Archive for July, 2012
2012 Georgia Cycling Gran Prix Overall GC podium. L-R Dan Holt (Team Type 1), Alexy Schmidt (Team Type 1), Brian Toone (Tria Cycling p/b DonoohooAuto.com and Infinity Med-i-spa). Photo by Barbara Dowde
Three days, three podiums! This podium was for 3rd place in the 5 day stage race overall.
Unfortunately I didn’t see anyone with an iphone taking a picture of the podium – but there were a lot of people taking pictures with regular digital cameras so hopefully I’ll be able to post a podium pic in the next day or two. UPDATE: Joey Rosskopf (Team Type 1) passed along this podium pic (and the one at the bottom of the post) from Barbara Dowde. Thanks Joey and Barbara!
This race played out very similar to last year’s race, but the way I personally raced the race was completely different this year – and I ended up in the exact same position! Go figure. Last year a late race break of 15 formed when I bridged up with a small chase group to an original break of 10 riders that had gotten away a bit earlier. That break of 10 riders was an amalgam of smaller moves. A small break emerged from our group and I ended up something like 6th or 7th in the sprint from the large break to take 9th in the race. I was nursing a groin injury so I decided to start at the back of the race and wait as long as possible before doing anything.
This year, I was also nursing a bit of a groin injury from my cramps at the end of the Covington crit – but it wasn’t as bad as last year so I decided to be a bit more aggressive this year. I went with several of the early moves and eventually made it into a two-man chase group (me and Alexy Schmidt from Team Type 1) … we were chasing Alexy’s teammate Joey Rosskopf so Alexy wasn’t happy that I wasn’t contributing very much to the chase. I was pretty tired, though, after covering so many of the TT1 attacks and breaks from the first 10 laps of the race. So as the field was closing in on us, it looked like Alexy had given up – but instead he had only eased up for a second and then attacked really hard to finish the bridge by himself as I drifted back to the pack.
I was really tired at this point so I drifted back to the very back of the large field. It was much easier but I couldn’t respond to any moves. A chase group of about 6 or 7 riders emerged from our field and started to put some serious time into what was left in the field – eventually merging with Joey and Alexy. I still sat at the back resigned to just try and do whatever I could in the field sprint to get the 5 points I needed to make it into 3rd position for the general classification. Then a chase group formed, and I decided that I had to at least try so I attacked really hard from nearly the back of the pack because a nice string of coincidences led to a strung out pack that wasn’t going very fast. I took the momentum of the group and used it to slingshot myself sheltered from the wind all the way across to this chase group of 5 or 6 riders.
All of the attacking that had been going on in the field had dramatically reduced the gap to the lead group – so when I bridged to the chase group, the lead group was less than 15 seconds in front of us. Unfortunately, the momentum had gone out of the chase group. I went immediately to the front and ramped the speed back up, but the field was closing in on us fast when Jeff Mcgrane (Friends of the Great Smokies) came across the top of the feedzone hill absolutely drilling it down the hill into the course’s sharpest turn. This brought out the people who were willing to work in the chase group and we had about five or six guys killing it with three laps to go. We had nearly caught the leaders by halfway through the last lap – but they must have ramped up for the final sprint which meant that we were sprinting for ninth place in our chase group. Jeff led out the sprint, and I was able to come around him at the line to take ninth in the race.
Ahead of us – Alexy Schmidt took the sprint win followed by Joey Rosskopf (TT1) in second and Emilio Asconeguy (Rossetti Cycling Team) in third.
This gave me enough points to move up to 3rd in the overall general classification for the five days of racing – definitely my highest placing in such a long race (5 days). Very happy with the outcome, the training, and racing with everyone!
It worked so well yesterday, I thought I would try it again. So as soon as the chief official said “riders ready” – the secret codeword for “go” in crits, I clipped in and attacked hard – leading most of the first lap. This strung out the field with a small separation, but shortly through the second lap the field came back together. Oscar Clark (United Health Care / 707) rocketed off the front with a Lifetime Fitness rider. They got a small gap, but one lap later Dave Gearheart (Team Mission Soruce) drilled it hard on backside of the course through the tricky schoolyard turn and up the hill towards the start/finish turns. Dave had closed a significant portion of the gap, but when he pulled over to rest, none of the next couple riders pulled through so I immediately jumped hard to finish the bridge to the leaders.
At this point the three of us were off and flying. Oscar was drilling it so hard that I could barely hold his wheel and the Lifetime rider came off after a couple laps. We got into somewhat of a rotation where Oscar pulled maybe 90% of a lap, and I would pull 10%. Even so, I was way above threshold. My heartrate was well above my LT heartrate of 180 for the first 10 minutes of our break – eventually settling down to my threshold heartrate of 180 for the 35 minutes it took us to lap the field.
Before lapping the field, though, I got to witness one of the best displays of sacrificial teamwork I’ve seen in a while. Dan Holt (Team Type I) attacked to bridge to us. Oscar’s teammate, Oneal Samuels (UHC/707), covered the move forcing Dan to do the majority of the work to make the bridge up to us. Once there, Dan was outnumbered by the two UHC riders so he wouldn’t commit to the break (especially after having to go so hard to catch Oscar and me). Oneal recognized what was going on so he went to the front and drilled it super hard for a couple laps and then peeled off – knowing that Dan would work with Oscar and me, but not if he was outnumbered. Sure enough, Dan fully committed to the break, and the one-two punch of Dan and Oscar meant that it really was all I could do to hang on. Eventually, our pace started to slow a tiny fraction and I was able to pull on the short uphill section before the course’s one righthand turn.
I was very thankful once we lapped the field and initially tried to hold Dan’s wheel in the group. Once I had rested for a few laps, I decided to move farther up and mark Oscar. Then a couple riders slipped off the front and started to unlap themselves (Buddy Spafford – Florida Velo and Claudio Arone – EBP Racing). I was fighting off some cramps by this point in the race having already gone through TWO bottles and trying to figure out when was a good time to retrieve my third bottle from my back pocket. Fortunately, Oscar’s team was committed to chasing back Buddy and Claudio. Still, I knew that it was also in my best interest if we stayed away so whenever the pace really slowed down if somebody was interfering with the UHC train, then I would roll through and try to pick the pace back up again. I think this only happened a couple times as the UHC riders were committed to drilling it at the front.
With five laps to go, I cramped hard and stopped pedaling drifting all the way back to the pack of the field. Fortunately, my cramp subsided just as the pace slowed down. So I got to rest for nearly two laps as our pace wasn’t super fast with 4 to go or 3 to go. With 2 to go, it was full gas again and fortunately I didn’t cramp again until the finishing sprint. So I sat up happy to take third. Meanwhile, in the sprint, Team Type 1 and UHC had competing leadout trains with Oscar edging out Dan for the win.
Moon and church – our race started at 8:30, lasted an hour and a half, and this was the night scene after the race.
Five days of racing, car is getting messy, text annotates the tile I got for third place
Podium! I ended up second after a long 70 mile breakaway from the gun. I was tired of missing the early move so I decided to initiate the first attack by attacking as soon as the race started. David Guttenplan (United Healthcare / 707) followed me across the top of the feedzone hill, and Dave Gearhart (Team Mission Source) bridged up to us before the start of the first downhill section. Dave really drilled the pace, and we got into one of the best rotations for a three-man breakaway group I’ve ever been in. The course was constantly rolling except for a couple long gradual false flat type climbs (1-3% gradient). Lots of turns, too, so we were quickly out of sight and had a 3 minute gap by the end of the first of seven 10 mile laps.
By the end of the second lap, we had a 3.5 minute gap. Our gap started to come down on the third lap, and by the middle of the fourth lap, Oscar Clark (UHC/707) and Alexey Schmidt (Team Type 1) had bridged across to us. They gave our break new life, and we started flying again. Oscar was clearly the strongest, and with one lap to go he hit it hard through the start/finish getting a gap. Nobody was able to chase (including myself), and that was how the race was won – with 10 miles to go! Alexey was saving up for the finish and didn’t chase either – so for a while it was just me, Dave, and Alexey pulling with David sitting on since he had a teammate up the road. I thought Alexey might be struggling a bit so I attacked hard on the second hill after the KOM hill. Unfortunately, Alexey had no problem covering the move. So that put me in the unenviable position of having to pull for the next mile or so because we didn’t know what the time gap was to the field behind us.
Eventually, we were told that the gap to the chase group behind was more than 4 minutes with about 5 miles left in the race. So I stopped pulling hard, and basically Dave, Alexey, and I did a soft rotation. I had already worked it out that I was going to attack at the bottom of the 1K to go hill when I looked back from one of my pulls and I had a 50 meter gap! So I drilled it hard with less than 2 miles to the finish. There was one more short uphill followed by a righthand turn and a long downhill, so I hit it really really hard on the uphill to make sure I had enough of a gap not to get caught on the long downhill. Still, by the bottom of the hill at the 1K to go sign, the rest of the break was no more than 5 seconds behind. I hit it hard again on the hill thinking that my only shot at staying away was to extend my gap on the hill. I had nothing left by the top, but the chase had given up as they were starting to cat/mouse for the sprint so I was able to cruise in the final 300 meters from the top of the hill to the finish.
Dave Gearhart, who raced super strong all day, led out the sprint only getting passed right at the line by both David and Alexey. Oscar had a time gap of more than two minutes by the end of the race. Major kudos and thanks to Robb Pressley who gave me a ice cold bottle in the feedzone every lap after the first one for a total of 8 bottles including the two I started with. It was hot!
Tough race tonight. Team Type 1 again played it perfectly taking 1st and 2nd with Dan Holt and Alexey Schmidt. Here is how it played out. There was an early break that got a good gap, but I think it was missing TT1 so I was pretty sure it would all come back together, which it did.
Then it gets a little fuzzy but Dan made it into the next move along with Stephen Hirsch (UHC/707) and one other guy (maybe Tim Henry from Litespeed/BMW). This move quickly got a good gap until Mike Stone (Hincapie Devo) went to the front and started to bring it back pretty much single handed. After three or four hard laps he sat up and no one else took up the chase. The gap to the break quickly ballooned to close to a minute – in fact I figured we were going to get lapped.
But then the attacking started. Primary instigators were Mike and myself, but there was also a guy with a black kit and national champ markings on his sleeves (from a different country) who attacked several times. We could never get enough separation in a chase group to escape the field.
Then at the perfect moment when an attack was coming back, Alexey rolled off the front of our group with one other rider. It was a thing of beauty to watch as nobody could respond quick enough. There was a chase again led by Mike but the gap was too big. The break must have been getting tired b/c the two quickly crossed the gap to the leaders making a lead group of six.
The gap from our field to the leaders had come way down to only 15 seconds, but then it was only three laps to go. I found myself on Oneal Samuels wheel, a great sprinter from UHC/707, with two to go and followed him to the very front of the field by one to go. Another rider came around and led out the sprint, but Oneal hopped onto his wheel with me still attached to his wheel. And that is how we finished in the field sprint coming around the other rider by the line. It was only good for tenth in the race, though, as two other riders must have been b/t us and the break of six.
My power meter is still broken, so now power data from the race – but I can tell you it was hard!
What a disappointing race. I missed the original break b/c I thought it was missing TT1, but in fact there were TWO tt1 riders, Dan Holt in the initial move and Alexey Schmidt in a bridge group with Mike Stone (Hincapie Devo). It was a large field combined with the Cat 3s and the fading light it was hard to recognize kits – especially since I started near the back and didn’t move up to the front quickly enough.
About halfway through the race and completely frustrated about missing the move once I realized TT1 must have had a rider up the road by the way they were covering moves in the field, I attacked hard to bridge across. Ended up rolling solo for half a lap rather than establishing a chase group. Once I was caught, I recovered and tried to stay near the front. With four laps to go (2.5 miles per lap), Joey Rosskopf (TT1) attacked hard at the bottom of the pit row hill. I bridged across to him by the top of the hill. David Guttenplan (United Health Care/707) bridged next with Joe Eldridge (TT1). Also, there was a cat 3 with them. The field sat up, and we had a huge gap.
Still, there wasn’t good cohesion until we caught Eric Murphy (UHC/707) and another rider. We got into a rotation for a minute or two, but there were people sitting on. Eric and David pulled hard and a gap opened up to the rider behind them. I looked to TT1 to close it down but they didn’t so I pulled hard and ended up rolling off the group. I couldn’t catch UHC by myself so I sat up thinking we could still work together but it was too late. Field caught us at the start of the last lap. I was 10th or so in the field sprint for 17th or 18th in the race. Meanwhile, Eric and David completed the bridge to the leaders where David ended up winning the group sprint for 3rd — with Alex Schmidt and Mike Stone already off the front of that group to take 1st and 2nd.
Even though it was disappointing the way the race turned out, on the bright side, there was a beautiful sunset sky immediately after the race was over.