First year teams, in the first race of the season, don't walk right in and win, do they? That's exactly what Alto presented by SeaSucker did this weekend at the San Dimas Stage Race, with Emerson Oronte taking the general classification victory against some of the best professional teams in the country.
After a successful jersey defense on stage 2, Emerson and Taylor Shelden faced a fast, technical, and unpredictable downtown criterium on stage 3. "Given the time gaps on GC, we had to focus on two things: making sure nobody in the top 5 got up the road, and that no large break would wind up lapping the field," said Oronte about the team's tactics on stage 3. "We figured that a lot of teams, on paper, would want to go for the field sprint, so we were confident that they would help us chase the larger breakaways. With about 15min to go the sprinter's teams came to the front and I sat 15-20 wheels back to avoid the madness while also being sure not to miss any potential time gaps that could open. I'm happy that I managed to do both!"
This is Emerson's first major stage race victory, requiring years of hard work and sacrifice. "I'm not entirely sure it has sunk in. Maybe when I'm back home looking at the yellow jersey on the wall it will sink in. For now, I know that winning straight out of the blocks with the new team definitely puts a smile on my face. The guys, especially Taylor, were awesome this weekend and I can already tell that this is going to be a real team that looks after each other, not just a group of guys riding around in matching spandex."
Next up for the team is the Redlands Classic, the first event on the National Racing Calendar, which features a stage 3 mountain top finish up Oak Glen Rd. "To be honest, I'm already looking ahead to Redlands to make sure I'm ready to go there," said Oronte. "I know for a fact that we turned a few heads at San Dimas, and I look forward to seeing what we can do to surprise people next."