Monday, March 12, 2007

CVC Crit and Wrap-up

Lots of stage races conclude with a crit--sometimes they are merely a formality, and minimal gc changes occur, and other times, well, let's just say they can be exciting. CVC put on a terrific race this weekend, and the concluding stage was a fun and exciting crit in the old Tower District of Fresno.

In the 2s, where three of us TGI/Hazardous-Waste old men were racing, the gc leader (Joe Wiley) had over a minute on 2nd place. However, there were three Davis Bike Club guys in the top six and two were within striking distance (1:13, 1:18). Cookie was our highest placed gc guy in 13th at ~2:30. Our basic pre-race plan was to ride at the front (always a good idea) and take advantage of the DBC boys racing the way one would expect they should, namely attack the heck out of the gc leader, over and over again, trying to get a gc guy away from him. DBC had six guys total, whereas Wiley had only one teammate, so it seemed like a reasonable strategy would be to alternate attacks in groups of three of them, making sure each time they had one of their gc guys in the move. We would try to cover every move with DBC in it, and help establish a gap and drive it.

Unfortunately, DBC didn't attack. Maybe it was because of the very fast early laps which were frequently being driven by the big motor of Sal Borrego-Crum of CalGiant Strawberries. I like his style--instead of wanking when guys don't pull through, he just puts his head down and ups the ante a couple of mph! Other guys were drilling it too--not attacking, just pulling at 28-30 mph. All this was perfect for gc leader Wiley. MarkZen and I stayed near the front and tried to go with anything promising, but nothing went.

Finally, with 6 or 7 laps to go, a little move got some time, maybe 10-15 seconds. We missed it, and so did DBC. After a lap or two, small groups were trying to jump across and those flurries brought the gap down and the break was just about to be reabsorbed when disaster struck. A DBC guy went first through a corner too fast and slid out and took down the next 10 guys. I was right behind this carnage and to avoid piling on, I had to hop up onto the curb, and come to a stop on the lawn. I then sprinted down the sidewalk and rejoined the other survivors. The gc leader Wiley went down hard and was unable to rejoin the race. Same with Grant Van Horn who was the first victim of the crash.

Meanwhile, the crash chaos provided the break with a more-than-adequate time cushion now with less than 5 to go. Also, since it was within the final 5 laps, gc leader Wiley was not penalized and thus wrapped up the win. Sort of like the Levi rule for Cat 2 hacks.

So now the field was sprinting for the remaining places (5th?) and going into bell lap I scooted up to two Webcor guys at the front who were starting to wind it up. About half way around, I heard Cookie yell out that he was on and for me to take him to the end, so things looked decent for our field sprint. I was hoping the first Webcor guy could go a bit further and faster, but by the corner before the chicane (~500m to go), I couldn't risk the swarm so I went by them and wound it up to the last corner. Unfortunately, it turned out that Cookie was a tad too cooked, so instead of him flying around me for the field-sprint win, four other guys came by. Cookie and I sputtered in for 9th and 10th, and MarkZen finished 13th.

On the cool-down lap, with minimal filter between my adrenalin-flooded brain and my mouth, I lashed into Cookie for what I felt was a mistake, namely asking for a leadout without having the legs to close the deal. I should have been more diplomatic--sorry dude. I think the lesson is that it is key for teammates to make a solid assessment of how they are doing in a race, and make decisions accordingly.

So, here's your Cat 2 crit podium. Congrats to them for strong and opportunistic racing. Interestingly, the guy on the top step (Adrian Gerrits) recently moved to Goleta after graduating from Penn. Let's get him out on our rides 'cause he's obviously a motor and a talented bike racer. Someone should offer him a job though, 'cause word is that he's flippin burgers at In-and-Out. (Of course, if a perk is free food there, maybe it's not so bad after all!)

So, summarizing the stage race, I think we all feel pretty good about the weekend. This was our first race together (other than stinky ol' Mothballs) and considering that, we did pretty well. We came home with eight checks for various stage and gc placings. There's always stuff to improve, e.g., we all need to work on our tt'ing--especially me--because in the end, that was the biggest factor in determining the outcome of this race.

From our vantage point--a restaurant right at the start/finish--the Pro Women's race looked to be very fast and exciting, with all the best teams in the country battling. Sprinting star Tina Pic took a close victory from T-Mobile who had lined up that last lap.

The Pro Men's race also didn't alter the gc outcome any, but it was similarly exciting with Henk Vogels pulling out the win. Sorry to report that the 100+ man field couldn't make it through the U-turn without a few crashes. Here's a pic of them just about to slam on the breaks for the turn...

Happy to report that Cody stayed upright in this crit and finished a strong 11th.

The 35+ crit was epic, and shows that the final crit stage can be a dramatic and significant way to end the stage race. AMD Master Marco Hellman ripped an incredible tt the day before and had the jersey with :18 over Mike Hutchinson, and 1:09 over 3rd place Mike Hernandez. Both Hellman and Hernando had solid teammates, and the final stage was set for the fireworks. Rather than scribe that race for you, I'll suggest you navigate over to Hernando's blog where I'm sure he'll eloquently recap the goings on.

Here are a couple 35+ crit pictures to whet your appetite...

A break with OV, teammate Dan Martin, and AMD's Larry Nolan sitting on.

Could they gain enough time on gc leader Hellman chasing with more AMD teammates?

Parting shots...

Cody and Cookie wondering "Do we really have to wait around for a coupla $15 checks???"

Let me wrap this post up with the sad news that I am no longer the King of Stink. Yes, after three days in Room 111 at the Quality Inn and Suites, the evidence is overwhelming and I am truly humbled. Therefore, I formally abdicate my throne to... it's a tie, both MarkZen and Cookie are deserving winners. I think these two dudes produced enough H2S and CH4 in one three-day weekend to pollute the Central Valley's air for months. That combined with the inevitable increase in global warming they caused will seriously harm the valley's agricultural industry and burn off the beautiful fruit blossoms we saw out at the tt course on Saturday.


Druber said...

Podium Girls? This race has Podium Girls?! Wow. And they appear to "out class" some of the Podium Girls at the spring Belgium races!

Glad you guys are coming home with all the skin you left with.


Jason said...

Good race report. Sounds like you guys had a tough and fun time. Good job avoiding getting taken down in the crit.

alicat said...

That race sounds Mike and I should check out next year.

But the best part of your post was the photo of my teammate, Fred, holding a bottle of Metromint on the podium. Now the question is, did he offer it up to the podium girls??

alicat said...

could we post your photo on our team site as it's a great podium shot of fred? we didn't want to snag it without your permission.

Marco Fanelli said...

alicat, absolutely you can take the picture for your team's site. In fact, when he (Fred) saw me with the camera, he asked about getting a podium shot. Then I totally forgot about following up with him. Glad you happened to notice!

Marco Fanelli said...

Jason & Druber, I didn't mean to suggest that the crit was unsafe or anything (or that we took any risks). It was just some bad luck and maybe a risky choice by the DBC guy that generated the crash. Otherwise it was totally safe and a really fun course.

alicat said...

Cool. You'll be given credit for it on our site.