After six years of racing for other teams, two riders in the Amgen Tour of California got the chance to compete in the event as members of the same team –– the Bissell Pro Cycling team.
It was a dream identical twin brothers Ben and Andy Jacques-Maynes had been working towards for some time, and while it started the way they had hoped, it didn’t have quite the ending both would have liked.
Ben joined team Bissell in 2007, having previously been a member of Kodakgallery/ Sierra Nevada team from 2002 to 2006. In 2003 he also turned professional. Last year, he finished 16 overall during the Tour of California, having placed in the top 10 for the time trails for the last two years and having raced in all four Tour of California events.
Andy turned professional in 2001 and rode for a number of different teams from 2001 to 2008 before joining team Bissell this year.
For the brothers, the opportunity to ride for the same team held an even greater meaning. While it was their first race as team members, it was also Andy’s first race back professionally following a near-fatal crash in 2007.
Andy, who is older by five minutes, said recovering from the injuries he suffered in the crash in 2007 was arduous.
“It was in a [race] on Memorial Day,” he said. “I got a flat tire in a sprint around the last corner, lost control of my bike and ended up going off the course and hit a light pole at about 40 miles per hour.”
Today’s stage of the Tour of California saw a lot of action from the BISSELL Team. This day, more than any other during this year’s tour, saw continuous attacks right from the neutral zone. At least one BISSELL rider was involved in each of the early moves. The peloton reacted to all of these moves and it wasn’t until mid-race that a break worked successfully. A group of 10 were able to get away and opened the gap to 3 minutes by the top of Millcreek Summit. Continuous attacking occurred within the break and eventually the break was down to 3 riders: Weening (Rabobank), Roulston (Cervelo), and Nocentini (AG2R).
Just before the peloton entered the Pasadena circuits, there was a crash involving several riders including BISSELL riders, Frank Pipp and Tom Zirbel. Frank got up quickly and was eventually able to get back on the main group. Tom, however, suffered more from the crash. Tom and two other victims, Svein Tuft and Trent Lowe both from Garmin-Slipstream, did resume riding, but they were never able to catch back on to the group. They did finish the stage and took minimal losses.
The crowds around the Rose Bowl saw the three leaders in a photo finish with Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R) taking the win. Jeremy Vennell, Ben Jacques-Maynes, and Frank Pipp came through with the main peloton, 2’19” behind Nocentini. Tom lost over eight minutes and will certainly be feeling the effects of the crash during tomorrow’s stage. Pete Latham suffered the accumulation of 8 days of strong racing, and he did not finish today’s stage. Ben continues to be BISSELL’s highest placed rider in the GC at 24th.
The BISSELL Pro Cycling put everything they had left into the final day of the Tour of California. The course was the most difficult stage with 5 KOMs including Palomar Mountain which is the highest point ever reached in the Tour of California.
Ben Jacques-Maynes was in a break right from the start. A group of 9 broke away before the first climb. The group went over the Highland Valley Road climb with Ben taking 3rd on this KOM. The group continued to work together but was reduced to just 4 on the second KOM. Ben went off with Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), and Serge Pauwels (Cervelo). Ben got 2nd on the second KOM of the day. Chase groups continued to push the leaders until all were reabsorbed. In the meantime, Ben had put out an incredible effort over 2 KOMs and 1 intermediate sprint.
Continuous attacks occurred on the climb up Palomar Mountain. The long arduous climb without any respite took its toll in Ben’s knee, and he was forced to abandon at the top of the climb.
On the final KOM, Cole Grade, Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) accelerated, and the only one that could follow was Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas). The duo maintained their lead to the finish with Schleck taking the win.
The group 40 seconds behind contained 29 riders including BISSELL’s Jeremy Vennell. Jeremy came through with a fabulous finish at 19th place for the stage which secured him 26th in the overall GC. Tom Zirbel and Frank Pipp also put forth amazing effort and finished 36th and 43rd in the overall GC, respectively.
The BISSELL Team rode an outstanding race. The early poor weather, the added stages, and the toughest field of riders certainly made this the most difficult Tour of California. A tour which saw 136 riders start only had 84 at the finish.
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team proved to the world that they are the dominating domestic team in the time trail discipline with 3 of their riders placing in the top 20. Peter Latham was BISSELL’s first rider to test the day and rode the 15 mile course in 33 minutes 23 seconds. Frank Pipp took on the course next and rode a great time trial placing 32nd on the day. The reigning New Zealand National Time Trail Champion, Jeremy Vennell, was the first BISSELL rider to break the top twenty when he scorched the course coming in 17th with a time of 32’00”. The massive crowds were captured when Tom Zirbel took to the start ramp. All eyes followed Tom’s ride as he came through with the fastest time. Tom finished the day with the 7th best time beating riders such as Lance Armstrong and Christian VandeVelde. BISSELL’s final rider was Ben Jacques-Maynes who has consistently placed well in the Tour of California Time Trial and this year was no exception. Ben placed 11th in today’s race against the clock.
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team was the fifth fastest team in the time trail and were the highest placed domestic team. Congratulations on an outstanding day!
Stage 5 from Visalia to Paso Robles was the longest stage of this year’s tour, and took place under sunny skies with temperatures holding in the 60’s. The goal for the BISSELL Team was to have a quiet day of spinning the legs so that they can feel as fresh as possible for tomorrow’s time trial.
There was a breakaway of 6 riders including Weening (Rabobank), Louder (BMC), Evans (OUCH), Crane (Jelly Belly), Gunn (Fly V Australia), and Chadwick (Rock Racing) which comprised most of the day. Astana controlled the peloton throughout the day. At about 20 miles to go, the breakaway began to fall apart and a group of 60 were together to contest the finish. There were competing set-ups occurring between the teams of Columbia and Cervelo. In the end, Mark Renshaw (Columbia) led teammate Mark Cavendish (Columbia) out for the win. This is Cavendish’s second win in this year’s tour. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) came in second with Pedro Horillo (Rabobank) taking third.
Ben Jacques-Maynes was with the finishing group and took 13th place which secures his position of 25th in the GC as he heads into tomorrow’s time trial. Tom, Frank, Peter, and Jeremy came through in the next groups and are also focused on Solvang.
Ben Jacques-Maynes captured the Most Courageous Jersey today for his fearless efforts on his hometown roads. The Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Jersey is a new addition to the tour this year and is given to the rider each day who best demonstrates courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination, and perseverance. It was a long and tough day where Ben strongly exhibited these traits.
After passing over the Golden Gate Bridge, a successful 10 rider break was formed which included Ben. The break was a strong group of riders, with a wide team representation, and good working tactics who endured another day of insufferable weather conditions which included rain, fog, and hail. The break built up over a 4 minute gap as the imminent Bonny Doon climb loomed.
As the break fought the tough ascent, there was a large crash in the peloton involving 15 riders. Unfortunately one of the riders was Andy Jacques-Maynes. Andy was taken to the hospital due to concerns of a concussion and soreness to his wrist and ankle. He has since been released and is expected to make a full recovery.
At 20 miles remaining in the race, attacks began coming from both the lead group and the peloton. Carlos Barredo (Quickstep) was the first to launch an attack out of the break and he was quickly followed by Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank) and Tom Peterson (Garmin-Slipstream). Back in the peloton, Levi Leipheimer (Astana) launched an attack. Levi was able to soar past his group and eventually pass the remnants of the break including Ben. The leaders were shuffled over the final several miles, but it was Levi and Tom Peterson who came to the line. Peterson took the win on the day’s stage.
Ben finished 28th and was 1:52 behind the winner. Tom Zirbel came in with the same time. BISSELL riders, Jeremy Vennell and Frank Pipp, came in with the next group at 4:51 back. BISSELL riders Omer Kem and Peter Latham also made it safely to the finish. BISSELL sprinter, Kirk O’Bee, had difficulty with the day’s climbing and did not finish the stage. The day’s results place Ben 25th in the general classification, and Tom is in 26th.
The riders were very happy to face the 115 mile day under sunny skies. The course was packed with 5 KOMs and 2 intermediate sprints. Even though the course had snow on the road at the higher elevations, the sunshine kept the temperatures bearable.
Just after the first KOM, an escape of 4 containing Pauwels (Cervelo), McCartney (Saxo Bank), Hamilton and Mancebo (Rock Racing) was able to get off. Because Mancebo’s high overall ranking was a threat to the GC, he did not stay out in front long and was ordered back to allow the break a chance to survive.
The break lasted until 3K to go when Cervelo brought things back together to set up Thor Hushovd. However, a late attack from Horillo (Rabobank) faulted Cervelo’s plans. Columbia then had the opportunity to set up for their sprinter, Mark Cavendish. It was a very close finish with Cavendish taking the win followed by Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank).
Today was once again marred with crashes. Oscar Friere (Rabobank), Kim Kirchen (Columbia), and Scott Nydam (BMC) were all victims.
The BISSELL riders all made it to the finish safely. Frank Pipp came through with a nice sprint finish taking 17th place. Tom and Ben both moved up a spot in the GC to 25th and 26th, respectively.
SACRAMENTO -- Andy Jacques-Maynes held off his asthma attack long enough to finish the prologue in his first Tour of California on Saturday. But the professional cyclist from Capitola couldn't hold off Lance Armstrong, Levi Leiphiemer or Fabian Cancellara.
Cancellara of Switzerland won the 3.8-kilometer opening sprint in 4 minutes, 32.9 seconds. Among the last to start and with the threat of rain growing stronger with each racer, he streaked around the crowd-lined Capitol Park at an average of about 30 mph. Leipheimer, a local favorite out of nearby Santa Rosa, took second at 2 seconds back and David Zabriskie was third.
No one drew more cheers or more attention, however, than Armstrong. Behind heavy crowd support that was both chalk-marked on the streets and crackling through the air, the seven-time Tour de France champion from Texas finished 10th in 4:37.
That time beat out Ben Jacques-Maynes, Andy's twin brother, by just 1 second. The sixth racer on the course, he held first for a short time before eventually dropping to 13th overall. Brother Andy finished 23rd in 4:42.
"You just get out there and go and go," said Ben Jacques-Maynes, whose specialty is time trials. "You get in a bigger gear and see if you can win it.
"The guys right in front of me are world class," he added, noting Cancellara is the defending Tour of California champion and a Tour de France stage winner, as is Leipheimer. "That's prettygood company to keep."
With five of eight Bissell Pro Cycling riders placing in the top 25 Saturday, the Jacques-Maynes brothers may be able to keep that company for the rest of the nine-day, 750-mile tour. Last year, Ben finished 16th in the general classification.
Then again, the brothers will be looking to shake the peloton come Monday when the tour rolls into their backyard. The 115-mile Stage 2 begins Sausalito and finishes in downtown Santa Cruz. It's a stage win both Jacques-Maynes have admitted they crave.
First, though, they have to make the trek from Davis to Santa Rosa. It's a 107.6-mile race expected to be made even tougher by strong winds and rain.
"What it's going to take is a guy who's mentally strong," said Andy Jacques-Maynes. "It's going to be really hard. Everyone going to cross [the finish line] with that haunted look on their face."
Andy Jacques-Maynes looked relaxed and ready for more as he cooled down under a team tent post-race. Moments earlier, he hadn't been so composed.
During the final sprint to the finish, he felt his lungs seize up in an asthma attack.
"I crossed the finish line totally gassed," he said.
Luckily, he anticipated it -- the attacks have become more common since he seriously injured himself, including collapsing part of his lung, in a cyclocross accident last year -- and a team aide met him at the finish line with inhaler in hand. But even that couldn't put a damper on his first Tour of California race.
"A huge crowd, lots of people, fast racers," he said, "I'm really happy to be a part of it."
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team survived, intact, the nasty weather conditions and unusual race circumstances of the ATOC stage 1 from Davis to Santa Rosa. The day lived up to the agonizing forecast, temperatures steady at 45 degrees, continuous rain which led to significant standing water and debris on the roads.
Only 8 miles into the stage, Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) broke away. Mancebo had occasional companions, but for the majority of the day he endured 2 KOM climbs racing solo into Santa Rosa. Finally during the finishing circuits, he was joined by Nabali (Liguigas) and VanDeWalle (Quickstep), but Mancebo conserved enough energy to pull away to the line taking the win.
The day was complicated further by unusual calls by race officials. As the main peloton approached Calistoga, the teams were notified that due to weather conditions the finishing times would be determined based on the time that the rider entered the circuit into Santa Rosa. The ruling meant that for all riders not contesting the win, the finish would be at the start of the circuit. This late ruling had impact on the outcome of the race. Another element adding to the varying dynamics of the day was the early abandonment of the race leader, Fabian Cancellera. This change placed Astana in the position of having to defend the leader’s jersey.
The BISSELL Team survived today’s poor conditions with only 2 flats on a day where mechanicals were frequent. The team remains very motivated as they face stage 2, Sausalito to Santa Cruz. Team Manager, Glen Mitchell says, "The Jacques-Maynes are motivated as they head into their home town. This is America’s biggest race with the strongest field in history. BISSELL will be looking for opportunities, and if they arise, the BISSELL Team will show the world what we’ve got."
he BISSELL Pro Cycling Team came through with outstanding results in the opening prologue of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. BISSELL captured 4th place in the team competition and had 5 riders in the top twenty five. Ben Jacques-Maynes was the first BISSELL rider on the 2.4 mile course around the Sacramento Capital Building. Ben held the fastest time until being bumped out by Garmin-Slipstream rider, Svein Tuft and Columbia rider, Mark Cavendish. Ben sat in third place behind Tuft and Cavendish for most of the day. The BISSELL team continued to rack up great times. Pursuit strongman, Peter Latham, was well suited for the day’s efforts and finished 19th overall. New Zealand National Time Trial Champion, Jeremy Vennell, finished 21st. Andy Jacques-Maynes attracted a lot of TV time on Versus and had a great race turning in the 23rd fastest time. Tom Zirbel was the final BISSELL rider and topped off a great day for the team with a 12th place finish. The team’s 4th place classification is up there with the best teams in cycling: Columbia-Highroad, Garmin-Slipstream, and Astana.
NorCal’s Ben Jacques-Maynes has been a mainstay domestic pro at the Amgen Tour of California since the race’s first edition in 2006, and he’s back for 2009. Jacques-Maynes, who hails from Berkeley but lives outside of Santa Cruz, will co-captain the Bissell squad alongside fellow time-trial specialist Tom Zirbel.
This year’s California Tour is a tad different for Jacques-Maynes. For the first time he comes into the official season opener with racing already in his legs — he finished eighth at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina last month. He’s racing alongside his twin brother, Andy. And while in years past Jacques-Maynes held his bullets until the time trial — he finished ninth in the TT at last year’s AToC — Jacques-Maynes say’s he’s not afraid to take some chances on the road this year.
VeloNews caught up with Jacques-Maynes to hear his take on the 2009 race.
VeloNews: The presence of Lance Armstrong at this year’s Tour of California has truly put the race on the global stage. What kind of pressure are you feeling with so many more eyes on the race?
Ben Jacques-Maynes: We’ve raced against Lance in years past, and it doesn’t put a ton more pressure on. It’ll be good. It makes it that more impressive if you’re able to grab a result because so many more people are going to see it and know about it. Anything that Lance brings to this race will increase the importance of us having a killer effort and trying to make a difference in the race. The payoff is that much bigger.
VN: You’ve been one of the top domestic performers at the Tour of California in the past. Who are some other non ProTour riders who could shine this year?
BJM: I think some new guys are going to step up this year. There are some of the Aussie riders on the (Fly V Australia presented by Successful Living Foundation) who haven’t stepped into American racing yet, but they are really strong. I’ve raced against them in Australia and read about them on the Internet, and I think people in America don’t necessarily know their talents. They could be a team to watch. And I think all of the former Symmetrics riders, bar non, are going to show that they are flying too. That team had some major talent.
VN: How have your own objectives at the Tour of California changed?
BJM: I’ve gone top-10 in the time trial so I’m more confident than in years past. I’d like to do something else in the race this year, whether it’s a really good result in a road race or getting into a breakaway. I want to put my strengths out there and see what I have. We’ll see what happens as the race goes along. We need to talk with (team director) Glen (Mitchell) about it. But it’s an idea I’ve been kicking around — to just ride and take a chance if the case presents itself. I think we’re coming to the race with the strongest team we’ve ever had. We have some sprint prowess, which opens up the flat days for us. So instead of me just rolling across the line in the back I can drag some teammates up and see what they can do.
VN: What are your thoughts on this year’s route?
BJM: It’s a catch-22. It’s more difficult in that it’s nine days long, there are some transfers and we have five hard days of racing and then the time trial. If it’s pouring rain it could be really miserable, an the field is really stacked. But on the flip side there is no Sierra Road. There’s no definite road stage where everyone is going to step out at the same moment and make a split and show what they’ve got. It could be game on every day. Every day could be that decisive day. If a 15-man group get away on a seemingly innocuous day, that could be game over.
VN: I noticed your twin brother Andy is in the race this year, racing alongside you.
BJM Yeah, it’s really positive. Fans want to have their local riders to cheer for, and there are a lot of Californian riders who aren’t going this year. No Taylor (Tolleson), no Jackson (Stewart). I’m honored that Andy and I get to represent the Bay Area. He’s on good form — he has a lot of strength left over from cyclocross. I can’t drop him on the climbs right now. And he has some speed, so if he doesn’t get dropped on the climbs he could win a stage like the one into Santa Cruz.
VN: Lets talk about that Santa Cruz stage. You’re a local, what’s your history with that (Stage 2) climb to Bonny Doon?
BJM: I’ve had a lot of training days on it, going back to the UC Santa Cruz days. I was climbing in the Santa Cruz mountains every day back then. I love the twists and turns in the road, and I’m looking forward to dialing it up on the descent and being able to use the full lane.
VN: Do you think the sprinters can make it over that climb?
BJM: It all depends on the pace. If there’s a breakaway and the teams really dial it up the sprinters could easily get dropped. If we ride an easy tempo then they could survive. If everyone is riding slow I’m not going to sit around and wait to see.
VN: That stage finishes in downtown Santa Cruz, your new hometown. What’s the significance of having the Tour come there for you?
BJM: I’ve been working with the local organizing committee for three years now. They’ve put in a bid to have the Tour come through for a while and I was designing some early courses a few years ago. To see their hard work finally get rewarded is really satisfying. I now know how much time and work was involved in getting it here, and the process wasn’t easy. I think it adds some motivation to me to have a better race.
VN: So who is your prediction to win the race?
BJM: The whole thing? I’m calling Floyd (Landis). I think he has the motivation. I know he has the legs to do it. He’s done it in the past. I’ve heard he was flying at his (OUCH-Maxxis) training camp. And he’s the only guy who can beat Levi at a Tour of California time trial. His team looks pretty strong to help him do the job. And I think if they won it would be a good showcase of what domestic talent can do. We could show that this race isn’t just about the ProTour coming in and trashing us. Above all I’d like to see some domestic guys — any domestic guys — show that we can own this race too.
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