Leece makes it back-to-back at Nevada City Classic (video) | TheUnion.com

Leece makes it back-to-back at Nevada City Classic (video)

Brian shepard
Sports Writer

It was a beautiful Father's Day for racing as cyclists and spectators flocked to Nevada City for the 53rd annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic. Fans watched and cheered on as the riders whizzed passed the start-finish line on their decent of Broad Street.

Overcoming a 42-second gap with six laps to go, it was San Luis Obispo's Stephen Leece making it back-to-back wins in the Men's Pro 1/2 race.

"I'm happy again for a win on Father's Day," said race champion Leece. "It was a hard race. I had to break it a part a bit. I didn't let the gaps get too big, I just sat in and waited for the finish."

Leece crossed the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 25 minutes, 42 seconds followed by Roman Kilun at 1:25:53 and Jon Hornbeck, who crossed a split-second after Kilun. It was Hornbeck who jumped out in front solo ahead of the pack a little passed the halfway point of the race. It appeared to be a commanding lead, but it gradually began to dwindle as competitors reeled him in with just one lap to go.

"With three to go, the pace was slowing so I attacked," Leece said. "I went again on two and the last time it stuck. I got away."

California Road Race champion Shawn Rosenthal was in the mix but faded slightly toward the end and grabbed the 10th spot with a time of 1:26:03.

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In the Men's Elite 3/4 race Nickalas Blades beat out his fellow competitors in an exhilarating sprint to the finish as each of the top five riders all crossed the line within one second of one another with a time of 49 minutes flat.

"I felt really good at the beginning," said Blades, who resides in Reno, Nev. "In the last lap, I took off last at the bottom behind two guys, and I hung around. We came around the bend, I dropped gear and shot around both of them. No way did I think I'd be pedaling going downhill."

Local rider AJ Seivert placed 10th with a time of 49:07, and Eric Struble came in at 19th with a mark of 51:04. Also for team SHO-AIR were Ryan Vanderbeun, who crashed according to Seivert and recovered for 25th place, while Noah Campbell and Paul Falvey finished two laps down.

"I felt good," said Seivert after finishing his second race of the day. "I thought it would be cooler. They said upper 70s, but it was mid-80s. The climbing was my favorite. We could get away from the roadies."

For the women, Elle Anderson pulled out all the stops and cruised to a 58-second victory in the Pro 1/2/3 event with a time of 50:04. She took control of the lead with 10 laps to go and just left everyone in the dust.

"The great thing about this course is that it's easy to get out of sight with all the twists and turns," said Anderson, who moved to San Francisco last year from Vermont. "It makes it harder to chase me down. I got fourth place last year, and my goal was to come back and place better. I used to be an alpine skier, so I'm more confident in the turns. I want to thank my sponsors Strava.com and Vanderkitten.com."

In the Elite 4 for the women, Clarice Sayle of Los Gatos raced in for the top spot at 51:30 as local Maria Flor Hodges came in at third with a time of 53:30.

"This is awesome riding, even better racing and winning. That's just the cherry on top," said Sayle after her big win. "It's a consistent, steady effort. I'm proud of myself."

Standing on the podium was also a satisfying moment for Hodges.

"This is my first time," Hodges said. "It was fun. I was being careful on the downhill. It was for my husband as a Father's Day present. We have a 5-year old."

The Masters race took place just before the women with reigning national champ Jason Walker of Reno sprinting downhill to the finish for the victory with a time of 44:50 as he beat out Andres Gil, Michael Sayers and Jason Grefrath all by less than a second for the 35-plus category.

"I've never won here," said Walker, joyful after his latest feat. "I've finished second twice and always, always, always wanted to win it. I didn't know until the end it would be a 40 mph sprint. I had a good jump. I really want to thank the Jim Rogers family. I don't use my phone in the car anymore."

Winning the Masters 45-plus age bracket for the third time at the Classic was Cale Reeder of Cameron Park as he crossed the line at 44:55 edging out his closest competitors by approximately 18 seconds.

"I attacked on the last lap as hard as I could go," explained Reeder, who won previously in 2009 and 2010. "I've won all three times I've raced. The first two times, I wasn't sure I was on the last lap so I'm glad they had the counter fixed. Some guys stayed with me. I turned around and saw 35s, so I let them go and came in by myself with my arms up."

The day began with Junior races kicking things off as ages 10-12, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18 took to the course. Neilson Powless won it all for the 17-18 bracket as he flew down Broad Street with his hands raised clocking in with a time of 46:31 as local rider, Seivert, finished in third at 47:43.

"My dad is my coach," said Powless, who resides in Roseville. "He was sitting up at the top of the hill telling me to start breaking it up. I attacked going up the hill and felt it out the first couple of laps seeing who could go and who couldn't."

Jason Saltzman won the 15-16 group with a time of 47:15. Zachary Gottesman claimed the top spot for the 13-14 category at 47:17 and Grover Rozek led the youngest riders ages 10-12 with a final time of 49:59.

To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, email bshepard@theunion.com or call 530-477-4234.

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