Top Banana Competition Unveiling: The Road


The second, overly-dramatic revelation of the 2013 Top Banana Competition.

After a rash of gravel roads, fat bikes and cyclocross, the Route takes on the bulk of the pavement on the 2013 schedule. While there are just four road events, all are A races with full points. In order to win the overall, riders will almost certainly have to register points in three of the events, or otherwise go on an absolute tear in the fall.

After the first four events, riders like Jorden Wakeley, Ryan Kennedy, Mike Anderson and Chris Kushman should all be relatively high in the overall. The road scene may whittle down the top riders, with Anderson, Tom Burke, Dan Korienek and others all moving to the fore.

An early tip for the Women’s lead heading into April, May and June is Chelsea Strate, who is slated to make starts at all early events. She’s won two races in two series that will conclude, the Northern Michigan Fat Bike Series and Inside Out Cross.

Queen’s Day Criterium, April 28. The New Holland Brewery Cycling Team hosts a fast criterium to start the road season off. Located in Holland, the crit is the first chance to chalk up a win and gain some valuable early points. The timing is also important; it’s the best way to get in some early season Crit experience ahead of a stacked June line-up. C-Race, 5 points, -1 through the top five.

Mud, Sweat and Beers, May 4. It’s become the kick off for big mountain bike events, and boasts the one of the most impressive start lists outside of the Iceman Cometh. For hometown teams Einstein Racing and Hagerty Cycling, the results are tallied by team podiums, not just individual wins. Jorden Wakeley and Johanna Schmidt led the way last year, but with more teams around the state sending riders and the emergence of tough women teams in Grand Rapids and Holland, there’s nothing set in stone. It’s also one of the fastest courses in the state, making any margin of victory equally impressive. B Race, 10 points, -1 through the top ten.

Conquer the Village Mountain Bike Race,  May 25. It’s a new race in Traverse City, and one that has a legendary route. The course is just three miles long, but takes riders up over 300 feet of climbing per lap. The route that makes the most of Hickory Hills and the Commons is the ancient training route of Joe Sovis. Fast, tough and instantly selective right from the gun. C Race, 5 points, -1 through the top five.

West Branch Classic Road Race, June 1. The Race That Almost Wasn’t in 2012 will start the 2013 Triple Crown. The road course at West Branch features, frankly, one obstacle. It’s a hill. A pretty big one. But it isn’t the main climb that decides the race, it’s the way teams ride it. Blowing up the race before, attacking on the lower slopes or putting the pressure on over the top, the climb splits the climbers from the flatlanders. Keep a close eye on 2012 CAT 3 State Road Race champion Bridgit Widrig; she’s small, climbs well, and isn’t afraid to attack even the best racers. A Race, 15 points, 13 to second, 11 to third, -1 for the rest of the top ten.

Mount Pleasant Criterium, June 8. Another weekend, another discipline. The lightweights may be off the back and suffering, but there’s still a lot of points on offer to the fast man who make it to Mount Pleasant. Wide, wide roads, big crowds and almost zero chance for a breakaway win. Yep, this is a Michigan Crit race. A Race, 15 points, 13 to second, 11 to third, -1 for the rest of the top ten.

Cherry-Roubaix Road Race, June 16. Back to the former state road race for the final road event on the schedule. The Roubaix politely stepped away from its August slot so riders can indulge in their Ore2Shore obsession. The switch also sets up the race to cap off one of the most action-packed months on the calendar. The second hilltop finish of the month, the Cherry-Roubaix is yet another opportunity for the climbers to take a victory. It will mark the return of Mackenzie Woodring to her unbelievable 2012 showing in Traverse City, dominating all weekend and winning alone in the Crit and the road race. A Race, 15 points, 13 to second, 11 to third, -1 for the rest of the top ten.

More unnecessarily dragged out news tomorrow!

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