Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Steamboat Springs Stage Race: Racing against the pros.

Since the rules thing has apparently gone out the window, I suppose I'll use this blog to write an extended race report for the past few days.  I spent Labor Day Weekend in Steamboat springs, and competed in a 4 Stage race.  This is my 4th race as a Cat 2.  My previous 3 have ended in:  dropped on the 2nd of 9 laps at Salida, dropped on the 4th (maybe 3rd?) of 8 laps at Air Force, and ended up in the winning break of 8 at the Primal Crit, but sprinted on the wrong lap.  Riding in the p12 field is RIDICULOUS out here, but I really love it, and I hope I can continue to improve and become more of a player in these races.

Stage 1 wasn't actually a stage but rather a 10km prologue TT.  It was windy, and mostly flat with a 3-ish minute hill at the end.  My time of 13:16 was good enough for 27th place, and put me :57 behind the winner, Peter Stetina.  Just for a comparison, 31st place in our field would have won the SM3 time trial by 4 seconds.

Stage 1 for reals.  Circuit race, 4.5 miles, 10 laps but 11 times up the hill.  The very first hill was enough to start shedding people. I got dropped on the 4th lap when Stetina launched an attack that made my head spin.  I knew it was coming when he dropped back from the front in order to slingshot himself forward, but nothing could prepare me for the subsequent acceleration the entire pack made to try to hang on.  WHen it became obvious that I wasn't going to catch back on after the descent, I sat up and waited for the inevitable groupetto.   Through awesome luck I was caught by a group of 3 strong, determined chasers.  I worked as hard as I could, but I was lucky that the others in the group were considerably stronger than I.  We managed to catch the main field halfway through the final lap.  I got dropped on the final 3-ish  minute climb almost instantly, but was only a minute or so down from the main pack.   There was a group off the front by many minutes too.  I've never been so happy for an almost pack finish.  It was great.

Stage 2.  Road Race.  70 miles.  The first  50 were rather boring, but I'll take it.  There was a group of 3 off the front that had 3 minutes just after the first feed zone.  Some teammates and I went to the front to reel some of it in.  By the bottom of the hill we had put 40 seconds into the break, but I paid for it when I fell off about halfway up the hill.  The group did eventually catch the break, and I caught up with 3 others for the trip home to the finish.  2 of us were willing to work, but the other guy got a flat, so I just TT'ed all the way home, dragging whoever was willing.  I ended up losing about 5 minutes on the group, but only 1 place on GC.  Not horrible, and I'm telling myself that it was better for our team leader that I worked to catch the break instead of defending my 23rd place on GC.  It was nice to be useful.

Stage 3, the Crit.  Oh God.  Holy Shit that was fast.  At one point there was a break up the road.  I tried to bridge my team leader up to it, but when I was about halfway there, some guy from the bridge group attacked.  The teammate was able to hold his wheel and make it up to what was eventually the winning break, and he got 2nd.  I spent the rest of the day sprinting as fast as I could just to stay in the peloton, but I managed to do it, and finished in the pack.  At a few points in the race I was hanging by a thread, but it ended up ok.

All in all, a great race.  I'm sad that there isn't any racing until at least February, but I'm also glad to take a break, eat some donuts, and regroup for next year.

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