Truckee a historically rich mountain town on the edge of California lies a few miles Northwest of Lake Tahoe. Upon arriving in this small spot on the map, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we were just in time to enjoy watching a Pro-Cycling criterium that would ride right through the center of town. Our purpose for being in town was intended to be a scenic cycle-tour around Lake Tahoe. The trip would be the following day although, this itinerary was in jeopardy due to current cold conditions and the forecast of snow (in June no less).
At 5:45pm that evening the starting gun went off despite the wintery mix of mostly rain and some snow. The competitors in the race would have to contend with chill temps, 30 mph wind gusts, and slick road surfaces, as well the usual attacks and the high speeds that are such an integral part of criteriums.
There was an immediate break, Scott Moninger of Health Net/Maxxis made a big leap to command the race. Charging to the front, Scott routed the field and led by himself. 50-60 yards separated him from his nearest competitor, a substantial lead in a crit. Still, the distance was slowly growing and it didn't look like the gap could be closed. A murmur had broken out amongst the crowd questioning whether the breakaway could hold. The concensus was that there was no way that such a lead would be maintained in these brutal conditions. Everyone was certain that Moninger would fall prey to the cold and the competitive intensity, the roadside experts were sure he would be gobbled up by the peloton. No one could maintain such a lead this early in the game.
Forty five minutes later the crowd watched, incredulously, as Moninger continued to grow his lead, preparing to lap the main group. It seemed as though his lead was bulletproof and his strategy was to blowout his competitors, dealing them a psychological blow in this early season lead up race. The Tour de Truckee stood as the warmup to a 108 mile road race in the mountains the following day and another criterium in Reno that Saturday.
Fifty Five minutes into the sixty minute race, Moninger proved his strength by lapping the peloton just as a five man breakaway began to vie for second and third places. The race for the runners-up exploded in the final laps. The outcome seemed a foregone conclusion at this point. The leader would need only to pedal it in to take a commanding first place. To the surprise of the early expert harbingers of doom, he held his early lead only to hammer a first place finish for his team, Health Net/Maxxis.