FROM TEAM OUCH: As John Murphy of the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis noted after the Cytomax Benicia Criterium, Ã¢â‚¬Å“you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to leave empty handed from a race sponsored by one of your sponsors.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Murphy took this race by the hands and came away with the win after attacking out of a small break with four laps to go and soloing in for the victory on an afternoon where temperatures hovered around the 100-degree mark.
Murphy and teammate Roman Kilun helped make the race early, joining a 12-rider lead group just a handful of laps into the 60-minute race that would prove to be the decisive move.
With a number of top teams represented in the break, and packing plenty of horsepower, the front group steadily extended its gap to the peloton, eventually gaining 0:50 on the main bunch. With about a dozen laps remaining, the break splintered, with five riders up front group, including Murphy and Kilun along with Scott Swizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and a resurgent Chad Gerlach (Amore e Vita).
They steadily gained on their former break-mates, while former team member Mike Sayers (Amgen) spearheaded a chase out of the peloton marked by Floyd Landis of OUCH Presented by Maxxis. While the chase closed the gap a bit, they never threatened the lead group, leaving the five riders to contest the closing laps for the win.
As the five-rider group closed in on the back end of the main peloton, Bobby Lea of OUCH Presented by Maxxis dropped back to the back end of the main bunch and paced his two teammates, as well as the other members of the break, to the front of the bunch. Within a lap, the break was once again clear of the peloton.
On the fifth lap from the end, Swizanski put in a dig which Gerlach covered. When that came back, Murphy dove the first left-hander after crossing the start/finish line and drove it. The sprinter, also known to be a strong time trialist, put his engine to work and opened a 10-second gap with two laps remaining.
Swizanski and Gerlach were leading the chase while Kilun covered. Murphy went into the bell lap holding a five-second lead, with a highly motivated Gerlach trying to shut it down. Coming out of the final turn, Murphy was hanging on to a two-second lead, with Gerlach starting to close on the 300-meter, slightly uphill drag to the line. Murphy took a quick look behind him and dug deep for one last effort over the final 150 meters, holding off Gerlach by several bike lengths, while Swizanski came home in 3rd place. Kilun rolled in for 5th.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I saw Gerlach coming after the last turn and I just put my head down and went one last time,Ã¢â‚¬Â Murphy said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was really glad I had Cytomax in me today.Ã¢â‚¬Â