Monday, August 04, 2008

Elberton Race Report

State Championship TTT
Bill pulled the 5-man train out of town very quickly. We caught our first 2-minute team at about 10 minutes into the 19.5-mile course. We were rolling very fast at mile 9 when Chad flatted (the 2nd TTT flat he's had this year - very disappointing). We didn't miss a beat and four of us kept rolling. At about mile 9.3 I noticed that the back end of my bike felt 'loose.' When I realized I had a slow leak, I chanced one more pull downhill, then faded to the back and told my teammates that I'd flatted also - extremely disappointing. Todd hung in and powered for a while with his recently-installed disc wheel, then handed it over to Bill and Ron, who finished the ride alone and won the event for us by over 2 minutes over the 2nd placed team. A great ride by the elderly contingent.

I almost arrived late to the start line after warming up away from the course and lined up at the back. When the race started, a little lane opened up, so I shot through it and kept on the gas. By the first turn I had a little gap, so I kept pedalling. I was joined by two others and we stayed a short distance off the front for about the first 8 or 10 minutes. It was our plan to make other teams work early so Bill could attack later, but we initiated the plan a little quicker than I expected. When my group was caught, Bill attacked. At first he was hanging by himself about 10 seconds off the front. When Randall Roland from Antarus bridged up, I knew they had a good chance to stay away. They had 45 seconds on the field with 2 laps to go and Bill flatted in corner 4. A missed victory opportunity for Bill and more terrible luck with flats for Security Bank.

Road Race
We traversed a 30-mile loop twice. It was a little technical with some rollers, but not much climbing. It was very hot. Bill was tied for 2nd in the GC with Ron not far behind, so Chad and I planned to work for them by attacking early and chasing breaks. At about 7 miles into the race, Outspokin, who had a guy tied with Bill in GC, were sitting 3-abrest at the front and controlling the pace. Then their GC guy flatted. All three of them pulled off to help and to try and pace him back (they never did). Bill attacked immediately, about 2 miles from the first of two KOMs. He stayed away over the KOM and picked up 7 KOM points. He sat up and we regouped. A mile or two later, at about mile 10, all four of us were on the front. I increased my speed a little and noticed that I had a 20-yd gap on the field, so I kept on the gas. I glanced back again and saw that I had 200m and they weren't chasing. I decided it was too early for a break to stick, but that I'd just keep it on 300 watts and not look back until I was caught. At least the other teams would have to do some work.

After about 5 minutes, I heard someone shift behind me. I figured it was the peloton. It was a welcome sight to see only two guys - Star Bridges from UCBI and Andrew Stephenson from ATS, a great pair - they both had teammates behind us. We worked together well, increasing the gap from 30 seconds to two minutes pretty quickly. Eventually we stretched the gap to 4 minutes at the 2nd KOM - mile 40 of 60. Andrew cramped badly with about 5 miles to go, but stayed ahead of the pack to take 3rd.

I was positioned perfectly behind Star for the sprint, but every time I 'found another gear' on the sprint, so did he. I could not come around him on the downhill sprint. He took first with me sitting on his wheel. It's great when a break sticks, and even better when you're in it!

Jake had a similar day in Elite - he finshed 2nd in a four-man, 52-mile break. I think Bill took 2nd in GC and Ron likely had a high GC finish as well. Elberton brought lots of racing success and was a great venue.