Rock Racing’s Bahati pulls off Manhattan Beach three-peat
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Rock Racing’s Bahati pulls off Manhattan Beach three-peat

by VeloNation Press at 6:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
If he keeps this up, the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix is going to have to be renamed the “Rahsaan Bahati Grand Prix.”

Rock Racing’s star sprinter won the 48th edition of the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix Sunday for the third consecutive year. It was his ninth win of the season and Rock Racing’s 24th victory on the year.

“I wasn’t feeling any pressure to win here again,” Bahati said. “It was just coming from my friends and peers – not from the guys on the team. It was just like another race to me.”

Bahati, the 27-year-old U.S. professional criterium champion, convincingly swept across the line at the end of the 80-minute race at Live Oak Park ahead of runner-up Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light) and the reigning U.S. elite criterium champion, Ken Hanson (Team Type 1).

Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball was among the several thousand fans lining the 1.4-mile (2.2 km) hot dog-shaped course that borders the Pacific Ocean. That made the victory even sweeter, Bahati said.

“I’m glad he was there to witness another big win for the team,” Bahati said. “This shows that I care about my job and I’m glad I have a job. For me, I only wanted to show that Rock Racing competes a team, unselfishly. We have to show him we can succeed and give a sponsor its due.”

Last year, Bahati beat out Ricardo Escuela and Brad Huff. In 2007, the rider he beat here to take his first win – Ivan Dominguez – was helping lead him out in the final laps.

“Ivan adds another dimension to this team,” Bahati said of the Rock racing’s acquisition earlier this month of the accomplished Cuban-American sprinter. “He said ‘Follow me and I’ll take you to the Promised Land.’ So I did.”

But it wasn’t an entirely smooth ride in the final 200 meters when Team Type 1’s Aldo Ino Ilesic and teammate Ken Hanson tried to spoil the celebration by roaring past the Rock Racing lead-out train.

“We had Nic (Sanderson), Caleb (Manion), Sergio (Hernandez) and all the boys on the front and basically got jumped by Team Type 1,” Bahati said. “So I got on Hanson’s wheel and made sure I was third through the last corner. From there, I knew I had it.”

The only downside of Sunday’s race was a crash by Rock Racing’s Justin Williams. The U.S. Under-23 national criterium champion went down with two laps to go and lost a few teeth in a jarring collision with the pavement.

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