For The Racing Post this month I decided to right about my racing experience at the Tour du Pays de Vaud in Switzerland. I am currently in Massachusettes for the Fitchburg Longsjo Cycling Classic. I arrived here 20 hours after I was originally scheduled to due to delayed and missed flights. The racing kicks off tomorrow (July 2nd) with a 14 km time trial. Hopefully I'll be recovered from all of my traveling to put in a good time.
Pays du Vaud is a UCI Junior Class 2.1 four day race with five stages in Switzerland. It began with a three kilometer prologue starting pretty late at night by our Texas standards. USA completely dominated the stage by sweeping the podium with Nathan Brown taking the win over Adam Leibovitz and myself. We took every single jersey except one, Nathan in yellow (leader), Adam in green (points), and myself in the white (young rider).
Stage 2 the next day was the first mass start stage and was about 100 kilometers of rolling hills. The stage finished at the top of a four kilometer climb that was sure to split the pack by the top. The goal for the stage was to keep the yellow jersey in the team. Our job: make sure no break got too far up the road. By the time we reached the base of the climb, the peloton was together. Right at the bottom of the climb a Danish rider attacked and immediately opened up a 10 second gap. Nathan then put in an attack and brought with him along another Danish rider and a Dutch. The initial attack ended up staying away by about 15 seconds and Nathan was able to get fourth on the stage and USA kept the yellow by one second. The rest of the team rolled in and managed to remain within a minute of our leader.
Day three started with an 80 kilometer road race that was pancake flat for the first 75 kms and then climbed 600 meters in the last six kms. Our plan was to control the front with Adam, Jacob, Gavin, and me so that the race would be together at the base of the climb. Connor would then help Nathan as much as he could on the climb before pulling off and letting Nathan take over. Our plan worked flawlessly and Nathan grabbed third on the stage, but ended up losing the yellow by four seconds. The rest of the team took it easy up the mountain pass to save some energy for the time trial later that day.
After resting and refueling, USA challenged the eleven kilometer time trial that was completely flat for the first ten kilometers with a steep climb for the last km. I was able to take the win on the stage by four seconds over the Dutch National TT Champion and another 17 seconds to one of the Danish riders. Nathan put an extremely strong time trial to grab 5th on the stage and regain the yellow jersey by about 45 seconds. Once again, we were in the lead.
The next day was the last road race and final stage at 110 kilometers and climbing for a total of 1000 meters. It was by far the hardest stage of the race and by the time we reached the finish, the peleton was completely shattered. Early on in the race a break of about ten was attacked and got off the front. By about 30 kilometers into the stage the gap was almost three minutes with a rider in the break down in the GC by only 2:30. It was time to start chasing. I got to the front and over the next 25 kilometers and brought the gap down to 2:30. With about 50 kilometers to go, the rest of the team went up to the front and we brought the gap down to about a minute with 20 kilometers left in the race. Since the break was no longer a threat to take over the yellow, we let the Danish and the Dutch teams to get to the front to keep the break in check so that they wouldn't lose their podium spots. The break ended up staying away by about a minute with Christopher Jennings of South Africa taking the stage win. USA kept the yellow jersey and we took home the individual overall with Nathan and second place on Team Classification.
This win at Pays de Vaud gave USA Cycling Junior Developmental program extremely good hope for the rest of the season and junior cycling’s future. It has showed that USA is becoming extremely more competitive in not only time trials, but also road races and stage races abroad. Pays De Vaud, as a top ranking UCI Race was definitely a test of strength, endurance and teamwork. Racing in Europe with USA Cycling and my team Hot Tubes has taught me that when we race, we put our individual goals aside and ride our best for the team (something I’m still working on!).