March 30, 2012 on 6:00 am | In Sponsorship, TriSports.com/Eclipse Racing | No Comments
By Brian Ellis
On Saturday, March 16 the TriSports Cycling/Eclipse Racing team lined up in Tucson’s biggest cycling race of the season, the Old Pueblo Grand Prix. Expectations were high as the team was still enjoying their recent successes in Murrieta, Avondale and Tucson Bicycle Classic. With nearly a full squad including Brian Ellis, Andre McNulty, Justin Orkney, Ben Lair, David Welsh, Shawn Daly and, making his first Cat 2 start, Christian Maldonado, the plan was to stay at the front and ride aggressively.
The pace was fast right from the gun and within the first few laps, gaps in the field opened and riders were shelled off the back. Things settled down about 5 laps in and Brian took the opportunity and flew up the right side to launch an attack. A group of 4 slowly but surely pulled away from the field. The group of 4 grew to 6 with riders from the teams of TriSports Cycling, Jetset Racing, Green Team, Tachycardia and Tolero (and one unattached rider).
Content with their representation in the break, the TriSports team sat up and left the chase efforts to the rest of the field. Meanwhile, up in the break, Brian and his companions drove the pace and increased their gap on the peloton. As the lead grew to 30 seconds, Justin Orkney made a valiant attempt to bridge up to the lead group. Just as he was within ~25 meters of making contact with the leaders, he overcooked a turn and went down. Not to be deterred, he got up, dusted himself off and continued racing.
The lead group continued to push the pace and further increased their gap to the main field. After nearly 45 minutes of riding off-the-front, the leaders had the tail end of the peloton in sight. The field would be lapped!
With 5 laps to go, the field was lapped and things got messy. A handful of the breakaway riders were content to sit on the back and take their top 6 placing but the rider from Green Team quickly made his way to the front of the pack. Brian was in hot pursuit and the rest of the TriSports team did what they could to position him near the front. Amidst the confusion, the Green Team rider sprinted a lap early and thought he had the win but in reality, there was still one lap to go. The final lap was fast and the field was strung out.
Andre led Brian out of the last turn but a long day in the break had taken the toll on his legs. Brian gave it his best but the finish line was just a tad too far and he was passed by the rider from Jetset Racing who took the win. No one else from the break was able to come around Brian though and he held on to 2nd place overall.
Justin Orkney gets the Spirit Award for this race. Despite crashing early on, he continued to race and even made a second attempt to bridge up to the leaders! Unfortunately he never made contact with the lead group, but his efforts would net him 7th place on the day! Andre would finish in 9th overall and Ben, David and Christian rounded out the top 15 with 12th, 14th and 15th respectively. All in all, a great day for the TriSports Cycling/Eclipse Racing team!