Defending team, the Successful Living p/b Parkpre team stacked the deck by putting three man in an four-man breakaway. Their designated sprinter for that day, JR Grabinger won the the Sea Otter NRC Circuit Race, his teammate Brian Jensen took second and Rock Racing's David Clinger survived the 3-on-1 sprint to take third place.


Grabinger takes the sprint ahead of Jensen and Clinger; Photos c. Lyne Lamoureux

The four men in the breakaway, the three Successful Living riders, Grabinger, Jensen and Brad White worked well with solo Clinger to create an unsurmountable gap and lap the field.

"We were worried about him, he was riding really strong today, we had talked a few scenarios over and Steve was talking to us on the radio, I guess when it came down to it we had the confidence to do a leadout at the end and pull out a win, that's what we did." said Grabinger.

"I've been in the situation a lot of times with 3 or 4 guys and you're the only one from your team. Basically all I could have done is follow then if they start attacking but they were so confident that they were going to win the sprint, they could box me in, put me in the barriers, they just set tempo to the line. I told them that I wasn't going be too aggressive, if they kept if to the line, I was going to sprint it out with them." said Clinger.

At the beginning of the year, Successful Living's Team Directeur Steve Hegg stated that the goal for the year as "a top 3 NRC team by the end of the season". The team has been trying hard to deliver on NRC points, and didn't let the cold temperature and high gusty winds stop them at the third race in the NRC Calendar.

"I haven't talked to him but must be pretty psyched, he's wanted a win this year and we've been trying really hard to get it for him so we're all real excited." said Grabinger about Hegg's feeling after the race.


Four man break: David Clinger (Rock Racing), and teammates Brian Jensen, Brad White and JR Grabinger; Photos c. Lyne Lamoureux

Over 120 riders lined up in cold and howling winds to race the 71 miles on the Laguna Seca raceway where each of the 31 laps included a steep 300 feet climb followed by the corkscrew with a swift descent back to the start/finish line.

Everyone was expecting the Successful Living team to be one of the aggressors in the race, and they didn't wait to deliver the goods. There were a flurry of attacks early in the race, with Jonny Sundt (kelly Benefit/Medifast) and White jumping on his wheel for a short break.

"The Kelly rider went and I followed and then no one chased and the two of us rolled away and were going pretty good . He was suffering pretty, I was feeling pretty good so I knew that when we got caught I had the legs to go again, I was feeling pretty good today." said White.

Ass soon as the duo was caught, it was Jensen's turn who went on a solo attack. White along with another rider, who would ultimately be dropped, managed to bridge to his teammate. An attentive Clinger started to chase, and Grabinger jumped on his wheel, and a four-man break was created.


Successful Living riders attack; Clinger chases with Grabinger on his wheel; Photos c. Lyne Lamoureux

"Clinger came across in the crosswinds right at the bottom of the corkscrew and I just rode his wheel. I didn't even know that we had a gap on the field until we were almost close to the finish line, at that point I looked up and realized that we were almost ready to catch Brian and Brad, my two teammates and we were a four man group." said Grabinger.

The break worked well together after a few early aggressive moves by the Successful Living trio to try and get rid of Clinger.

"I put it a big effort to get to them and one guy was sitting on my wheel, right when I got to them, that guy kind of sped up, made a little attack and that was the only time they really made an aggressive move. After that, I rolled through really lightly, and told them that if everybody didn't work... at first they wanted one guy to sit on and they wanted me to roll though, and I said if he doesn't work, then I can't work, so everybody started rolling through, we took one lap (on the
field)." said Clinger when asked if the trio tried any aggressive moves.

Under the impetus on multiple attacks, the field shattered behind the break into multiple groups, with two small chase groups including Health Net-Maxxis, Kelly Benefit/Medifast, Colavita/Sutter Home and Dan Ramsey, last year's winner now riding for Time Pro Cycling Team.

But the gap kept on growing, and disharmony was evident in the chase groups.

"There is always strength in numbers out there and we had the numbers, we were all going pretty strong, he (Clinger) wasn't pulling through a whole lot, he was pulling through but pretty soft, we wanted to keep the pace going. Us three are pretty good timetrialers, being off the front was a good position for us to be in with this wind that was the place to be." said White.

Coming in the final laps, the four-man break lapped the field twice, and the two chase groups combined and waited for the sprint for fifth place. Behind them, was the field, just happy to get to the finish line, The conditions were such that only forty-seven riders finished the race.

On the final climb on the last lap, the designated sprinter for today, Grabinger stopped pulling and he settled in behind his two teammates, with White as the first leadout.

"When we got to the last few corners, Brad picked it up, and Brian with the last two hundred meters to go, took off, I tried to stay in his draft and came around in the last seconds." described Grabinger.

Health Net-Maxxis' John Murphy took the sprint for fifth place.

"At the top of the climb, Manion of Toyota attacked, Borrajo followed, I jumped with it down the descent, the corkscrew. As soon as the headwind hit, they both kind of sat up because Borrajo didn't want to work, so I just attacked and I got across to the two guys dangling off the front and I just beat him to the sprint." said the 23-year old Murphy.


Sea Otter NRC Circuit Race Podium (l-r): Brian Jensen, JR Grabinger (Successful Living), David Clinger (Rock Racing); Photos c. Lyne Lamoureux

Good day at the office. Successful Living rides away with the win, 4 riders in the top 5, Grabinger gets the yellow jersey and White collected the Points and KOM jersey.

Tidbits. The wind was extremely strong, headwind in the corkscrew, crosswinds in the descent back to start/finish, and dust flying everywhere.

"It was incredibly windy today. Last year I did this race coming down the corkscrew was extremely fast, today we actually had to pedal down the corkscrew because the headwind was so strong, we were pulling through." said Grabinger about the wind.

So strong in fact, that it blew the inflatable kids' amusement bouncing ball almost out on course. "The big floatie thing almost blew into the course. We saw it, it was a huge dust cloud, we didn't know what was going on. All of sudden, I see this balloon thing, blow up thing, I didn't know what was going on, we just tried not to hit it, it was exciting." said Murphy.

Who said that being a pro-cycling was a glamorous life? Health Net-Maxxis Rory Sutherland and Kirk O'Bee along with DS Mike Tamayo were taking the red-eye out to Georgia to be present at the Sunday press conference.

Top 10 Results
1 Michael Grabinger Jr (Successful Living Pro) 02:52:51.10
2 Brian Jensen (Successful Living Pro) 02:52:51.20
3 David Clinger (Rock Racing) 02:52:51.20
4 Bradley White (Successful Living Pro) 02:52:53.00
5 John Murphy (Health Net)
6 Anibal Borrajo (Colavita Olive Oil/Sutterhome)
7 Evan Oliphant (Plowman Craven)
8 Alejandro Borrajo (Colavita Olive Oil/Sutterhome)
9 Sid Taberlay (Hobart Wheelers)
10 Alessandro Bazzana (Successful Living Pro)

More photos here