Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Istrian Spring Trophy
We're back in Lucca, Italy after finishing the Istrian Spring Trophy in Croatia. The race ended pretty successfuly with Larry Warbasse finishing in 7th. This was just a preparation race, so results weren't a big objective. The main goal was to just get as much out of the race as possible. That being said, we still worked hard to get a result and not look like dumb Americans! The first stage ended with a 500 meter cobbled climb. Turning onto the climb I was sitting about fourth wheel. Perfect position for a decent result. I followed to other guys, but made the mistake of trying to shift down into my small chainring. Due to the amount of power we were cranking out my chain slipped right off. There was nothing I could do, but get off the bike and yank it from in between the crank and frame. By the time I was able to do that the entire pack had passed, so I just rolled in and lost about a minute. Larry was able to slip in at 10th and move up a few spots in GC.
The next day was the longest stage of the race at about 160 kilometers. Ian Boswell and I tried hard to get into the early break but we just could'nt get into it. After three guys got away the entire team just chilled in the pack until about 15 km to go. With about 5 km to go we had a sharp turn onto a steep climb where the finish was at the top. Larry had great positioning starting the climb, and not wanted to leave him to fend for himself, I went all out to make it up to him. Three guys, including the yellow jersey, gapped themselves from everyone else, so I then went to the front and did an all out pull. I lasted about a minute and when I pulled off I looked back to see Larry and only three other guys still with me. I chilled for the rest of the climb and came in about two minutes down. Larry hit the cobbled section with about 400 meters to go in third wheel, but couldn't find a solid rhythm and ended up dropping down to 15th which put him into 7th overall.
The last stage looked like it the flattest on the course profile, but was filled with enourmas winds. The plan for the race was to just get someone in the early move, and then to try and lead Gavin Mannion out for a possible result in the sprint. I ended up being the guy that made it into the breakaway after about 45 all out kilometers. I got off with three other guys including Tadej Valjevec. The four of us worked really well together over the next 20 or so kms and built up a max gap of 3:30. About halfway through the stage there was about a constant 25 kilometers of climbing. It would be up for a few kilometers then barely back down again before we started climbing again. Valjevec basically pulled up every single hill at solid pace saying that he needed us for the last 50 kilometers of gradual downhill/flat with a killer tail wind. When we finally stopped climbing with 50 kms to go we had about a minute and a half gap. We basically went balls to the wall and when we had about 20 km to go the gap had gone down to 45 seconds. We continued to work well with eachother, but got caught with only 8 kms to go. We were all dead and drifted back into the destroyed peleton. The other guys were saying that over the climbs the Swiss National Team blew up the pack and when we were caught there were only about 60 guys left. I just sat at the back of the pack for the rest of the race. Gavin was on his own for the sprint and ended up finishing an impressive 9th place. Larry also held onto his 7th place overall. All in all, a sucessful race for the team. It was great preparation for our next few races.
We are all back in Italy now for about another week before heading back to the team house in Belgium. Our next race is the notorious Tryptique Mont et Chateux. A big race on the border of Belgium and France that usually attracts some of the top U23 riders. I've heard that a big part of the race is decided by the time trial, so hopefully it'll be a solid race for me. The only thing for me to do now is get rid of this cold that I'm fighting. I'm missing out on some great training in beautiful weather here in Lucca because of this thing. Hopefully I'll soon be better. Until next time!