The 13th edition of the Tour de Murrieta would once again prove itself unkind to the Pacific Premier Bank Cycling Team. Ever since the team first participated back in 2014, when most of the rostered riders were racing in the lower categories, trouble has seemed to find the boys in one way or another.
Just a few short years back, the team entered the final day of the event with rider Hector Sandoval just a few points back from the final podium. With less than 1 kilometer remaining all hopes were dashed when Sandoval, smartly positioned at the front of the group, hit the deck hard breaking his collarbone in the fall. The previous year, several of the team’s riders were held up as they narrowly missed a pile-up just a few hundred meters from where Sandoval would fall 12 months later.
As the team lined up Saturday in a steady mist of rain, expectations were high given that this year one of the riders donning the curvy “P” on his chest, Enrique Aldapa, was a past winner of the final stage and multiple top 5 stage finisher. With Aldapa also coming off a 2nd place finish just a few weeks back at the final stage of the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix, it seemed this would finally be the team’s year for redemption.
Once again dreams of glory were smashed as Aldapa and teammate John Garbo were caught up in a 15 rider pile-up with just two laps remaining in the fast paced 75 minute downtown criterium.
Although the sun would come out for Sunday’s 56 mile circuit race, the team’s fate was sealed just a few laps into the 16 lap affair when 4 of the team’s 5 riders would puncture out of the race. Raul Arias, who had started but failed to finish the stage a day earlier, had not taken the start due to illness.
The team’s solo finisher of the two-day omnium would be Rex Roberts, who salvaged 20th place overall by virtue of two consistent finishes. With his result, Roberts claimed what is arguably the best showing the team has had in it’s 5 year history at the event.