Friday, August 8, 2008

National Championships Update

The road side of Nationals is finally done. So far, I am bringing back one jersey and one other medal. Nationals started with the 18 km TT, then the 25 km crit, and finished with a 56 km road race. This year my whole family came to California in an overloaded car with three bikes on top. The drive up here ONLY took about 22 hours over two days. We got here late Sunday night to check into La Quinta Santa Ana. Over the next few days I went out and studied the TT course and Road Race course (which I later learned that I was riding the course backwards). The TT course was uphill for the first 12-13 minutes than downhill for four miles until the turn around, then slightly uphill for another 2.5 miles to the finish. The best way to ride this course was to go all out till you get to the top of the hill and then recover on the way down. I did exactly this and found myself coming into the finish line a minute and a half faster than the second fasteset time. I then sat in the "hot seat" for about another 15 minutes until the rest of the 15-16 riders had finished. The closest rider to me was fellow Belgian teammate Anders Newbury forty seconds back. It took a while to sink in that after fours years of tyring I had finally been able to step onto the top step of the podium again as National Champion. I later found out that I had the fastest time out of the 17-18s as well. The following day was the 25 km crit with 15 laps of around 1.5 km and around seven turns. The race started out fast with many riders trying to get an early break going. Nobody was given more than about 10 seconds before being brought back by the 5280 team. With a little less than three laps to go I attacked after a break had just been caught. The next time I looked back I saw that nobody had reacted at all. At first I was a little hesitant because if I was caught there was no way that I would have enough "juice" to contest in the sprint. When I came through the start/finish line with two laps to go with about a 10 second gap I knew that it was now or never. I then went all out for the next two laps only to be caught 200 meters from the finish line. I then just sat up and rolled into the finish, which apparently took me over twelve minutes and 62 people passed me. My average watts for the six minutes that I was off the front were 415 with my average heartrate being 206. Today was the 56 km road race. The course was 8 km in length with a couple of small hills in it. Right at the start three people got away and quickly built up a gap that hovered around 15 seconds. On the second lap I was leading going into a U-turn when I slid out. Thankfully everyone else had avoided me and we were going so slow around the turn that I was able to jump back up and get back into the race with only about 20 guy's passing me. The only damage done to me was a thin layer of skin off of my shin. Over the next few laps two other riders had bridged up to the break and two of the original riders in the break had been shelled off. The two riders that had bridged up to the break had were both "Belgian Teammates", Anders Newbury and Alex Battles-Wood. With two strong riders in the break the gap had quickly opened up to around 28 seconds. With two laps to go the gap hadn't come down all that much. I then attacked out of the U-turn, bringing two others with me. We quickly built up a gap. One of the guys with us dropped off a little less than one lap to go. With about half a lap to go we finally found ourselves latching onto the back of the break. With no one really wanting to sacrafice their chance of winning I got to the front and started pulling with some help from Anders. With about 750 meters to go the pack was quickly pulling us back with the gap falling down to about 10 seconds. From then on the road was a gradual uphill till the finish. When the sprint started with about 200 meters to go I couldn't match the others and barely managed to roll in for fifth for my second medal of the week. I've included a screenshot of the TT.

1 comment:

wenger said...

good grief. nice work, lawson. it doesn't matter if you're gifted, you have to want to go that hard to get 344 or 415w! good on you for willing yourself to high level performances.