Rivalries develop 

Bacardi-NUVO wins first race of the season

Aaron Hubbell
Bacardi-NUVO wins first race of the season Aaron Hubbell Bennet Vandergenugten of Bacardi-NUVO bested a field of 60 in last Saturday's Ceraland Spring Opener. Mike House of Texas Roadhouse trailed slightly behind. Bicycle Race Ceraland Spring Opener Saturday, April 15 Click to see the video The arrowhead-shaped pack of 60 riders twisted and writhed as the final two laps of the Ceraland Spring Opener drew to a close. Teams Tortuga, Texas Roadhouse and Bacardi-NUVO battled for the prime positions leading to the 40 mph dash to the line. A group of seven riders, alone and off the front for half the race, disintegrated nearly within touching distance from the field. Kevin Atkisson (Texas Roadhouse) and Karim Abdelkader (Tortuga) smelled blood in the water and surged to the front, decimating the riders at the back of the breakaway as they blasted across the finish line. The blood, however, was that of their breakaway teammates: Mike House and John Kelly. Bacardi-NUVO tag-teamed the breakaway with the duo of Bennet Vandergenugten and Declan Doyle overhauling the lead group to send Vandergenugten across the line in first place. Ridden over 65 minutes on a winding 1.4 mile circuit in Columbus, Ind.’s Ceraland Park, racing tactics demanded that a team force a breakaway yet stay prepared for a mass field sprint. Each of the major teams had their obvious favorites to place in a potential escape: Bacardi-NUVO, Texas Roadhouse, Dogfish and Tortuga sent designees with every group off the front. Timing, however, is everything. Groups that seemed to hold the golden ticket were constantly reabsorbed. None gained more than 10 seconds until the halfway point. A large group of 15 was in the process of being gathered into the fold when the front six riders slid off the front, quickly opening a gap. Sensing the opportunity, Vandergenugten bridged the gap and finalized the leading group of seven: Kelly, House, Doyle, Vandergenugten, Guy East (CRCA), Mike Kehrberg (Dogfish) and one other from a minor team. From this point forth the pack was relegated to cleanup duties — neutralizing riders that missed the boat attempting to bridge up to the leaders. Like a hurricane moving into warmer waters, the pack rapidly gained force and speed as it rolled into the final laps. The breakaway began to fall apart as riders were unwilling to continue to cooperate. Vandergenugten sensed this and attacked with six laps remaining, only to be captured two laps later. House immediately countered and launched his own assault. Doyle instantly shouted to his teammate Vandergenugten to sit in his draft as he clawed his way up to House’s rear wheel. The remaining riders in the break were nothing more than spectators to this clash between Texas Roadhouse and Bacardi-NUVO. Doyle continued to drive into the final lap, winding up speed for the dash to the line. Vandergenugten easily leaped past House for the victory while Doyle suffered to finish fourth as the leading edge of the pack nipped at their heels. Historically, the Ceraland Spring Opener has set the tone for the Central Indiana racing season. After suffering at the hand of Texas Roadhouse the last three years, Bacardi-NUVO looks to have finally turned the tables. Stay tuned as this rivalry continues to develop. For more information, go to www.bacardinuvocycling.com. This competition is part of the larger Indiana Race Series (www.indianaraceseries.com).

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Aaron Hubbell

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