DBC Elite Race Team Shines at Valley of the Sun
The Valley of the Sun stage race is a three-day event in which professional and amateur cyclists of different categories over three days of racing consisting of a time trial, a road race and a criterium.
2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the VOS and saw Greg and Russell White compete in the Men’s Elite 2 category and Jeff Slaton in the Men’s Elite 4 category.
Opening the racing February 10th with an out and back TT, the wind was changing throughout the day from a cross-tail on the out leg and a cross-head on the way back to a tailwind on the out leg and headwind back. This hurt the Whites a bit as they started later among the 84 starters in the Elite 2 race. Despite this, Russ finished with the 7th fastest time of the day 1:16 down on the leader and Greg was still in the hunt 7 seconds further back and tied for 10th. In the Elite 4 race, Jeff Slayton finished a respectable 30th out of 97 starters.
Day 2 of racing was the circuit road race that was marred by a bad crash in the Pro/1 race which caused every field to get stopped for more than 45 minutes at the start line. As a result, the Elite 2 race was shortened by a lap and one of the time bonus sprints was eliminated. Russ and Greg just wanted to survive the hilly road race and protect there GC positions. There were a few breaks with the most dangerous one getting a gap of a minute or so; but there were some teams that worked to bring it back together hoping for a field sprint. On the next to last time up the 5 minute hill, the bunch slowed a bit and the rider in front of Greg ended up off the road and in the weeds causing him to hit a missing chunk of pavement and unclipping. A good deal of speed was lost and Greg had to work hard to close the 20-meter gap that had developed.
Greg wrote, “In the last 3 km I just wanted to get same time and Russ was right behind me with the same plan. I was able to get on a group of guys moving forward while staying sheltered from the wind. I suddenly found myself in the top 20 and not really cramping in the last km. At 200 meters to go I started to sprint and it opened up in front of me.”
Indeed, Greg finished 6th in the Road Race with Russ coming in 39th with the same time and maintaining their GC positions heading into the final stage; a 55 minute criterium in downtown Phoenix. Jeff Slayton finished 28th in the Elite 4 road race and moved up to 28th in the GC standings.
The criterium course had changed from previous years and the new course was pretty rough with some holes and cracks that claimed a few carbon rims throughout the day. The eight-turn circuit was unique in that there was one road with a barrier down the middle and racers going in opposite directions. In the Elite 4 race Slayton finished 24th and moved up to 22nd in the final Elite 4 GC standings.
In the Elite 2 race, there were a few time bonuses for the finish that could help Russ and Greg leap up on GC. The race was uneventful until 5 laps to go when a rider’s wheel popped out of the dropout and he started skidding sideways. Luckily he kept it upright and no one went down. In the final laps there was a little break of three off the front. With 2 laps to go a group of 5 bridged across and the field was close behind. At the bell, a Team Specialized Junior in the break attacked after turn one. He was caught and the winner countered with a km to go and held on narrowly over the charging field sprint. Greg and Russ did not lose any time finishing 16th and 38th in the criterium, respectively. In the final GC standings Russ White finished 7th and Greg White 11th, each earning 9 points toward a Category 1 upgrade.