Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Tryptique went pretty well for the team. We went in with a bunch of options due to the strong team we had with Nathan Brown, Gavin Mannion, Ian Boswell, Ryan Eastman, Rob Squire, Larry Warbasse, and myself. Saying that, we could have had a better first stage. The race was set along the border of Belgium and France which meant strong crosswinds on open roads. Just as they promised, the crosswinds split up the field and about 50 km into the stage a group of about 20 guys slipped off the front. We only had Eastman up there, but the gap opened up so quickly that there was no use in chasing. Eastman ended up finishing safely in that group with everyone else in the pack. I didn't contest the sprint and finished near the back of the group, so this meant I had an early start in the TT the next morning. The TT course was about 9 km of flat roads with a pretty strong cross wind. I put the hammer down from the start and came through the finish with the fastest time by about 20 seconds.
For the next two hours or so I sat in the hot seat and watched rider by rider fail to top my time. Fortunately for me, the wind started to pick up and I ended up taking my first win of the year!
Definitely an exciting moment for me, but the race wasn't over yet. Eastman was sitting in about 15th after the TT, and we knew we could get him higher up on GC. Later that day was stage 2B. It was about 120 km that finished with circuits that involved the Kuisberg (??). This was about an 800 meter climb with probably an average of 10% and pitches up to 15%. Going into the base of the climb the whole race was together. Trying to set something up for the team I hit the front with about 2.5 kms left and Eastman on my wheel. Next thing I knew we had a gap on the field. I just put my head down and went all out until we hit the base of the climb. I pulled off and just screamed 'GOO!!!'. Eastman took off and was able to hold off the majority of the field to finish fourth and move into 9th overall. Definitely a sucessful day for the team! The race ended up a 162 km queen stage that had about 10 KOM climbs. The team was pretty aggressive at the beginning and at about 50 kms in I was able to jump into a two man break. Oh boy, that was a great idea...NOT. The pack stopped chasing behind us and our gap balooned quickly. Before we knew it we had over 3 minutes. We rode tempo until we were caught about 60 kms later. We had been away for five of the KOMs and I had won all of them putting me into the KOM jersey at the moment. Shortly after we were caught we started our two 15 km local laps. Nate jumped into a two man break with the winner of the day before and opened up a decent gap. I was toast and when we hit the climbs on the lap I went backwards. I spent the last 25 km off the back just trying to survive. Nate ended up being caught with a mere 800 meters to go, but Gavin salvaged the day for a 6th place in the sprint finish. Eastman held onto his 9th overall, but I ended up losing the KOM jersey by one point. Ah! All in all, a great weekend of racing for us. Next up is the first nations cup of the year with Tour of Flanders on Saturday. We are getting out tomorrow to pre-ride the course. Hopefully Belgium continues to amaze us with solid weather. It's a weird change getting a glimpse of the Belgian sun...I swear it looks the same as the one back in the US though. Until next time!
Friday, April 1, 2011
It's the morning of our first race in Belgium, Tryptique Mont et Chateux. It's a three day stage race with four stages that is for riders under 25 years old. It starts later today with a 170 km road race. The profile is flat but being a race in Belgium it will probably be harder than any other mountain stage. With cross winds and aggressive riders I'm sure the entire race will be a suffer fest in the gutter. This is a pretty big race in Belgium that a lot of good Development squads send some of their top riders too. I've kicked this bronchitis to the curb, and ready to race. Not really sure where my fitness is though, as I have been taken it pretty easy since Croatia. I guess that just means I'm super rested!