Ryan Anderson sprinted to a photo finish victory after a perfectly timed bike throw during the fourth stage of the North Star Grand Prix, the Uptown Criterium. It is the first time the team has won the stage, it also helped keep the Orange & Black in a good position for their pursuit to regain the yellow jersey. Jesse Anthony also claimed a step on the podium finishing third after being the final leadout for Anderson.
“It was pretty easy for me tonight because the team rode unbelievably well,” said Anderson. “Teams were challenging us all night, but the guys really stayed cool under pressure. We were all motivated to get the win after coming up short at the St. Paul Criterium, and the guys worked so hard to bring back the breakaway and positioned me perfectly for the last corner.”
A five man break took the lead a few laps into the race and gained almost 30 seconds on the peloton. Optum p/b KBS did what they do best, heading to the front of the pack to control the gap and begin reeling things in slowly. Although the gap wavered a few times, the horsepower continued to grow until the last ten laps when it appeared certain the group of leaders would be caught, thanks in great part to the Orange & Black’s powerful leadout train.
“Zwizanski, Routley, and Zirbel really controlled the tempo of this race, and did most of work to chase them down,” said Anthony. “Going into the last lap, Zwiz was incredible – he was on the front for most of the lap. I looked back and saw Anderson back about four guys, and then saw big Tom Zirbel move back and blast him up back onto my wheel as we headed into the last turn. It was awesome. He had a great line going into the corner and a clean shot at the line, so the team execution was near flawless today.”
Scott Zwizanski’s efforts on the last lap were critical, and the man of few words was quick with an exhausted smile after the team’s first ever victory at the Uptown Criterium.
“We waited too long in St. Paul to bring the break back and we paid for it, so we wanted to make sure that we timed it perfectly tonight,” said Zwizanski. “We were trying to bring them back gradually, but they started to gain a little time with seven to go, so we really started to pour on the gas. We caught them with one to go and I took charge for most of the lap until Zirbel took over, giving Anthony and Anderson a big guy to follow through the chaos all the way to the line.”
The team now heads to the decisive fifth stage, the Menomonie Road Race. The overall winner of the race will likely be determined on the grueling course in the hills of Wisconsin.