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Owens Seals Victory in Selma
The Selma Criterium, the third and final event of the San Joaquin Omnium, was masterfully captured by Vincent “Vinnie” Owens (Sierra Pacific Racing p/b Dayka & Hackett) Sept. 9, after he rode away from the main group midrace in pursuit of his two main rivals of the weekend. Owens was a main protagonist all weekend as he finished 2nd to Tyler Williams (Team Swift) in the Yokohl Valley Time Trial on Saturday morning, and made the race winning move that lapped the field at the Exeter Criterium Saturday night with Christian Varley (B&L Bikes) who just managed to hand Owens his second 2nd place in one day.
Sunday’s late afternoon start time meant a very hot race for sure, and the action got started right away. Owens made several moves in the opening minutes to put a break up the road, but his efforts looked to be for naught when his third attempt was countered by Tyler Williams. The young man from Shafter, who had the fastest time trial the day before, quickly drew out an eight second gap as the fatigue of the early attack, chase, and repeat cycle began to raise questions among the racers behind as to just how hard the group was going to ride.
Sensing an opportunity, Christian Varley jumped out of the main group on the next lap and rode across the gap solo. When he reached Williams they immediately began to collaborate and the gap went to 30 seconds in a flash.
The move looked good and it looked to be gone, but the group behind woke up and it was all business and single file as Owens along with a few others took up the chase and did what they could to limit their losses to the two riders ahead.
Up the road it was full steam as Williams and Varley were communicating well and doing what they needed to do continue to open the gap. When they had around a one minute lead they seemed certain to lap the field, and there was a lull behind in the chase group and a wary Owens quickly jumped out solo to make his own destiny. He was closely matched by several strong riders (including Olympic sprinter Jimmy Watkins just back from London and out to support the local scene) but Owens persisted and after two laps of dangling a few bike lengths off the front of the razor-thin front of affairs the elastic snapped. It was the decisive moment and Owens put it all on the line to make the race his own.
The group looked around and got organized again but it was too late and Owens was off to fight for every scrap of seconds that he could manage, while his two main rivals began to see the back of the peloton in the longer straightaways. With about 20 miles remaining it was a long haul for sure but Owens looked determined and he never seemed to slow.
A few circuits later the leaders lapped the field and took a short rest in the slower group they had just overtaken which gave “Vinnie” the chance he needed to start to run them down. The two leaders must have realized what was happening as they both went to the front of the main group and made every effort they could to keep the pace as high as it had been in their break. But Owens was determined, the local fans all seemed to know his name, and he was able to make it all the way around and lap the field with just a few miles left to race. In the final sprint Owens was clearly the fastest of the three in contention and he took a very hard earned criterium win and sealed his Omnium Victory as well.