Friday, May 23, 2008

Tour of Atlanta Race Report

Stage 1 - ITT - Buford
The 7-mile TT course was not technical on paper, but it felt very technical while riding. There were constant small rollers, gradual bends, changes in pavement, intersecting roadways, steady swirling winds, driveways, manhole covers, potholes, traffic, etc. I found it mentally exhausting. I never felt that I got into a rhythm, and when finished, I didn't feel that I'd ridden well. But after discussing the ride with others afterward, I realized everyone felt that way. It turns out that I rode well after all, and so did my teammates. Competitive 35+: Me - 1st; Chad Davies - 2nd; Todd Wilson - 16th (with a wrong turn). Elite 2/3: Doug Ott, 12th; Jake Andrews, 16th. In yellow for stage 2!

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Note added later: Please keep Tiago de Paula in your thoughts and prayers, and make a donation to help him out. He was severely injured warming up for the ToA TT yesterday. More at http://probikewrench.blogspot.com/2008/05/call-to-action-help-tiago-tiago-de.html
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Stage 2 - Sprints - Buford
The course was about 650 meters, slightly downhill with a gentle s-curve. The line was 200m from the end of the final bend. Todd rode in the 1st heat - I thought I saw him out front, but couldn't see well. Turns out he won going away! He used great tactics and had a strong sprint. In the 2nd heat, Chad was boxed in and didn't get into the top 3. I was in the 3rd heat (10 riders). We started slowly, jockeying for position. At 300m I was sitting 3rd wheel. I thought, "I'll jump at 250." At 275, 4 guys came around, two on either side, and I couldn't get out to even try to go with them. It was very disappointing - I wanted to go, but could not. After exceeding 1100 watts twice in warmup efforts, my max power output in a competitive sprint heat was only 748 watts - heartbreaking. I had no expectations to do well in the sprints; but in retrospect, I had the power to contend at least in the first heat if my tactics weren't so shitty. But that's obviously part of being a good sprinter - you have to have good instincts about how and when to use your power. I obviously do not have good instincts.

Todd took 3rd in the final round of the Competitive 35+ division.

Jake won his first round in Elite by half a bike length. He barely missed 3rd place on the 2nd round. Doug had a photo-finish sprint for 3rd/4th place in his 1st round, but ended up 4th and didn't get a chance to continue.

A very successful first two stages for Security Bank. I look forward to tomorrow.

Stage 3 - Circuit - John's Creek
Tough course - about 8 or 10 bends/turns with a couple of u-turns. My crit was hard (281W NP for first 15 min, 275W overall). I stayed near the front for the first 15 minutes, then started to fade more with each new surge. I was sort of dropped about twice, but chased back on. I finished 15th, in the back of the front group. Chad "Doc" Davies was right behind me in 16th, and Todd only lost a few seconds, I think. If the right folks picked up the time bonuses, I should still be in yellow tomorrow.

Jake fought hard and chased for a long time in no-man's land, but eventually lost some time in Elite. Doug was in a chase group that had closed to within 10 sec of the lead group when someone in front of him went down and took Doug with him. He broke his bars, got some road rash, DNFed, and had to get Bike Doctor to install new bars for tomorrow.

I think we can pick up a chunk of time tomorrow in the TTT. Ron and Bill will bring fresh legs and needed speed.

NP=275w (4.12 w/kg). Ave speed 24.9 mph.

Stage 4 - Team Time Trial - Monroe
The course was lengthened from 10 miles to 13 miles, which was good for us, I think. It was out and back with gentle rollers. Bill, me, Ron, Todd, and Chad ramped it up gradually and got to the turnaround in about 13 minutes, I think. Two cars were blocking the turnaround, which cost us maybe 5 or 10 seconds. Ron overshot the turnaround a little and had to hammer pretty hard for about 30 seconds to bridge back to us. We finished hard, with Bill doing a little more than his share of the work. Our time was 29:30, which puts us close to 28mph if the course was a little over 13 miles - I didn't measure it. We took 1st in the TTT by 61 seconds.

Jake, Doug, and Jeff formed a 3-man team in the Elite division, taking 11th, I think.

Stage 5 - Road Race - Monroe
Only about 2 hours after the TTT we started the 50-mile road race. There were no real climbs, just one decent hill for the KOM. I stayed in the front 20 riders all day to avoid crashes, etc. About 5 minutes into the race Bill reached down to adjust his speed sensor and lost about a pound of flesh from his hand in the front spokes. We all thought he would bleed to death, but he decided to surge and attack the group for the next 48 miles instead. He got away at about 6 or 7 miles to go and stayed away until about 5k to go. There was a crash at about mile 33 that took down about 15 riders from what I heard. The crash happened about 10 feet behind me. Todd and Chad just missed getting caught in it, I think. I raced very conservatively, finished safely in 12th place, and lost no time in GC.

Magnum Drew Slocum raced solo in the Competitive 35- division, and after freeing himself from the teammate baggage that had obviously been slowing him down, he broke away, stayed away for (17 miles maybe?) and took 1st! in a 2-man sprint. Congratulations Drew - job well done.

The Elite division of Security Bank had a tough road race. Doug and Jake got caught behind a railroad track crash in the rain and burnt all their matches on a long chase back to the main group. Doug took a KOM, but then his overworked, recently-crashed legs froze up on him with cramps. The broom wagons were all full with other elites, so he rode back to the start in the back of a sheriff's car like the common criminals he'll be prosecuting in a couple of years. Jake had better accommodations back to the start in Kristy's Tahoe. Jeff avoided the crash at the tracks, hung in there, and took, 25th.

Our Director Sportif, Eduardo Hudspeth, riding for Economy Honda, launched multiple attacks, but could not get them to stick in the Masters Road Race.

As far as we know at this point, Chad and I lead the GC by about a minute over the chasers. The scorers messed up Randall Roland's time and put him ahead of us, but he told me he rode a 32+ minute TTT solo. The results say he bettered us in the TTT by a minute. Todd moved up to 9th in GC, so that's 3 for Security Bank in the top 10. We have two difficult crits yet to go.

Stage 6 - Crit - Gainesville
I was a little concerned about the Gainesville crit. I raced the exact same course this spring(Gainesville Georgia Cup) and was hurt pretty badly early. My NP had been 310 or so in the first 10 minutes, I faded to the yo-yo back, and I couldn't hold the pack. I lost lots of time in that race.
This time was different. I started fast and absolutely would not let myself get more than about 10 riders from the front. If I felt 11th spot coming, I'd jump out of the saddle and do whatever it took to get back to about 5th. The strategy worked. I didn't have to hit my brakes on the turns and I could pick my own line most of the time - a much more efficient way to ride. About 20 minutes into the race, Ben from Cycleworks/HDR took a flyer off the front. He was sitting 3rd in GC. He's a big guy for a cyclist and if you didn't know him, you might not take his attack seriously, but I knew he could roll. Nobody seemed to want to chase, so I went to the front and worked hard for about a lap to prevent the small gap from growing. When I looked around for some help, I saw two of his teammates on my wheel. The only way to solve the problem was to completely turn off the gas. I did, and he was eventually chased down. It got pretty fast in the last two laps, I faded back a little and finished about 20th. Chad and Todd finished safely as well. Kudos to Todd for doing a lot to keep me out of the wind up front. Still in white with one crit to go. NP=275w (4.12 w/kg). Ave speed 24.8 mph.

Stage 7 - crit - Buford
I arrived just in time to see Drew's crit and snap a picture of his road race podium - he took 1st in Monroe.

The Buford course was a long rectangle. Turns 1 and 2 were smooth and easy. The back stretch had a small roller, but was mostly downhill. Turn 3 was tight and a momentum killer as the little 75m, 6-7% climb started. Turn 4 was at the top of the climb 250 m from the finish. I used a different strategy for this course than in Gainesville. I was concerned that if I tried to kill the climb on every lap, I'd go too deep into the red and might get dropped if there was an attack or prime at the wrong time (concentrating on not getting dropped is a really bad strategy for winning races, but I wasn't trying to win this one); so I used the back straight to move to the front on almost every lap. It was easy to move up in that area because the wind was from the left and everyone would swing out to the left as they came around turn two. I took the inside line if possible, moved to the drops, and went pretty hard down the right side as the leaders recovered and got organized for the next climb.

I often entered the climb on 2nd or 3rd wheel, and without blowing myself up, could come out of it no worse than 10th or 15th. I'd move back to the front again and repeat - I did that roughly 15 times. The only times I didn't do it were on time bonus laps, when the pace was too high to move up.

There was a crash in front of me at about 15 minutes in - a clipped pedal, I think. I was lucky that the the guy fell straight down and allowed me about a 2-foot gap between him and the curb to get around. I knew turn three would be dicey on the last lap, and I had 90 seconds on everyone but my teammate, Chad Davies, who was 10 seconds back. So Chad and I moved to the back of the group on the last back stretch, sacrificed a few seconds, and stayed out of trouble. Sure enough, on the last time through turn 3, all the riders turned together but one, and the guy to his right went straight into him. Because we'd let a 1-second gap form in front of us, Chad and I had time to get around him without stopping. I shot left through the exact same 1-foot gap as I had 15 minutes earlier. Chad and I finished together a few seconds off the back. Mission accomplished - 1st and 2nd in the Tour of Atlanta for me and Chad. Todd took 9th to give us three in the top ten. NP=282w (4.22 w/kg). Ave Speed 24.5 mph.

3 Comments:

Sean Weide said...

Robert:

Thanks for the race reports. Any idea where to find race results for the Tour of Atlanta?

(sweide at gmail dot com)

Robert Jordan said...

Tour of Atlanta results are posted at http://www.georgiacup.com/index.php?page=gcresults, but they usually lag the races by a day or two.

Peloton Camden said...

Congratulations Robert and to all the Security Bank riders! What a great win and I think you earned yourself an automatic upgrade to the 3's!!