Six stages into the Tour of America’s Dairyland, Bryan Fratianne is feeling the burn.
“After Day 3, waking up has been a challenge,” the 23-year-old Janesville native said. “Eating is not fun anymore.”
He’s only halfway through, too. There’s five straight days of cycling left. But Tuesday, Fratianne’s legs must’ve felt a bit lighter as he cruised through downtown Janesville past supporters shouting his name.
Fratianne was one of five Janesvillians who raced in the Town Square Gran Prix, the sixth stage of the Tour of America’s Dairyland.
The nationally-renowned competitive cycling series weaves through southeast Wisconsin over 11 days.
“It would have been nice to put on (a show) a little bit off the front for the town,” said Fratianne.
He has competed in each of the tour’s first six stages.
“I was way more nervous for this than any of the other ones, just because I knew a bunch of people were going to be out here.”
Fratianne finished 43rd in the men’s category 4/5 race in 40 minutes, 37 seconds.
Fellow Janesvillians included Anthony Pierson in 42nd in 40:36, with Ryan Pierson, Benjamin Ryan and Ryan McGee all finishing off the lead lap.
The Tour of America’s Dairyland was the first major foray into competitive cycling for Fratianne, who’s engaged to marry his girlfriend, Allie Kitching, in 2020. He said he decided to intensify his cycling training six months ago after seeing the couple’s engagement photos online.
“The photos were taken and they went up on Facebook,” Fratianne said. “I looked at myself and went, ‘Thank God I have a beard because I look awful.’”
Fratianne, who’s studying computer science at UW-Whitewater, said his weight has dropped from 240 pounds to 190 in the span of six months of training.
“I feel a lot better,” he said. “But six months is not enough time to race and be competitive.”
Nathan Ganger, of Goshen, Indiana, won the men’s category 4/5 race in 38:32.
Kyle Pierson, a UW-Platteville senior, made his Tour of America’s Dairyland debut Tuesday. He finished one lap off the lead. His brother, Anthony, placed 42nd.
“My goal was not to crash,” Kyle Pierson said. “I haven’t been racing that long, so I was just trying to get experience today.
“The people that sign up for this race are here to win. Most other races, they’re just here to race.”
The Town Square Gran Prix marked the midpoint of the 10th edition of the Tour of America’s Dairyland, which came to Janesville for the first time. Four-hundred-eighty-nine riders competed across 10 events Tuesday, according to Tour of America’s Dairyland spokeswoman Erin Ninmer.
Pierson and Fratianne both said they would welcome racing in Janesville again next year.
“The roads were fine,” Fratianne said. “It was better than I thought.”
Big money Abraham
Emile Abraham, the 2017 US Masters national champion, missed the first five stages of the Tour of America’s Dairyland.
He had a pretty good day in Janesville.
The native of Trinidad & Tobago pocketed $1,300 in primes during the men’s masters category 1/2/3 race.
“I heard there were some primes and, man, they really threw it out there,” Abraham, 44, said. “This is what makes cycling exciting. I’m really happy the city came out and supported the Dairyland races. I hope they do it again next year. I think it’ll be even bigger once guys go back and talk about how great this race was.”
Abraham said it was the most money he’s won in a masters race.
Owen, Strong win pro titles
British cyclist Harriet Owen raised her arms in celebration after winning a six-way sprint to the finish in the pro women’s race.
It was the first victory of the season for the 24-year-old from Oxford, England.
“I keep getting third places so I’m glad to break that trend,” Owen said. “I like the circuit. It’s good for a sprinter. Dairyland is one of my favorite races. The crowds are insane.”
The peloton reeled in a four-man breakaway in the final laps and Hayden Strong pulled ahead late to win the pro men’s race. It was the second straight stage victory for the 20-year-old from Invercargill, New Zealand.
Series leader Luke Mudgway claimed a $2,000 prime with two laps to go but could not hold on for the win.
Town Square Gran Prix
Winner, hometown, time
Junior 9-12 boys/girls: Nolan Church, Owatonna, Min., 23:44.
Junior 13-14 boys/girls: Jack Carter, Minneapolis, Min., 26:21.
Women’s category 3/4/5: Ava Hachmann, Hesperus, Col., 38:40.
Men’s category 4/5: Nathan Ganger, Goshen, Ind., 38:32.
Men’s masters category 3/4: Jose Rodriguez, Highland Park, Ill., 49:26.
Men’s category 3: Michael Lucas, Grafton, Wis., 28:04.
Men’s masters category 1/2/3: Carlos Casali, Verona, Wis., 49:52.
Junior boys 15-18: Matthew Oliviera, NA, 35:53.
Pro women category 1/2: Harriet Owen, Oxford, England, 48:36.
Pro men category 1/2: Hayden Strong, Invercargill, New Zealand, 1:13.38.