First stage of the Tour de Nez - the Reno Crit is in the books. Neo-pro Steven Howard (aka Sven) won the field sprint ahead of Ricardo Escuela (Successful Living) and Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics). Howard is the overall leader in GC, and takes the sprint jersey.

Roman Kilun (Health Net-Maxxis) and Mike Sayers (BMC) tried a move

Bissell squad controlled the race from start to finish

Steven Cozza (Garmin/Chipotle) attacks

Aaron Olson (Bissell) chases

Olson and Cozza together

Last year's overall winner Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) planning his move

Omer Kem (Bissell) crashed in the first half but finished the race

Attentive Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics)

Steven Howard tucked in the field

Candelario attacks with 6 laps to go

Bissell led by Tom Zirbel, organizes the chase

Cozza, head down, digs deep

One lap to go, 10 seconds gap for Candelario

Steven Howard wins, Escuela is second and Wohlberg is third

Steven 'Sven' Howard (Bissell), stage winner
About himself. "It's my first win of the year and it's my first year as a pro so I'm pretty stoked about it. I'm studying history at Calvin College in Grands Rapids, I'll be a senior in the fall."

About the stage. "The plan was just to keep everything safe and make sure that none of the big GC guys would get away from Burke [Swindlehurst] or Tom [Zirbel] and then just keep it together. And if it was together at the end, I'm the best sprinter in the group. We caught Alex just halfway down the backside and then Aaron just kept on going and took me to the last corner and I took it from there. "

About the team's plan. "Zirbel and Burke are our GC guys, so I guess they'll do what they can tomorrow in the time trial and then we'll be riding for them for the rest of the week."

Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit/Medifast)
About his attack with 6 laps to go. "I kind of misjudged the distance, and our team plan was to get some time on the other GC guys and just kind of mix things up in the last half of the race . Obviously, it didn't work out too well, so I ended up getting caught in the last lap."

Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics), third on the stage
About Tour de Nez. "I used to do this when it was just a one day criterium, I know the race organizer Tim Healion actually, he's a really cool guy, a big fan of Canadians, he's always been a big fan of Clara Hughes and I started coming up here, and doing his race so I'm happy to be back. I've never done this as a stage race before so I'm interested in it."

About the stage. "I was kind of surprised, it was a fast little course, a fair bit of wind, crosswind at the start/finish, a couple of guys falling here and there but it wasn't the best but I don't think that anyone got hurt - I hope. Bissell was controlling all race long and all of a sudden they just ... Candelario attacked with 5 to go or 6 I think, and they just let him get away and I thought 'oh jeez, Alex is just going to pull this thing off but he just went a little bit too early because it was so windy out there, they just barely caught him, good effort by Alex. I'm not the best in a field sprint, I just trying to hold my position the best I could. I was probably fifth or sixth through this last corner and then just kept on pedaling and got around a few other guys. Bissell did the last lap as a leadout. Cozza attacked with probably two to go and that's what really brought Alex back for the most part, Olson right out there sprinting in the last lap.

About his legs. "I feel good, we'll see what the hill is like tomorrow. Northstar is a little bit higher and I think the next couple of days is going to favor some of the altitude boys here."

The action continues on Thursday, June 19th with two stages. In the morning is the 3.5-mile (5.6 km) Northstar-at-Tahoe Time Trial that is all uphill with a 7% grade. No time trial bikes are permitted for the time trial.

All photos copyright Lyne Lamoureux