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

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

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.

Casper just short at TNT

GrandStay Hotels racer Daniel Casper rode a strong race at the season's first TNT time trial, but suffered narrow defeat at the hands of Gear West teammates Curt Wood and David Thompson, both of whom are noted time trialists. On an evening beset with torrential rain and howling crosswinds, Casper completed the 11+ mile course in 23:42, 10 seconds shy of Wood and just 1 second in arrears of Thompson. Casper will get numerous shots at redemption as the series is contested every other Tuesday throughout the summer.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Brabbit victorious over strong field at Sibley

GrandStay Hotels racer Jens Brabbit, crafty beyond his 21 years of age, inserted himself into a power-packed break of seven riders just a few miles into the 70-mile Sibley Road Race. While Brabbit played a major role in keeping the break clear of a star-studded peleton, he still had enough left to come first on the hilltop finish--arguably the biggest victory of a young career. While Brabbit toiled in the break, his teammates, trusting he was good for the victory, policed the peleton and shut down numerous attacks by dangerous riders of the likes of Selandar, Bergman, and Lemieux. Teammate Doug Swanson took the bunch sprint convincingly. In the Elite Masters/35+ race, Ray Coyle demonstrated a continuing return to winning form with a close 2nd while Steve Cragle surprised with heretofore undemonstrated climbing prowess for 4th. The team shifts gears away from road races in the coming weeks, looking instead to crits and time trials, especially the Black Dog TT on June 20th which is the second leg of the Nature Valley Grand Prix qualifier and promises to be a real barn-burner.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Casper takes first Black Dog TT of '09

GrandStay Hotels racer Daniel Casper won the first Black Dog Time Trial of the season with a solid early season mark of 14:25. Teammate Micah Moran continued to show good early season form with a 14:58 for 4th overall. The next Black Dog in two weeks will be a Nature Valley Grand Prix qualifier and promises to be a star-studded night.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swanson, team back on top at Opus

GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson got things back on track at Opus with his 3rd win of the season against an impressive field. In fact, Swanson and five teammates pretty much dominated the night, taking 4 of the night's 6 sprints. Swanson won two sprints, including the finish for double points; while Lance Buening, who's really refound his legs, and Jens Brabbit, who's aggressive style continues to impress, each took a sprint as well. The tireless set-up work of Matt Williams and Andy Minier played a large part in the team's success on the night.

Casper opens TT season with a win

GrandStay Hotels racer Daniel Casper got the time trial season started on the right foot with a win at the first Withrow Ride and Glide TT of the year. On a blustery day, Casper stopped the clock at 28:56, a time within hailing distance of the record for the 13.4 mile, rolling-hilled course.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swanson scorches to Marty Road Race win

With a tailwind at his back in the finishing straight, GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson put paid to his teammates hard work with a scorching sprint win at the Marty Road Race on Saturday. A stacked field of 50 riders showed up to contest not only the race, but also to score points towards a place in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, a professional stage race which comes to town in June and reserves a select 12 spots for local elite riders. With a relatively strong wind out of the west and a predominantly north-south race course, crosswinds were the order of the day. GrandStay Hotels spent a good deal of time on the front, using an eschelon-formation to protect one another and put pressure on the rest of the peleton. The peleton was up to the challenge and the team had to put everyone to the task of pulling back breaks and setting up Swanson for his victory. In addition to Swanson's win, teammates Jens Brabbit, Micah Moran and Dave Schueller took 8th, 10th, and 13th respectively. Together these places give the team 283 points towards the Nature Valley Grand Prix qualifying. Flanders rode a cagey race and is currently the top point getter with 318 while GrandPerformance sits 3rd with 155 point. The qualifying series travels next to the Black Dog Time Trial on May 20th, where no doubt Doug Swanson will be eyeing the 13:49 course record that he missed by just a second last year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No cigar at Opus, for once

For the first time in '09 GrandStay Hotels missed out on victory. On a spirited night at Opus, Doug Swanson came oh so close but had to settle for 2nd by a mere point. Teammate Dave Schueller showed his rapidly developing speed with a sprint win and a tie for 3rd on the night. The team is building a commanding lead in the series long team points competition.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brabbit endures abysmal weather for Campus Crit win

Brabbit off the front, attacking a wet corner
GrandStay Hotels racer Jens Brabbit got his first win of the season at the Campus Criterium on Sunday. Thanks to truly horrendous conditions (low 40's, persistent rain), Brabbit and teammate Micah Moran were part of a small but select group of hardy racers who braved the technical, rain-slickened course around the U of MN campus. Brabbit took the win with a mid-race attack that he crafted into a solo effort all the way to the line while Moran was able to sprint for the final/3rd podium spot.

Moran sprinting for 3rd

Thanks to and Andy Frye for the photos. For more Campus Crit photos and a write up of the action, go to

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Swanson 6-peats at Ken Woods

GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson won the Ken Woods Memorial Road Race for the 6th consecutive year and remained undefeated in '09 with his 4th win of the season. The team rode exceptionally well, controlling the front of the peleton for much of the race's 84 miles and bringing back attacks as necessary. Leading into the final 21-mile lap new teammember Jens Brabbit set a peleton-breaking tempo on the big climb and followed that effort with some stinging attacks of his own. Thanks to Brabbit's efforts, teammate Dan Casper was able to sneak away on a solo break and, with 7 miles remaining, was joined by Swanson and Mike Woell from Flanders. With Swanson driving the tempo, the three stayed away from the peleton by a comfortable margin and Swanson sprinted for the win by a comfortable margin. Casper managed 3rd. Ian Stanford worked tirelessly at the front all day and was still able to pull off 6th while Lance Buening also found the top ten. Up next...the Opus Crit and TNT Time Trial on Tuesday and then, next Saturday, the team hosts the Gluek Road Race--a Nature Valley Grand Prix qualifying race which promises a stacked field.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Team shows well at Opus again

GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson let the suspense build for much of the second installment of the Opus Criterium Series on Tuesday evening. With only two of six points sprints remaining in the race, Swanson hadn't scored a point. Instead, he'd been letting his teammates take a crack at earning points of their own, which three of them...Micah Moran, Dan Swanson, and Matt Williams...did. But with the overall win on the line, Doug Swanson got greedy and took the last two sprints...the finale worth take his third straight win of the '09 season in as many tries. Up next on Saturday, April 24th is the Ken Woods Road Race where Doug Swanson is the defending champion.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Swanson again at Durand

GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson kept the Durand Road Race title in the family, taking the '09 victory with a dominant final sprint. Doug's brother and teammate Dan took the title in '08. Unusually beautiful weather brought out a peleton of over 70 riders from across the region. With numerous teams represented and a who's who of area talent, this looked to be a difficult race to control. However, GrandStay Hotels riders stayed vigilant at the front, worked to keep Swanson protected (when he wasn't testing the peleton with an occasional viscious attack), and in the race's decisive final lap, were able to exert an impressive degree of control. Particularly notable was Ian Stanford, who was a workhorse throughout the day and was still able to manage a scorching final leadout for Swanson, who obliged with a comfortable multi-bike length victory. Also notable was a resurgent Lance Beuning, who sacrificed himself at the front for much of the last lap and was still able to manage a competitive finish in a frenetic finale.

For video of Swanson's winning sprint go to the following link (teammate Steve Cragle's blog)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's deja vu for Swanson at Opus Criterium

GrandStay Hotels racer Doug Swanson started '09 on the right foot, with a convincing win over a strong field at the first Opus Crit of the season. Moving the finish further down the hill didn't seem to blunt Swanson's devastating sprint. The team was well-represented on a night where the high average speed and host of new faces promised an intense '09 racing season to come.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

GrandStay Hotels gearing up for a hard-fought ’09 cycling season

Entering its 5th year, the GrandStay Hotels cycling team eagerly anticipates an intensely competitive ’09 season. From the look of things, many local teams have bolstered their lineups, no doubt with GrandStay Hotels in their sights. The team looks forward to spirited encounters throughout the spring, summer and fall.

For the record, the ’08 season was GrandStay Hotels’ most successful to date. The team followed up 48 wins in ’07 with 50 more in ’08 and added a total of 105 trips to the podium. These results include the State Road Championship in both the Pro/1/2 and 35+ categories, the State Time Trial Championship in the Pro/1/2, overall wins in the state’s two stage races—the Duluth Classic Stage Race and the Tour of Granite Country—and 6 course records at time trials throughout the region.

With an all-Minnesotan roster of 10 Pro/1/2 riders and 4 elite masters 35+ riders, the team is largely intact from ’08, with Doug Swanson still the team’s peerless leader and very un-secret weapon. Team president Matt Williams has brought on two young guns, Jens Brabbit and David Schueller, both of whom have already demonstrated great potential. The team is glad to have them in the fold.

In 2009, the team will remain focused on the Minnesota racing calendar, with occasional trips out of state. The season kicks off with a Wisconsin-based training camp in early April and the racing gets under way in mid-April with the Opus Criterium Tuesday night series and the Durand, Ken Woods, and Gluek road races on successive weekends. The team will host the Gluek Road Race and the Minnesota State Criterium Championships, as well as having a hand in the Porkchop Challenge Cyclocross race.

Here’s a brief look at the GrandStay Hotels roster:

Pro/1/2 Team

Doug Swanson—Cat 1 road/cx; Pro mtn
Undisputed team leader; 17 wins (including State Road Race Championship, Ken Woods RR, Tour of Granite Country overall) in ‘08; also set two TT course records in ’08; dipped under the mythical 14 minute barrier at Black Dog for the second time; can manufacture win in any manner; in first and only venture on the velodrome scorched the fastest 3K pursuit seen on the track in many years; despite his freakish abilities is humble and very likeable, someone his teammates are more than happy to work for.

Dan Swanson—Cat 1 road/cx; Pro mtn
State Criterium champion in ’06 and a close 2nd in ’07 and ’08—has the date marked on the ’09 calendar; crafty, quick and wise beyond years; had an awesome victory at the Durand Road Race in which he escaped the peleton in the first mile and outfoxed his strong breakaway companion with what was voted the best bike throw of the ’08 season.

Andy Minier—Cat 1 road
Universally respected in the peleton; super domestique; threat in any break; tireless workhorse; doesn’t seem to feel pain or at very least must enjoy it; sacrifices individual results for the good of the team.

Ian Stanford—Cat 1 road/cx; Pro mtn
Untouchable over 40k TT at the local level and competitive on the national level—has annihilated MN state TT champ field last three years; set two TT course records in ’08 and took the overall victory in the Duluth Classic Stage Race; old enough to race 35+ but too fast to consider it; an ideal final leadout for Doug Swanson; willing to put his immense talent to work for the good of the team.

Micah Moran—Cat 1 road/cx
Always makes the break; especially strong as the summer wears on; performs best in the “big” events; intelligent racer effective at directing team tactics on the fly.

Jens Brabbit—Cat 1 road
New addition, and team’s youngest member; shows great potential and already has many fine results to his name; very strong time trialist and a potent all-arounder; mature for his age, demonstrates real character.

Lance Beuning—Cat 2 road/cx
Still young; ’08 showed signs of a return to form; worked hard for the team cause; may surprise some people in ’09; when full strength he’s a force to be reckoned with, especially in cyclocross.

David Schueller—Cat 2 road
A welcome new face on the team; moved rapidly through the ranks in ’08; spent the last portion of the season with the 1/2’s and showed he more than belonged; strong engine and impressive finish; can be found racing the velodrome in ’09 as well, possibly as a madison partner with teammate Casper.

Daniel Casper—Cat 1 road/cx
Partial to the break and the chase; TT specialist; 13 wins in ’08 with two TT course records including the first sub 15 minute Black Dog TT on a stock bike; 35+ MN State CX champ; took up track racing in ’08 and will be back on the velodrome in ’09; old enough to race 35+, may do some double duty.

Matt Williams—Cat 1 road/cx
President and architect of the GrandStay Hotels cycling team; ever-improving rider in his own right; tireless in all arenas; got his first, well-deserved road victory at the Chris Kerr Road Race in ’08; also eligible for 35+, may play his hand there on occasion, though '09 will probably see Matt cut back on his racing to spend more time with his four children.

Elite Master 35+ Team

Charles Jacobs—Cat 2 road/cx
Nearly untouchable when “on;” started ’08 on a roll, taking the overall at the Duluth Classic Stage Race in convincing fashion; serious injury from a race accident in early June derailed the remainder of his season; still managed to come back in early September to team with Steve Cragle to win the 35+ two-man TT state championships.

Jim Bell—Cat 2 road/cx
The ultimate in selfless; power machine; threat to stay away whenever up the road; won the Circuit Race at the ’08 Tour of Granite Country and was 45+ State Champion in Cyclocross; he and Ray Coyle make a formidable one-two punch; all-around great guy and team’s race organizer.

Steve Cragle—Cat 2 road
Astounded in 2007 with impressive results but was out majority of ’08 due to injury; true sprinter’s speed with range; teamed up with Charles Jacobs to win the 35+ State Two-man TT Championship; expect a strong ’09 from him.

Ray Coyle—Cat 2 road
Former accomplished wrestler who’s correspondingly tough and tenacious on the bike; long-range strength coupled with solid sprint; always in the hunt at the finish with 9 trips to the podium in ’09 and some big wins, including the 35+ State Road Race Championship and the 35+ overall in the Tour of Granite Country Stage Race.