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."
Stage 2 of the San Dimas Stage Race is one of the toughest road races in the country, making it notoriously difficult for a team to hold onto the yellow jersey. The Alto p/b SeaSucker team came into the race with four riders, including Emerson, Taylor Shelden, Dan Holloway, and Mac Cassin. Stage 2 would have been a tall ask for a full team of 8, so the guys certainly had their work cut out for them!
The team rose to the challenge and controlled a very aggressive peloton for the nearly three and a half hour race, ensuring a field sprint and another yellow jersey for Emerson. "I'm not going to lie, the butterflies were definitely flapping quite a bit at the start," said Oronte after crossing the finish line. "This race is historically very hectic and hard to defend on, but we were motivated and my teammates are strong, so it was just a matter of getting the job done."
"Our main goal was to be at the front on the technical section before hitting the main climb each lap," said Oronte when asked about his tactics for the day. "The first few laps were really hectic, but my teammates did an awesome job keeping me at the front. Sadly, with 7 laps to go, Mac and Dan were taken out by mechanicals so for the second half of the race Taylor was the only guy left to help. He was amazing today, he rode like 10 men. I couldn't tell you how many pulls the guy took where I thought 'well, he's done' and then he would come back. Seriously, it was impressive."
"I'm happy to have that one out of the way and the guys and I are going to do our best to bring this one home tomorrow!"
San Dimas concludes tomorrow with stage 3, the downtown criterium. It's sure to be fast but the team is up to the challenge!
The Alto presented by SeaSucker team kicked off the 2015 campaign today at the San Dimas Stage Race (http://www.sdsr.bike/). The stage race starts with an uphill time trial on the infamous Glendora Mountain, and our own Emerson Oronte came home with the victory over second place Gregory Brenes (Jamis Hagens Bermen) by an 11 second margin.
We caught up with Emerson, fresh off of receiving the yellow jersey, to ask about his preparation and what it took to win the prestigious race. "This off season was probably my most productive to date," said Oronte. "I had a solid build up in Colorado through Thanksgiving, and then several productive weeks in Tucson, AZ. I really made it a point to focus, take my time, and do everything right without rushing it. You just have to be confident in your training path and I've been diligent in sticking to my plan. Today was proof of that."
This is Emerson's first year with a new team that includes a lot of new teammates and equipment. It can be a big transition, but Emerson has obviously transitioned perfectly into the program. "My off season was bolstered by the motivation of being part of the new Alto p/b SeaSucker team for 2015. It's a solid group of guys and the support across the board is top notch. Whether it be Alto wheels, SeaSucker racks, Felt bikes, Pearl Izumi clothing, Pioneer power meters, Thomson components, etc, I don't think there is a team in America that can match the performance benefits that we get from our sponsors.
Emerson is joined in San Dimas by Elite National Criterium Champion, Dan Holloway, as well as seasoned professionals Taylor Shelden and Mac Cassin. They will face a challenging road race in tomorrow's stage 2, and a technical criterium on Sunday. "It's definitely a hard race to defend on," Oronte says of stage 2, "but I'm confident and the guys are motivated. We're going to give it hell and if someone is going to take this jersey from us you can be damn sure they're going to work for it."
Alto is about engineering excellence in product design, but we are also about giving back to the sport and its athletes. Alto is now the title sponsor of the Rouleur Sports Group team Alto/SeaSucker Factory Racing!