Since the conclusion of USA Crits Speedweek two weeks ago,
my Team Exergy teammates and I have posted up some impression van hours as
we’ve traveled across the eastern US in search of good training rides in
between our races in St. Louis, MO and Wilmington, DE. With Carlos joining the
stage racing squad for the Tour of California, I’ve had the opportunity to take
leadership in the finale so although I structured my year’s training for June,
I’ve had mid-May on my mind for many months.
With US Pro Nationals or the Philadelphia International
Championship only days away, my teammates and I have also been putting in some
heavy training midweek so it has been a battle of tapering and fine-tuning our
recovery techniques in order to arrive fresh for each weekend of racing. However despite our tired legs and smaller
numbers, we are still extremely hungry to continue to improve every week after
our great results at Speedweek.
We arrived in St. Louis on Thursday after three amazing days
of training in Evansville, Indiana; the windy and vacant farm roads proved
perfect for smashing out our 4-6 hour training days. Once in settled in the
lavish downtown race hotel, complete with kitchenettes and ensuites (a very
welcome change from the often cramped accommodations of Speedweek’s hectic
travel schedule), we headed down to the Gateway for some ‘touristic’ riding. However that pleasant evening ride proved as one of the last ‘nice’ moments of
the weekend as our luck turned by the next evening’s opening stage. Despite losing
all of my teammates due to crashes with six and two laps remaining, we almost
pulled off a good result anyways as their hard work throughout the race helped
save my legs for good positioning in the finale. (Full recap here). Heading into the final corner fifth wheel and
right behind eventual winner Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), I was ready to pounce;
however a crash at the front of the race sent a rider flying off course and his
bike high up in the air. When his bike came down, it tagged my front wheel and
broke 3 spokes. Amazingly I stayed upright but coasted across the line 10th
with my hands in my face and fists smashing the handlebars wondering what could
The second day, a kermese style 3km lap in the heat of the
day, proved a much different beast. Although freshly paved, the speed of the
peloton was only disrupted by seven corners each lap, fostering the breakaway’s
arch enemy....”THE SWARM”. With the
roads 5-6 lanes wide, riders can easily swarm over top the peloton or launch an
attack from outside the top ten which makes it difficult for a breakaway to
stay away. After 75 minutes of ‘slow’
racing, the pace increased quickly as the lap board suddenly came up with 3
remaining. I was caught out by this and heading into the final lap, still out
of position. As a result, a large crash at corner 1 on that final lap sent me
outside of the course and up onto the sidewalk. After chasing back onto the back of the 25
rider in the lead group, I was only able to manage 10th on the day.
Another great disappointment, except today the responsibility fell entirely
upon my shoulders.
|Kevin & I @ Dutchtown|
The final day in St. Louis was our last chance to get on that
podium. We were fired up and I was extremely motivated to make the race hard.
Another long lap, the course featured a 7% incline in the final 100 metres
after a windy clockwise lap toured the peloton around St. Louis’ suburb of
Dutchtown. The sun was also very hot
today so we made sure to pack a few ice socks and hydrate well before the race.
Near the mid-point of the race, a strong breakaway formed with great
representation from Jamis-Sutter Home, Team Exergy and Mountain Khakis. Feeling
good in the break, with Kevin at my side, I was very optimistic as we hovered
over twenty seconds off the front. However the size of the move proved our
downfall as the 10 rider move started to suffer from confusion after 5 laps and
the peloton returned to our draft. However immediately after the catch, with
the peloton strung out in chase, a crash occurred at 7th wheel and a
split occurred. Luckily Conor was well placed at this moment and cruised into
what became the winning move of the day. Although kept on a short leash, hovering
only 10-16 seconds ahead, the break had to work hard to roll to the finish. Jamis-Sutter Home was the only team that
attempted to pull it back after missing out but were unsuccessful and with 3
laps remaining the peloton set up for the bunch kick.
|Conor in the break|
In the finale, using the lessons learned the previous days,
Tino, Kevin and Quinn positioned me well heading into the final lap. Brad Huff
(Jelly Belly) took over on the back straightaway with teammates Sergio
Hernandez in tow. I followed with Alejandro Borrajo behind. In the sprint, Luke
Keough (Mountain Khaki’s) shot out like a rocket with Justin Williams behind.
Slotting in behind Justin, the other riders fell away but I was unable to come
back to the two in time. Unfortunately up ahead in the breakaway, Conor suffered
a mechanical out of the last corner, leaving 6th as best result
possible. So really, another disappointing finish to the day with 6th
and 10th after we all rode we great strength. Our luck has got to
change soon, I hope.
Labels: Road Report