Continuing where he left off last season, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) defended his title and won the Yokohl Ranch Exeter Time Trial, part of the Sequoia Cycling Classic. After 40 kilometers over a hilly terrain, Jacques-Maynes crossed the line in fifty-six minutes, twenty-five seconds with a lead of forty-nine seconds over second place Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis) and one minute fifteen seconds in front of third place finisher Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast).

Time Trial podium (l-r): Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit/Medifast), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis)

The riders went out at 30-second intervals with Ben Jacques-Maynes in the final positions on the start list.

"I had guys in sight the whole time, steady flow of riders to catch and that always helps motivation and I never cracked, I was working my gears really well and doing what I could." said Jacques-Maynes.

Rounding off the top five were Heath Blackgrove (Toyota-United) at one minute seventeen seconds back from Jacques-Maynes and Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) with one minutes 20 seconds gap.

While not part of the NRC calendar for the men this year, the Sequoia Cycling Classic has a long tradition, and is one of the last few training races before the NRC races start in April, and riders are taking one of the few last opportunities to refine their forms. A lot of riders are still recovering from the illnesses from the Amgen Tour of California and were using these last few races as testing ground.

The course started off with a 400 feet climb over Rocky Hill and into rolling and twisting Yokhol Valley gradually climbing 400 feet again before the turnaround and return to the start/finish line. Conditions were windy with a tailwind on the way out and a strong tailwind on the return with rain falling on a few of the last competitors.

Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), winner
"We did a training camp in Visalia several years ago on Sierra Nevada, I've ridden all these roads plenty of time, the third time I've done this time trial, I did the Rocky Hill road race, way way back when, that was actually my first pro race ever, so got a pretty good history year in Visalia, last year was good, the year before I was second in the time trial. So I know these roads, it's beautiful out here, definitely hard, hard riding. You never feel like you're in a rhythm, these roads are always up and down, turning, watching pot holes, always thinking that you could be going faster, never in a rhythm, and coming back over Rocky Hill was just brutal, headwind, I was just trying to make it over the hill honestly."

"With a big break with the end of Tour of California and the start of the NRC racing, I've purposely taken a bit of a break, I was a week sick, and then I took another week off. So this is actually the end of my first week back of training, I want to be a bit underdone right now and not be going too well. I'm going at time trials, that kind of comes naturally to me but there's definitely room for improvement on my form for coming into Redlands and Georgia. Looking forwards to the month of April and stepping back into the NRC races. We're just going to go out and race as hard as we can, try to win as many races as we can."

Rory Sutherland (Health Net Maxxis), second place
"It wasn't the greatest, I don't think a 40k timetrial is meant to go well, that's the idea. For Karl (Menzies) and myself, we come here with no team support, it's pure training for the next few weeks coming up getting ready for the big competition so the fact kind of reiterates that things are going in the right direction. I would have been content with being in the top 10 just to race again after the last fee weeks off. It went okay I guess and I think timetrials like this without a lot of pressure on top of them are very good timetrial training in general, you can kind of get used to your position and try different things and there's not so much stress associated with this, it's a good test in that respect."

"I got sick straight after California like I had the whole week off, I'm still coughing up things. I think that everybody's come out of that like in an interesting state, there's a small percentage that seems to come out healthy and stay healthy. "

"Back to 100%? probably not, but that doesn't necessarily say that if I am I'm going to go a minute faster. I feel like I need to be healthier but I'm in a good mental state at the moment and that's the best thing."

Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast), third place
"It's pretty hilly, it's a tough course, that hill on the way out is tough but with 30 second intervals between the guys is pretty nice because you have people to chase right away so I caught my 30-second and minute guy pretty quick on that hill, it's pretty good. I don't have more power than everybody but I have a pretty good position on the bike so with the wind and the hills, I think it worked towards my favor a little bit."

"Headwind on the way back, so on the way out there, it feels pretty good, you're going pretty fast and you feel good, and then after that turn around you have some hills to come back out and then a lot of headwind on the way back in, so you had to be sure to keep something in the tank on the way back, so yeah pretty happy."

"We worked with some guys, Steve Hed, he knows a lot about positioning, he does our wheels and bars and we had some good times with him and he helped us dial in our position, took a lot of the width out of my shoulders with the position of my elbows so that helped a lot I'm sure, it's good to work with people that know what they're doing. "

Heath Blackgrove (Toyota-United), fourth place
"It's a tough course. It's a challenging course, up and down the whole way, with a bit of wind today. Hadn't really seen much of the course beforehand so it was a bit of a surprise. Yeah a 40k time trial, you know how to pace yourself for that. "

"It's hard to say (where my form is), I've felt about average this last week, so really just here for training and try to get some good racing as well. It's not often that you get a long time trial like this so I think it's really good. Building up for Redlands. After the way I felt this week, I'm pretty happy with today, but I still think I've got a bit to improve so. Go for myself in Redlands or help the team, we've got some good hitters, we've good some good depth this year."

Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis), fifth place
"I was a bit surprised, I'm not like Ben, Rory or any timetrialist. I'm either good or I'm bad. I was good today. As Rory said, it was good training to do a 40km effort where it just against yourself, you can just see where you are with fitness. I'm pretty happy, I could not have gone any quicker."

"I'm pretty pissed off that I'm only three seconds off Blackgrove, that's annoying. Five seconds off Reid, I think I would have been on the podium otherwise, with five seconds. Five seconds, I would have been on the podium, it would have been a beautiful photo." said a laughing Menzies.

In the unofficial and unannounced 'stylin' competition, the winner is blogmeister Michael Hernandez (VOS Racing) with his all white skin suit. But is a white skin before Easter allowed? Coming second, with an honorable mention is Mark Santurbane (California Giant Berry Farms), who finished 11th, with his multicolor shoe covers.

Men's TT Top 10
  1. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) 00:56:25.68
  2. Rory Sutherland (Healthnet/Maxxis) +00:49.12
  3. Jonathan Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) +01:15.47
  4. Heath Blackgrove (Toyota United Pro Cycling Team) +01:17.78
  5. Karl Menzies (HealthNet/Maxxis) +01:20.84
  6. Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light) +01:22.53
  7. Scott Zwizanski (BISSELL Pro Cycling Team) +01:32.18
  8. Michael Grabinger (Successful P/B Parkpre) +01:44.41
  9. Mike Olheiser (Memphis motor werks/Carve) +01:48.82
  10. Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics) +01:54.84
Full results here