Saturday, March 04, 2006

Vlaamse Pijl 1.2 in Belgium

Today we did the Vlaamse Pijl 1.2 race here in Belgium. The race started only 10k from our house here in Izegem, so it was nice to get to the race with plenty of time. The race was 150k with the key factors being the Old Kwaremont cobblestone climb followed by four other cobblestone climbs within 30k. The Old Kwaremont was 60k in, so we had to be ready early. John Devine, Matt Crane, Zach Taylor, Ryan Keels, Chase Renick and myself were all ready to hit the cobblestones hard!

The race was playing out just how we thought, with the first big effort being the 5k's before the Old Kwaremont. Devine was in great position, top ten, and I was maybe top 30 going into the cobblestone beast. It cost me cause the riders in front of me were opening gaps and when we went over the top, I was in a 10 person group chasing the 20 or so riders 100 meters ahead. The chase was on directly after because the next climb, the Patersburg, was 4k later. As we were bombing a narrow one lane road descent, I felt my front tire go soft on me. At the most critical part of the race, the worst thing just happened, I had a flat. As I struggled to hold the bike upright on the tricky descent, I came to a stop, yelling in the radio for our director to have a wheel ready. He was too far back and the first available help was the Mavic neutral car. Nearly 3 minutes later I had a new front wheel and started my chase. Over the Patersburg I caught a group of 10 riders who were dropped. I worked with them until we caught the caravan of the next big group. After 15 minutes of chasing at over 400 watts, I finally caught what turned out the be the third group. There were 50 riders in the group, so I figured I would wait here and see if we catch on to the next chase group. It turned out that the next group was 5 minutes up the road, and I had no idea cause once again the team radio attached to my ear didn't work. Damn. After 110k we hit the local circuit where we suppose to do 3 X 11k. Since we were pretty much out of the race, they pulled the whole group. It's funny cause there were guys in this group killing it for the sprint for maybe 100th place. Some people just don't get it.

So my day was cut short due to an untimely flat, but Devine was in the front chase group. A break got away with 7 riders; four of which were the Pro Continental Teams Chocalade Jacques and Lambowkrediet. Chocalade Jacques took the win, with Devine taking top 15 in the field sprint for a top 25. Devine had a great ride, quoted after the race saying,"Man, that wasn't even hard!" He's a stud. So he leaves us to head for a stage race in Spain, but the rest of us are mounting our specialized rigs again tomorrow for Brussels Zepperen. It's a 1.12, so the pro continental teams won't be there. We will be looking for our first podium of the year tomorrow, so hopefully luck will be on our side. We will see.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Photos from Spain Training Camp

Near Calpe, Spain
Climbing up the 'Col De Rates'
On the Coast of Javea, Spain
On the Coast in Moraira, Spain
A wheelie to start the day

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Brussels Opwijk 1.13

Brussels Opwijk 1.13
February 26, 2006
Today I did my first race of the year, Brussels Opwijk. It was a pretty hard race. Last year none of our guys finished, so my goal going into it was to finish and hope to be as far towards the front as possible. The race was about 145k which would take about 3.5 hours. After 15 k we had to do 2 laps from 55k then 3 laps of 6k for the finishing circuits. During the first 1 hour and half I felt pretty good. I was in the chase group of about 25, and John Devine was in the front group of about 16. We hit our first feed zone and got a bottle of hot tea. This must have gone straight to my legs cause I felt phenomenal after that. I went across to the front group with 8 other guys. Since I had Devine up there, I hardly had to work. Once we got to the front group, a break of 7 rolled up the road. I wanted to make sure not to hurt myself, so I let it go. The problem was when 7 more guys got off before I could react and formed a 14 man break. That was dangerous. Devine and I started following anything that looked good. We had no luck and both finished in the chase group of maybe 30 riders. I finished 24th with Devine close behind. I was definitely happy with the first race of the year and will be looking to build on that with the weeks to come. Our next race is Vlaamse Pijl 1.2 in Belgium. The 1.2 UCI ranking means there will be some pro continental teams as well as numerous continental teams from Belgium. The next day will be Brussel Zepperen 1.12, which is a slightly lower UCI rank, but still very tough. Hopefully we will again have good races and improve on today.