Monday, March 31, 2008

Sevilla Edged Out On San Dimas Final Stage.

San Dimas, Calif. — Rock Racing’s Oscar Sevilla came up an excruciating one second short of victory Sunday at the San Dimas Stage Race.

Sevilla and his Rock Racing teammates lost a hard-fought battle during the final stage in a race that was the closest finish in the nine-year history of the event.

Canadian Cameron Evans (Symmetrics Cycling Team) emerged from a two-man breakaway during the 90-minute Cannondale Incycle Old Town Classic Criterium to earn enough bonus time in mid-race sprints and at the finish line to climb from 11th place to first overall.

“It was a little bit of a miscalculation on our part,” Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball said. “We will re-adjust things next week at the Redlands Classic and come out on the top like we intended to today.”

Rock Racing impressively defended Sevilla’s yellow jersey during the San Dimas Hospital Road Race Saturday and rode hard on the front during much of Sunday’s race around the six-corner course. But in the end, it came down to a single second separating Sevilla and Evans after nearly five hours of racing over three days.

“I probably should have taken a little more responsibility toward the end,” an obviously disappointed Sevilla said. “Maybe I could have gone to the front with four or five laps to go to help do a little bit more in chasing. But it was so aggressive in the last couple of laps that there really was no organization.”

Sevilla came into the final stage with an eight-second cushion over Peter Stetina (VMG-Felt-RMG) and 19 seconds over Ben Day (Toyota-United Pro Cycling). But time bonuses of 10, six and three seconds were available to the first three sprinters at the 30 and 60-minute marks of the criterium.

Sevilla earned three bonus seconds with a third-place finish on the first bonus sprint – which was won by Toyota-United’s Day. But immediately after the sprint, Evans launched an attack to initiate the decisive breakaway that included Amaran and Chris Jones (Team Type 1).

The leading trio eventually gained a 25-second lead that grew to more than a minute with less than 30 minutes of racing remaining. At that point, Rock Racing initiated a full-throttle chase to bring back what was now two escapees, with Team Type 1’s Jones having been dropped after the second bonus sprint.

Despite a valiant effort, the gap between the breakaway and the field didn’t come down dramatically until the waning laps, when teams other than Rock Racing began eyeing a chance at winning the field sprint.

Sevilla, who was racing this weekend in the United States for the first time, now joins Rock Racing teammates Santiago Botero, David Clinger, Michael Creed, Tyler Hamilton, Kayle Leogrande, Victor Hugo Peña and Fred Rodriguez in the first National Race Calendar event of the season. The 24th Annual Redlands Classic begins Thursday in Redlands, Calif.

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