Zirbel wins Meijer Grand Cycling Classic

Grand Rapids, MI - Tom Zirbel didn't disappoint his Bissell sponsors hometown fans of Grand Rapids, MI, as he wins his first race after becoming the number one ranked rider on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC). Zirbel attacked his breakaway companion, former teammate Jake Rytiewski of Kenda Tire, with 1½ laps to go to claim the victory on the Meijer Grand Cycling Classic's historic red bricks.

Zirbel and Rytiewski got away from the field about half-way into the 60 lap race. A few teams tried to cover the break, including Subway-Avanti and Priority Health West, but Kenda and Bissell kept those moves in check, liking their chances with the Zirbel/Rytiewski pair up the road. The two kept a pretty steady 17 second gap, and then with a lap and a half to go, Zirbel made his move.

"Jake's a fantastic sprinter," Ziebel said of Rytiewski." I was not comfortable going to the line with him in a two-man sprint, so I knew I had to try to get away from him. "

Zirbel opened up his gap on the finishing straight of the final lap, and had a comfortable lead 1km later at the line. Rytiewski left nothing in the tank, doing the lions share of the work in the break. He was rewarded with the Bissell Most Aggressive Rider Award (a Bissell SpotBot Pet).

For his efforts, Zirbel was able to take home a Herman Miller Embody chair. A well deserved, comfortable place to sit after a long day in the saddle on a rough road. And, most importantly, Zirbel took home the winners trophy, which is a piece of Grand Rapids: an actual red brick from the city streets. The brick represents the foundation of the City of Grand Rapids and it's citizens, symbolic of their solid work ethic, strength in character and tradition of giving. The Brick is mounted on a redwood base, also a local product: a piece of re-claimed wood that was once a barrel from the H. J. Heinz Pickle factory. The Holland, MI plant has been in continuous operation since 1897.

Hayden Godfrey of the Subway-Avanti team took the field spring for third place.

In the Herman Miller women's race, McKenzie Woodring of the Priority Health West team, won in a small field sprint in the women's race. Woddring is a local talent from Cedar Springs, MI, and a multi-medal winner at the 2008 Paralympics. She also picked up a brick trophy and a Herman Miller Embody chair.

Arlington Sports, the promoting organization, met with severe weather during the morning set-up. Heavy rain, winds and thunder/lighting welcomed the crew during the early morning set-up. The weather was so severe that the Millennium Triathlon taking place across town was canceled. Set-up continued after a short break when heavy rain was joined with lighting. However, the crew finished set-up, and was able to start the racing only 5 minutes late. The rest of the day ran on time. The skies cleared prior to the Amway One-by-One kids race, which saw nearly 200 kids test their legs on the downtown brick roads. The Men's pro began under partly cloudy skies with a few drops coming down just as the pros began their race. However, the streets remained dry the rest of the day, and the men's pro race was run under clear skies (with the brief passing of a large dark cloud that passed well south of the event).

Photo courtesy of Team Bissell