pack.

This was the first time in as long as I can recall that Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis has travelled to Quebec for a double-up on UCI races. We are extremely happy to be racing in the homeland of our bike sponsor, Argon 18. The bikes responded very well to the steep pitches of the circuit races in Saguenay with the lightweight frameset giving our guys a chance to be very aggressive.

While our numbers waned when we lost two riders on the first day due to sickness, the remaining guys never missed a break and were very actively pushing the pace. Impressive riding by Kirk, Serghei, Ian and Jacob kept everyone on the edge of their seat while each one of those guys took turns rolling breaks as the “virtual leader on the road.” The 3T Mercurio wheels were an advantage for us in dealing with the rough Quebec roads, which are battle-worn from harsh winters. To the same extent I think we are the only team to not lose any water bottles due to road conditions, so a big thank you shout out to Arundel for the best cages on the market as well as comfortable bar tape to limit the jarring effects of the roads.

Ian Burnett gets some reinforcement from the team car.

Ian Burnett gets reinforcement from the team car.

At the end of every stage the bunch was more or less in tact, despite massive efforts and high average speeds recorded on the Cateye Stealth computers. At the end of the day the top 20 were all within 20 seconds, a race decided by intermediate and stage time bonuses; there was no room for error and thankfully Maxxis tires are especially resilient and light-weight as we had no flats.

While the results don’t necessarily show the strength of the team assembled for the Quebec UCI races, the competition and spectators know we brought a top-quality team. We are extra hungry to showcase that strength, and the upcoming Tour de Beauce, part two of the Quebec combo, will be the perfect platform with more difficult courses and time trial as well.

Stay tuned for more updates from Canada and pictures of the best-looking squad around with our brand new customized Bonts, coveted Defeet socks, and Fast Freddie clothing.


Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis rider Jacob Rathe takes the podium for winning Best Young Rider at the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic.