Spartanburg featured as the final twilight race of the week and held late under the flashing cameras and great presence of a loud and fun audience. The race was very hectic however and three major crashes disrupted the race, causing numerous neutralizations. With 3 laps to go, the guys and I formed at the head of the peloton and it looked great to set up Carlos; however United Healthcare’s experience came to the fore as they passed our train with 1.5 laps to go. Fortunately the high speed of the leadout helped Carlos position behind UHC and he finished 2nd behind Jake Keough of United Healthcare in the finale. Jake’s final leadout man Robert Forster (stage winner at the Giro d’italia & Veulta Espana) finished 3rd.
Saturday’s race was the first day of afternoon racing, changing the standard start time of 8pm to 3pm, the time which we usually napped! It was also very hot and the course non-technical, so it was difficult to keep the most skilled riders at the front of the peloton. The heat, 88 degrees Fahrenheit and 90% humidity, negatively affected Team Exergy’s North American riders but fortunately Carlos and Tino felt great. So Tino attacked solo and earned the most Aggressive Rider award; he also moved up to 2nd place in the lap leader competition. In the sprint finale, after just 75 minutes of racing, United Healthcare lined it out and gapped the entire field in the wind-swept run up the finale corner except for Carlos. Although he jumped past and won the field sprint, David Williams (Competitive Cyclist) lapped the field during the middle portion of the race. So heading into the final day Team Exergy had solidified 1 win, 3 silvers and 2 field sprint victories over the first six days, placing us at the head of every competition by healthy margins except the Team Omnium, in which Mountain Khaki’s trailed by only 3 points: (Exergy 4001, Khaki’s 3999, Cocos 3550).
Today’s race returned the squad to the outskirts of Atlanta and the pleasant town of Sandy Springs, GA. A hilly, six corner L-shaped & clockwise course featured as the day’s battle ground, playing suit to power sprinters as the run up from corner 6 to corner 2 averaged a steady uphill grade. However the rest of the lap descended briskly in rollercoaster corkscrew fashion on freshly paved tarmac, so the net-fun level was positive.
The plan of the day: representation and primes! Conor, Kevin and Quinn were on early duty looking for breaks and prime sprints. Kevin was also in the hunt of points at the mid race sprint and finale with the hopes of securing his U25 jersey. Taking 3rd at half distance for 5 points and 23rd at the line, Kevin topped his rivals Cole House (Competitive Cyclist) and Adam Liebowitz over the course of the 7 races. Tino, Carlos and I were planning to save our energy for the 2nd half of the race but also tackle primes. After saving our energy for stage wins the entire week, the team looked for ‘easy’ money as we held strong positions in the majority of the classifications. In the second half of the race, Tino and I both launched aggressive moves, creating small breaks of 2-4 riders respectively, however with United HealthCare and Rossetti marking the front of the field, these small moves returned to the peloton within 2-4 laps. Fortunately however, that 3 lap attack helped me find my legs and click on the focus.
The remainder of the laps counted down quickly with many $200 prime sprints animating the field; before I knew it, only 3 laps remained. By this point I started to look for Mountain Khaki’s riders whom were focused entirely on the Team Classification today. Ivan Dominguez attacked hard and established a solid 3-6 second gap so Brad White (UHC) took to the front. At two laps to go, Carlos and I drifted in the top ten with 3 Mountain Khaki’s in view while Robert Forster (UHC) drove the pace.
This course is all about positioning at corner 1 of the final lap and over the line with 1 kilometre to go, Dominguez floated just seconds ahead. The field moved abruptly to the right barrier so I moved up the middle of the road to slot in behind a still Dominguez-chasing Jake Keough (UHC), Carlos Alzate (Exergy), Emile Abraham (Rossetti) and Shane Kline (Mountain Khaki’s).
Down the backside descent, our tubular tires dug into freshly paved tarmac with great response as the late afternoon sun heated its surface. With our bodies banked inwards and pedals skimming, the long line of heat-sapped and energy-deprived Speekweek racers counted down the final corners of the week. Bumping and barging in our usual sporty but respectful manner, we all battled for position into the final off-camber corner. Carlos made his move on the outside into corner six, moving outside of Jake. Three wheels back I jockeyed with Kline, cutting hard inside out of the final corner to reduce my total sprinting distance. In the 120 metre drag up to the line, it was head down and full power. As I looked up at the line, Carlos raised his arms in a double salute with Chad Andrews on the loudspeaker yelling “You have just witnessed a freak of cycling....CAR...LOS.....ALZATE!”.
With Carlos in good position, I could focus on taking as many points as possible for the Team Overall so I was pretty stoked to take a 5th place today, moving up to 5th overall in the Individual Omnium. Kevin and Conor battled their way through the finale after hard efforts in the early going to finish 23rd and 28th but Mountain Khaki’s p/b Smartstop placed riders in 4th, 7th, 12th and 26th, to claim the Overall Team Omnium by 1 agonizing point: Khaki’s @4756, Exergy @ 4755, Coco’s @ 4124. But we can’t win everything and 20 year veteran Adam Myerson took the reins of his young team to lead them to this important team win. Congrats to Mountain Khaki’s and all of my Team Exergy teammates.
Next up is Tour of Grove in St. Louis on May 11th-13th. Thanks for reading!
Stage 7: 1st Carlos Alzate (Team Exergy), 2nd Jake Keough (UHC), 3rd Emile Abraham (Rossetti)
Lap Leader: 1st Carlos Alzate, 2nd Tino Alzate, 3rd Jackie Simes
U25: 1st Kevin Mullervy, 2nd Adam Liebowitz, 3rd Cole House
Team Omnium: 1st Mountain Khaki’s, 2nd Team Exergy, 3rd Team Cocos
|Courtesy CyclingNews: Alzate wins @ Sandy Springs|
|Courtesy Heybuckshot: U25 Omnium: Kevin Mullervy|
|Courtesy Heybuckshot: Global Sports Sandy Springs Podium|
|USA CRITS Speedweek 2012: Individual Omnium|