Monday, July 13, 2009


Here is one rider's rather belated Fitchburg race report, sorry to have such a long gap in between posts but here's a nice long one to satisfy your hunger for news of the NorEast Elite Team.

Going in to Fitchburg we weren’t really sure what to expect, the change of the road race to a finish on the feed zone climb rather than up Wachusett would take out some opportunities for big time gaps but might make the road race a lot harder with people saving less for the final climb. The time trial was new as well, a 9 mile out-and back that was flat with a few gentle rollers.
Although we’ve been having pretty terrible weather all summer, the fog and mist that greeted us at the start of the TT was particularly nasty, especially with the accompanying cold temperatures. We had an almost full team of 6 guys in the 2’s, with Rudy squaring off against the nasty-looking p/1 field. Warming up we were pulling out leg warmers and jackets and cranking up the techno.
I went off right in front of Dylan McNicholas, the odd-on favorite for the 2 race which meant I was resigning myself to being passed by at least one person. Rolling out of the gate I felt decent, and rode the course OK, just didn’t have great legs. Slight excitement occurred when Dylan caught me and I caught my 30 second man right at the turnaround, but everything went smoothly and I ended up about 40th, around a minute and a half down.
With one race in the books we prepped for the circuit race. With no GC contender, Rkelly suffering from sickness and a busted hip from the Giro di Jersey and Rossman a bit under the weather as well, we didn’t have a real plan and that lack of preparation ended up causing some problems, although our only stated plan (“don’t let Dylan (McNicholas) win” –Josh) ended up failing as well. A bit break went in the first third of the race, and to everyone’s surprise ended up staying away after the top 2 on GC bridged up to it with a few laps to go. With nobody on breakaway duty and all of us sort of assuming the break would come back, we missed the 14-man moved and ended up sprinting for 15th. I think we ended up with 19th, 20th, 21st, and 24th. Without a break that potentially would have been 5th,6th, 7th, and 10th. Of course, it probably wouldn’t have worked out like that but we can pretend it would have, right?
For the road race we got a bit more organized, with Carbonetti and Josh trying to get in an early move, Ben and I on late-break patrol, and Rossman and Ryan seeing how they felt. After a bunch of attacking right out of the gate, nobody was up the road and Ryan’s hip gave out the first time up the climb- down to 5. We were all active and would make little breaks that would come back together, and although a move finally went with maybe 5 to go without us we were pretty confident it would come back. I was keen to get in a move as last year I was off for the last 3 laps and was caught halfway up Wachusett, so hopefully this year things would stick. I finally made the break this year with just over 3 to goand things were looking good- the 3rd placed rider in the TT was there, and a few other guys were taking good pulls as well as we started picking off riders from the early break. For whatever reason, we weren’t getting timechecks to the field, just the solo leader who was holding about 1:30 over us.
Unfortunately, we were caught at the base of the decent on the last lap and I was officially 0 for 2 in promising-looking breaks at Fitchburg. Cramping, we all tried to finish as best we could in the sprint- myself, Ben, and Josh, in the sprint for 2nd. Mostly we were just smoked and happy to finally cross the line and get a cold coke. Thanks to everyone cheering us up the feed zone climb (Tom Luther) as the shouts of encouragement were much appreciated.
With nothing to show for our efforts so far, we toed the line at the crit, thankfully the 3rd sunny day in a row and a minor record for this summer. Our plan was to be as aggressive as possible and try to pull something off. A few laps in I tried to bridge to a break, made it halfway then sort of stagnated and was eventually pulled back. For most of the rest of the race I was at the back. I just asked Rossman who is sitting next to me how we were riding the crit as I wasn’t seeing much of the front to which he replied “ALWAYS AGGRESSIVE.” Use your imagination.
With 9 or 10 to go, there was a big surge and I found myself slung around to the very front- someone in front of me put in a dig and I went with him. We realized we were off the front and started rotating well. Then we realized we weren’t coming back right away and settled in a bit- I was hoping to set up Ben who had talked about a last-lap flyer. The lap cards started to stick down and while I was feeling the effects of the break the day before, I was stoked to be off the front at Fitchburg. With 2 to go, we realized we were probably made it and knew for sure when our 15 second gap was still in place on the final lap. My breakaway companion looked a lot bigger than me, so after pulling through the final two corners into the long, headwind/uphill drag finishing straight, I slowed down and hopped on his wheel when he accelerated. Coming into the finish I was sitting right on his wheel, and I jumped as hard as I could with about 75 meters to go. Unfortunately, he’d been watching me and as soon as I went, he accelerated and held his advantage to the line, beating me by maybe a wheel length.
While the win for the team would have been great, I was happy with 2nd- we shared the work evenly, he led out the sprint and simply beat me so I can’t be frustrated with how I rode. I also found out later that he was a very strong track rider so I felt less bad about my loss in the sprint.
I’m writing this from a hotel in Quebec, where a contingent of the team (myself, Rossman, and Rudy plus guest riders Patrick Goguen and Chris Hillier) are holed up waiting for the second day of racing tomorrow.
We have marveled at milk sold in a plastic bag, enormous speeding penalties, maple frosted mini wheats, ridiculous haircuts, the French language, and the difficulty involved in getting from our hotel to the start of the race 10k away. Rudy had a good dig to bridge to the break that went on the last lap but didn’t quite make it while the rest of us suffered in the heat (what, heat? In Canada? After a cold wet summer a few hundred miles farther south?) and Pat experienced a 70 mph tow on the neutral support truck back to the field after they fixed a broken chain. More reports to come as the race progresses.

*Update: due to internet issues, I wasn't able to publish this when it was written so we've actually finished the ToQ... race report coming soon.