There were no big surprises when it came to the overall winners at this year’s 58th Annual Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. Former winners Cory Williams and Coryn Rivera won the men’s and women’s pro races respectively, but a couple local riders ended the day on a positive note when it was all finished.
This year’s event also was sanctioned as the Southern California/Nevada Cycling Association District Criterium Championships, so the winners were also state champions.
Diego Binatena, 23, of Manhattan Beach was part of Williams’ Legion Los Angeles winning team and Emily Georgeson Wimberley, 37, of Redondo Beach finished second behind Rivera in the women’s pro race.
Williams, 26, of Pomona who rides for the successful first-year team of Legion Los Angeles sprinted down the stretch to win his second Manhattan Beach Grand Prix Men’s Pro 1/2 race over Robin Carpenter, 27, of San Diego and Ryan Jastrap, 19, of Apple Valley. He won a check for $1,680.
It is his second win in three years. His brother Justin, who finished fifth, was the defending champion.
“It feels great,” Cory Williams said. “We always come out here and we help each other. Whoever is tooling the best on the day is who gets the win.”
Rivera of Newport Beach, already a legend at 27, won back-to-back Women’s Pro 1/2/3 races in a dominating victory.
Two local riders in the pro races
Although there were hardly any local riders in the pro races, the two who did compete had successful days.
Diego Binatena of Manhattan Beach was part of Cory Williams winning team and at 23 years of age is in his prime. He enjoyed the team victory.
“Diego is awesome,” Cory Williams said. “He is the class clown on the team and he always makes us laugh and he always gets the job done. I’m really happy we have him on the team and I can’t wait to help him get to a higher level.”
Binatena is on Legion Los Angeles team in its first year. He raced with a different team last year.
“I’m looking to many more years on this team,” Binatena said.
He attended Mira Costa High School his freshman year and due to his love of bike racing, he was home-schooled his remaining years doing independent study. He turned pro at 18.
With the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix host for this year’s SCNCA District Criterium Championships he was a dual winner as part of Williams’ team. A race champion and a state champion.
“A lot of people don’t understand cycling very much—it’s like a team sport,” Binatena said. “At the beginning of the race we are all assigned roles, duties and I was just following the team direction which, in the end, our team plan worked out and we won the state championships.”
He finished 85th overall, but was near the lead for several laps throughout the race.
Binatena attended the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix as a kid, first participating in the kid’s races and he remembers that fondly.
“It’s crazy because obviously my family is from Manhattan Beach, born and raised so I’ve been doing the kid’s race here since I was like 4 years old so now to be 23 and competing in the pro category. That really shows I went through it from 4 years old all the way to professional.”
His goal “is to stay in it as long as I can.” He prefers being on a “winning team” and an opportunity to ride his bike.
Second and third place in Men's
Finishing behind Williams in the Men's race was Carpenter who was probably the most talented rider in the field.
Carpenter is a professional road racing cyclist for UCI Professional Continental team Rally UHC Cycling and was the main competition for the Legion Los Angeles Team and did the best they could to keep him from winning.
“I’m better at a breakaway than a pure sprint,” Carpenter said. “I gave it a few nudges throughout the race, but this course is super tough to get away. It’s a downhill headwind and everybody can sort of see you the whole time and also I have a big ole ‘X’ on my back because I think I’m the only pro continental here.”
He improved greatly over his first try last year when he was caught in the last 200 meters and fell out of the top 10 at the finish line.
Jastrap is a first-year pro and second year racing in category 1 races. He rides for Wildlife Generation and it was his first-time racing in Manhattan Beach.
“This year I just decided to come out and try the course. I’ve always heard that it was a good course. With the payday, it was really hard to resist not coming out.”
David Mayhew, 37, of Bakersfield finished sixth overall in the same race and won the SCNCA Category 2 championship in his first time to Manhattan Beach.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mayhew said.
Rivera defends Women's title
The rider who had the best day was Rivera, who held off a challenge from Georgeson Wimberley but broke away with a couple laps to go to win easily defending her Women’s Pro 1/2/3 title she won last year. She won $1,680, same as the men’s winner.
She started racing at 16 and has had a lot of success in Manhattan Beach in just a few races.
“I was looking to have a nice race here today,” Rivera said. “I kind of felt out the field in the first few laps, kind of getting it up to speed. There were a few different attacks. The race went pretty hard.”
At one point, it was her and Georgeson Wimberley going at it for several laps, but Rivera put the pressure on and built up a sizeable lead that no one could overcome.
“I’m more known as a sprinter, so I normally wait around for the end of the sprint, but I like to challenge myself every now and then and I’ve been working on this kind of effort so it was good to put it in to practice and make it challenging for everyone,” Rivera said.
Still young, she says does not know how much longer she will do it.
“I am having fun. I like what I do and I travel the world racing my bike and I plan to be back. I love it. I appreciate it. It’s got me to where I am now.”
It was a highlight for Georgeson Wimberley who was racing for the sixth time in Manhattan Beach and fifth time in the pro race. She had a rare opportunity to go head-to-head with Rivera and she relished it.
It was her best finish ever, first time in the top five and while she usually races with a team this time she was not.
“I knew Coryn was the girl to watch,” Georgeson Wimberley said. “I knew I needed to be in a move with her if it was going to work.”
“I surprised myself in a good way,” she said. “I know that I have it in me. Sometimes it is hard to get there, but I put myself in a good position and I was able to hang on the best I could.”
Rivera was just too much.
“It just got to be too hard,” Emily said. “I couldn’t hold her wheel anymore. It was hard to watch it go away.”
When it was over she was “more than exhausted.”
Local rides as hobby
While Rivera rides for a living, Georgeson Wimberley does not.
“I have a full-time job and train outside of my work,” Georgeson Wimberley said. “It’s my No. 1 hobby.”
Her husband Aaron Wimberley, 45, who raced earlier and was in a crash that resulted in road rash, was watching his wife try to keep up with Rivera and was a very proud husband afterwards.
“Apples to oranges,” her husband said comparing Emily to Jordyn. “That’s not a common thing. It is surreal. She has got grit and heart.”
Other locals that participated included Redondo Beach’s Michael Johnson, 36, who raced in the event for the first finishing 14th out of 71 riders in the Category 3 SCNCA, which is very competitive. He was riding through town with a friend and signed up 15 minutes before the start of the race.
“Heard there was a bike race today and thought I would try my luck,” Johnson said. “One of the most fun races I’ve have done, but fierce. A fantastic race-unbelievable experience.”
Also riding was Derek Brauch, 46, of Manhattan Beach in the Men’s 40+ 1-3. He has raced seven times, two times as a pro. He finished in 13th place out of 63 riders.
“The history of (the race) is amazing,” Brauch said. “It used to be televised. It has a rich history.”
Kids race and mile race
The kids race has by far the most local participation.
One family from Redondo Beach was there for the second year. Marco and Joanne Inga were there with their sons Trey, 5, and Kaden, 3.
“I wanted to get the kids involved with the kids’ races (last year),” Marco said.
“It’s something we will do every year,” Joanne said.
They also had a mile run for the men and women.
Daniel Herrera, 26, who grew up in Pico Rivera and now lives in New Orleans beat the time set last of 4:11 and who has a personal best of 3:56. He came from behind to win.
“I just ran to compete,” Herrera said. “I just ran to do what I needed to do to win.”
Organizers were hoping one of the runners would break four minutes.
Samantha Murphy, 27, of San Diego won the women’s event.
“I’ve never had a road race event before so it was awesome,” said Murphy, who acknowledged she is a 800-meter runner usually and this is a bit longer than what she runs. “Midway through I kind of took the lead and then we were together for a bit and at the end I just wanted to use my speed as an 800-runner and kind of go for it.”