Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Reading 120 and Doylestown Crit

This past weekend the Lupus Racing Team raced the final race of the 2016 season at the Reading 120 and Doylestown Crit. These two races are some of the toughest on the calendar, and are also two of the most beautiful races. The road race goes through picturesque farm country of Pennsylvania, and the crit takes place in a beautiful downtown Doylestown.

The road race, like its name says is 120 miles long and features rolling country roads. We did two 45 mile loops, and the last 30 miles of the road race takes place in Reading where we do 3 laps of the Mount Penn climb. The race took place in scorching heat and humidity. The pace started off fast from the gun with attacks like all races do. The plan for the day was to put me, Evan, and Matt in breaks and keep Chris, Joseph, and Nicolai fresh for the finale. It got really tough covering moves and at one point before an hour into the race I felt like I was cracked. We went on some downhill, slick roads, and there were a few crashes in turns. Then we approached a crosswind. The combination of these two things led to a split of about 30 riders where we had everyone on our team except for me and Chris. This was a good move. Holowesko didn't have many riders in the split, so I watched for some of them to bridge across. However, the race took a wrong turn through a town and the field neutralized. As soon as it came back together attacks happened again, and I found myself off the front with 2 UHC, 2 Rally, and 2 Holowesko riders. I didn't like my odds in that situation, so I opted to do zero work. We went up the longest hill in the opening circuit and a few more riders came across, one of which was Joseph. That gave me the green light to work, but I did not want to do ridiculous work because we still had ~80 miles to race. I was also still feeling exhausted from covering the early moves, so I thought I better eat and not work too hard. Throughout the rest of the lap I did just that. We rolled super easy over Mount Penn, and by the time we started the second loop my legs were good. With about 60km left to race I was feeling good and thought the bigger riders in the group were suffering, so on all the hills I pinned it at threshold to make them hurt. Whenever we reached town Joseph gave me a coke, and Adam de Vos of Rally attacked at that moment. This put me on the back foot at a crucial moment in the race. I needed to burn a match just to make contact again. As soon as I made contact another attack came and that spelled the end of my day in the break. As the team car passed me on the climb I was loaded up like a camel in the desert with a Coke for Chris, and 3 water bottles. I tried my best to go up the climb hard and make it to the top, so I had a chance to give Chris the Coke and water if he wanted it. However, Nic came flying past me in a small group and soon after Chris came by following an attack as well. There was no way I could get him his Coke. I was cracked and wanted to finish the race, but the groups still riding were drilling it, so I decided to save the legs for the Sunday crit. Oscar Clark and Eric Marcotte from my initial break ended up staying away to the end taking first and second respectively, and Holowesko took third through fifth as well. Nic was our best rider in 7th position after a really tough day on the bike.

The Doylestown Crit is one of the toughest crits on the calendar. I am not sure if the race is so tough from the aggressive racing, the fact that it is the longest crit on the calendar, because the crit is half uphill and half downhill, it is the last race of the season, or if it is because it is the day after the hardest one day race on the calendar. Perhaps all these factors play a role in making the Doylestown crit hard? The race was 60 miles long, so we did 47 laps on the downtown circuit that had fans cheering all around the course. The plan for the day was a simple one; Phil wanted us to be present in breaks throughout the race, and he wanted us to help Evan if the race came down to a field sprint. We all did a fantastic job covering breaks throughout the entirety of the race and were present in all the dangerous moves. With 35 laps to go there was a big crash in the tight portion at the top the the course, and an ambulance needed to be called. That meant the race had to be restarted, and all the riders who were at the front of the peloton now restarted at the back. This annoyed me, but I fought my way through the riders to eventually make it back up to the front about 7-10 laps after the restart. Once back at the front I got back to covering moves and Evan and myself found ourself in a lead group of about 10 riders with 15 laps to go. This move ended up sticking until the finale. With 4 laps to go Evan attacked with a UHC rider, and it looked like he would stay away until the end. However, Shane Kline of Rally chased hard and brought it back. I countered with everything I had at two to go, but wasn't able to make the move stick. Matt countered me, but he was also reabsorbed. I followed Shane Kline until about 300 meters to go. Then Chris came around me with Evan and Matt on his wheel. I was sure we were going to at least end up on the podium, but Evan used his finishing legs in his final break. Matthieu was our best finisher in 8th, with Evan 11th, Chris 12th, and me in 20th. We had a solid ride with super teamwork both days, but we just fell short of getting the result. It was a really great way to end the season.