Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brabbit impresses at Opus opener

Jens Brabbit, showing off his skiing muscles, for the Opus win

GrandStay Hotels racer Jens Brabbit showed that, at the tender age of 21, he's still growing ever stronger, taking the win in the opening night of the Opus Criterium series in convincing fashion. With five teammates on hand to support his quest for the overall, Brabbit was able to win three of the six contested sprints, including the finale that was worth double points. Brabbit's total of 20 points easily outdistanced the 7 points his nearest competitor managed for second. Of special note is the fact that Brabbit's teammate, Doug Swanson, who has dominated the Opus series for years, put his own aspirations aside in the interest of orchestrating the win for his young teammate (though Swanson was still able to win one sprint in the process and take 4th overall)...a demonstration of the selflessness that has undergirded much of GrandStay Hotels' prior successes. Teammates Dan Swanson and Lance Buening were also able to notch points. A fine showing by the team in the leadup to this weekend's skirmish...the Durand Road Race.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wisconsin training camp complete on cusp of race season

The ten members of the GrandStay Hotels cycling team held their annual training camp in Chetek, WI over the past weekend. Lucking out with great weather conditions, the team put in four good days of training, got to meet with their title sponsors, and continued to foster the tight-knittedness that helps translate to team success on the bike. Just around the corner is the 2010 race season, with the Opus Crit on April 13th and the team's first big challenge, the Durand Road Race, on April 17th. Check back here for results.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brandt tallies first win in 2010

GrandStay Hotels newest member, Gregg Brandt, notched the team's first win of the season, winning the Focus Grand Prix Criterium on March 20th in Gilbert, AZ. Facing off against current professional riders and with no teammates on hand (though he did have an ally in former Minnesotan Eric Marcotte), Brandt put his formidable finishing speed to work and took the win in a field sprint. Down in Arizona for some pre-season training, Brandt will be heading home soon, looking to put his form to the test as the Minnesota race season commences in mid-April.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GrandStay Hotels looking for more of the same in '10

It's a given that the basic goal for any year is to improve, but given the precedent set in the past few seasons, the GrandStay Hotels cycling team couldn't be faulted for seeking the status quo.

Indeed, with all their go-to riders from last season intact and an exciting new face on board, the GrandStay Hotels cycling team looks poised to continue their winning ways in 2010. A relatively small but tight-knit group of ten Minnesota-based riders, GrandStay Hotels should have the firepower necessary to once again chase a 50+ win season, a mark attained both in ’08 and ’09. In terms of success, the team has managed to one-up itself each of its previous five seasons, but no doubt they set the bar high in ’09.

The ’09 season saw GrandStay Hotels not only tally 51 wins and 101 trips to the podium, but also complete a Minnesota State Championships sweep—with team leader Doug Swanson taking the road, criterium, and cyclocross crowns, and Ian Stanford taking his specialty, the time trial, for the 4th straight year. Add to this the team’s successful defense of the Duluth Classic and Tour of Granite Country stage race titles and no less than ten time trial course records and it’s easy to see that the GrandStay Hotels riders have a reputation to uphold.

The team’s season kicks off in early April with a Wisconsin-based training camp, followed closely by a busy race schedule that begins in April and continues unabated until December. The team’s focus will again be events on the Minnesota racing calendar, with quite a few trips for out of state and national level competitions as well.

Here’s a look at the GrandStay Hotels ten-rider roster, nine of whom were on the team last year. The team is excited to welcome a sole-newcomer, Gregg Brandt, a young and talented rider who promises to make the team all the better.

The GrandStay Hotels Cycling Team

Doug Swanson—Cat 1 road/cx; Pro mtn—4th year racing with GrandStay Hotels
Undisputed team leader…22 wins in ’09 (including road, crit and cyclocross state championships; Durand, Ken Woods and Marty road races; Tour of Granite Country overall)…set two TT course records including the Black Dog TT (a course that’s been run for over 25 years)…can manufacture win in any manner, sprint or all day break…showed emphatically that one can be simultaneously a new dad and a cycling force

Dan Swanson—Cat 1 road/cx; Pro mtn—4th year
Nice win at the Northfield Crit—his favorite race of the year…crafty, quick and wise beyond his years…always a threat for the win…one of the team’s field generals and coming into ’10 with a nice head of steam

Andy Minier—Cat 1 road—4th year
Universally respected in the peleton…super domestique…threat in any break…tireless workhorse who doesn’t seem to feel pain, must even like it…sacrifices individual results for the good of the team…if any one deserves a win, it’s him…2nd best arm-wrestler on the team

Ian Stanford—Cat 1 road; Pro mtn—3rd year
Untouchable over 40k time trial at the local level and very competitive on the national level…made the podium in the time trial at both the elite and masters nationals as well as defending state time trial title for 4th straight year…defended title at Duluth Stage Race in dominant style…set 5 time trial course records in ’09…7 wins and 16 podiums in ’09…one of the team’s “old-guard” with a wealth of experience to share

Micah Moran—Cat 1 road/cx—4th year
Always makes the break…especially strong as the summer wears on…performs best in the “big” events…one of team’s field generals who’s effective at directing team tactics on the fly…making big strides in the time trial as well…slated to be first-time father this summer, a fate teammate Doug Swanson has shown bodes well for his palmares

Jens Brabbit—Cat 1 road—2nd year
Made significant gains in ‘09 despite still being very young…impressive win at the Sibley County Road Race against the strongest assembled field of the year…also won the Campus Crit…very strong time-trialer and potent all-arounder…finishing up a successful season of competitive cross country skiing for Gustavus College so look for him to have some good early season form…mature for his age…demonstrates real character…team is glad to have him on board

Gregg Brandt—Cat 1 road—1st year
Very welcome addition to the team…one of team’s youngest guns…a proven power on the road who can do it all—sprint, win out of a break, time trial…along with teammate Jens Brabbit part of a promising new generation of Minnesota-born racers

Lance Beuning—Cat 2 road—6th year
Consummate, selfless teammate…rode some brilliant races in ’09 but his efforts were invisible because he gave everything to help craft a teammate’s win…easy-going personality who’s liked by all and a calming force at big competitions…look for him to get the individual results he deserves in ‘10

Daniel Casper—Cat 1 road/cx—5th year
Partial to the break and the chase…TT specialist with 3 course records in ’09…total of 17 wins and 33 podiums in ’09…got on the podium three times at the ‘09 masters national championships, including winning a national championship in the team pursuit…won ’09 Minnesota Time Trialist of the Year…oldest guy on the team

Matt Williams—Cat 1 road/cx—6th year, team president
President and architect of the GrandStay Hotels cycling team…ever-improving rider in his own right…tireless in all arenas (for instance, he has four kids…and a very understanding wife)…is freakishly strong…team’s best arm-wrestler, by a long shot

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stanford treads hallowed ground at Black Dog

Stanford blurring his surroundings

GrandStay Hotels racer Ian Stanford capped a remarkable weekend by posting a scintillating 13:54 on the Black Dog time trial course as part of the Charity TT. It is important to note that the race start was altered, making the course approximately 6 seconds longer than a normal Black Dog, meaning Stanford's effort was the equivalent of a 13:48, which would be the fastest time ever ridden at Black Dog, a course with a storied and lengthy history. Teammate Daniel Casper recorded a respectable 14:24 for 2nd and Jens Brabbit rolled 14:42 for 5th. With the NVGP qualifier Black Dog coming up this Wednesday, it will be interesting to see what kind of times Stanford and teammate Doug Swanson, who's recorded a 13:50 at Black Dog previously, can roll.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stanford takes Synergy with new course record

Stanford making the wind give in
photo courtesy of http://www.skinnyski.com/

GrandStay Hotels racer Ian Stanford continued to demonstrate that, over a longer time trial distance, he is without peer in the region. On a day where gale force winds made the race hazardous and temps in the high 30's made for discomfort, Stanford showed no ill effects, bettering his course record with a time of 55:04 for the 41.6 kilometers. Teammate Daniel Casper was the only rider within three minutes of Stanford with a 2nd place time of 56:39.

Casper grinding it out in the race's later stages
photo courtesy of http://www.blogger.com/www.skinnyski.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swanson, team obliterate Opus

GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson led the charge of what may have been the most dominating display the team has ever put on at Opus. David Schueller winning the opening sprint on a long breakaway opened the door for Doug Swanson and Micah Moran to craft a three-man break of their own. With a GrandPerformance rider in tow, Moran and Swanson went 1-2 respectively in the next two sprints. As if that wasn't enough, Swanson forged on ahead, keeping a chasing peleton at bay for the rest of the day. Instead of riding defensively in the pack, GrandStay riders repeatedly attacked the peleton, with Jens Brabbit also garnering points. When it was all said and done, Swanson had a massive victory with 26 points while Moran took second with 10 points. In all, GrandStay Hotels took 44 of the 63 points on offer. Next week concludes the 6-week series, with GrandStay Hotels already a lock to take the team title.