Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Atlanta Criterium Series/100K Classic

Labor Day weekend saw no less than FIVE bike races in the ATL. The first four consisted of the Atlanta Criterium Series organized by Spincycle and spread across Friday, Saturday (2 races), and Sunday. While these races were standard, local race-sized fields, Monday's 100K Classic was in stark contrast with a field of 175 riders containing many of the nation's top professional bike racers including riders from Rock Racing, Jelly Belly, Colavita, Team Type 1, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Jittery Joes, Health Net and Rite Aid just to name a few.

Race 1
Lindner Capital was represented by Karel Sumbal in the first of the weekend's four crits. Two riders gained a lap on the field, and Sumbal was able to take second in the field sprint...just missing the podium with a respectable 4th place finish.

Race 2
In the second criterium of the weekend, Sumbal was joined by one of Linder Capital's newest acquisitions: University of Florida student Shawn Gravois. Sumbal was happy to have some help in covering the moves led mostly by DLP Racing's Tommy Nankervis and ever-strong Myogenesis rider Eric Murphy. This time around, a break did form. Eric Murphy, James Lanham (Marx and Bensdorf), Diego Garavito (Latino Cycling) and Shawn Gravois snuck away and gained some time on the field. Sumbal won the award for best supporting teammate covering all of the bridge attempts from the field thereby ensuring Gravois' successful breakaway. Gravois tried very hard to play his best hand attacking his group of 4 in the final laps, but it was not to be. In the end, Gravois brought home another respectable 4th place for Lindner Capital.

Race 3
The third of the four races gained yet another Linder Capital rider with Ryan Saylor bringing the team's tally to three. Attacks flew from the gun, the first being covered by Saylor. As soon as it was brought back, Gravois went with the next and again found himself in a group of 4 gaining time on the field. Similar to the break away in the previous race, the group consisted of Mike Niemi (Metro Volkswagen), James Lanham (Marx and Bensdorf), Diego Garavito (Latino Cycling) and Shawn Gravois. Before the group got too far ahead, Daniel Larson (CycleScience) jumped hard out of the peleton and managed to get across to the breakaway bringing the lead group to five. Seventeen-year-old Mike Niemi had a short moment of weakness and fell off of the pace of the hard charging breakaway and quickly found himself back with the rest of the peleton thus bringing the breakaway group back down to four. Many of the remaining riders were not happy with the breakaway and many more attempts to get across were made. The duo of Sumbal and Saylor made certain none would go without them having to drag a Lindner Capital rider with them--thereby stifling all attempts. Eventually, Saylor was able to slip away with Fucundo Bazzi (Latino Cycling) and race for 5th place. The peleton continued to see attack after attack and each took their toll. Many of the racers fell off the pace and soon Sumbal found himself in a group of 5 chasing after Bazzi and Saylor. Just as in the morning, Gravois again tried his best to suprise the breakaway with an attempt to go for the win solo. Unfortunately, the group would not let him go and brought him back in the final few hundred meters of the race. Four seemed to be Lindner Capital's lucky number for the weekend as Gravois brought home yet another 4th place finish. Saylor could not match the sprint of Bazzi and took 6th place. Super strong Tommy Nankervis (DLP Racing) drug the next group of five as hard as he could toward Saylor and Bazzi and nearly caught them with 600 meters left in the race. Fortunately, Sumbal managed to both sabotage the catch as well as take 8th place for an overall good showing for Lindner Capital with 4th, 6th and 8th places.

Race 4
Team Lindner Captial's Sumbal, Gravois and Saylor were joined by Jeff Kopp and Curtis Long for the last of the criterium quartet. With five riders on the same team, Lindner Capital was fully expecting to easily control the final race of the series. Surprisingly however, they were matched by 5 Locos riders and overrun by a throng of Metro Volkswagen riders. No less than 9 riders wore the blue and black outfits of the Texas based Metro Volkswagen squad giving them roughly one third of the entire field. Controlling this field was not going to be as easy as Lindner Capital had hoped. The race began and immediately the pace was high as attack after attack flew from the field. Within the first two laps, the field has already split into several groups with Long and Saylor representing Lindner Capital in the front group. Long was feeling very feisty and would not rest as the lead group displayed lack of cohesion despite having a decent gap on the next group. Long attacked numerous times until he broke free with Locos rider Oniel Samuals. Saylor was unable to cover all chase attempts of Metro Volkswagen and Mike Niemi was able to slip away with Seth Hansley (Locos). Once the big teams of the race had represenatives off of the front of the race, the pace slowed and Kopp, Gravois and Sumbal were able to regroup with the main front group. For the remainder of the race, Metro Volkswagen set tempo in the field content with just one in the top four. Long, who is having a stellar year, gave Linder Capital another great finish to add to their record with 2nd place behind race winner Oniel Samuals. Hansley bested Niemi for third and Sumbal put in another great sprint in the field to take 7th.

US 100K Classic
("Czech" out Karel on the far right!)

Finally, the 100K Classic was held early Monday morning. To give perspective, the previous 4 races posted $500 prize money for each race to the top 10 finishers. The 100K Classic gave away $20,000 to the top 35 finishers. With no less than 40 professional racers, this was easily going to be one of Lindner Capital's toughest races of the entire year. While most ameteur road races take place on back country roads, the 100K Classic takes place on main Atlanta thoroughfares. Out-gunned by many of the nation's best, Lindner Capital's main goal was simply to finish. If anyone was able to get near the front in the end, it would be a resounding success. Oddly, while there was tons of depth in the peleton the pace would remain fairly civil throughout much of the race. However, there were several times during the race that were very, very hard just to keep contact with the group. Attacks regularly blasted out of the peleton but almost all were fairly short lived. There were a couple splits that saw groups of 20 or so riders gain some ground, until one of the pro teams decided they didn't like their representation in them and would bring it all back together. Heading into the final miles of the race, all five of Lindner Capital's riders remained present in the race despite 50 or so other racers abandoning. Teamwork in a field of this size and depth was exceedingly difficult for an ameteur team. Despite this, Karel Sumbal proved that he could mix it up with the nation's best and nabbed an outstanding 14th place ahead of countless guys who make their living from racing bicycles. Curtis Long also finished a very respectable 38th place—just outside of the prize money. Two more very solid performances showed again that Lindner Capital can perform even at the highest levels of American racing.

P.S. (Thanks to Marni Rakes for the great pictures!)

-Ryan Saylor

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jacksonville Cycling Classic - Curtis Claims Two!

The Jacksonville Classic saw a new venue for 2008 in the town of Nocatee, FL with a 63 mile road race on Saturday and a circuit race on Sunday. Temperatures reached the mid nineties both days and there was no rain to cool the riders down either day. Team Lindner Capital recently joined forces with Sweetbay Cycling forming an even stronger force to be reckoned within the peleton. Andrew Gonzales’ excellent sprinting ability as well as Shawn Gravois’ stellar time trialing will add ammunition to the team’s already stocked quiver.

About 45 riders started the hot road race with both Joel and Daniel Chavez (Preferred Alliance) and the Herbalife squad being the biggest players to watch out for. Curtis Long, Karel Sumbal, Clint Bridier, Victor Rodriquez and Ryan Saylor joined their new teammates Gonzales and Gravois to represent Lindner Capital. The riders rolled off the start line with some trepidation but it didn’t take long before the attacks started flying. Team Lindner Capital rode well and was present in most of the threatening attacks. A group of 7 riders slipped away about 15 miles into the race with the biggest teams being represented. Joel Chavez (Preferred Alliance), two Herbalife riders including Rudy Robaina, Dan Larson (CycleScience), Ryan Saylor (Lindner Capital), Scott Giles (Velobrew) and Shane Braley (Wheel and Sprocket) formed what seemed to be a promising break as the riders rolled quickly and shared the workload fairly evenly. Amazingly, the group was later joined by a lone Curtis Long who admitted later that he held 34mph to catch the break. Panic must have struck the field as they chased hard enough to bring back the hard working break. More attacks ensued and soon it was Grant Potter (Herbalife), Dan Larson and Scott Giles who snuck away and were soon out of sight. The trio worked hard and it looked to be dangerous. Team Lindner Capital made certain to be represented in every chase attempt. Fortunately for the peleton, Giles got a flat tire and Larson couldn’t match the power of Grant Potter so the race again came back together. Another group of 10 guys formed off the front with Victor Rodriquez and Sean Gravois covering the move. The group gained some distance on the group and it was looking like it was going to stick. Karel Sumbal bridged across with Shane Braley to give Lindner Capital good representation with 3 guys in the break. This time the break would not come back. Joel Chavez would not be denied the sprint and took the win with Allison Anjos (Herbalife) and Scott Kuppersmith (Herring Gas) rounding out the podium. A cramping Sumbal still managed to take 5th place with Gravois close behind in 8th. Rodriquez and Gravois worked hard to keep the break going and it was their work that lent to Sumbal’s solid 5th place finish.

Sunday’s circuit race was composed of two 180 degree turns spaced 1.5 miles apart and almost all of the same riders began. Unlike the previous day, the attacks started from the gun. While the initial few were chased down, Scott Giles (Velobrew) and Nate Adler (Fat Cat Bicycles) slipped away without much worry from the group. However, the duo worked steadily together and it didn’t take too long before the group was regretting the gap they had given them. Curtis Long jumped and no one responded. Long, who won the Masters 35+ race earlier in the day, again put in a valiant effort to bridge across to Giles and Adler. However, bring them back by himself was tough going and after a few minutes he was only keeping even with them. Fortunately, Gunter Hermanni (Herbalife) took off after Long and Gravois was there to cover. Gravois and Hermanni closed the gap to Long and the trio then worked to catch Adler and Giles. The catch was made and the five of them put their heads down and with the race’s biggest teams represented (Herbalife, Lindner Capital and Velobrew), the five riders were not going to be caught. All bridge attempts from the field were stifled by Hebalife and Lindner Capital. The Chavez brothers grew increasing frustrated as they were marked by everyone in the field. On the last lap, strategy played into the hands of the only team represented by two people in the break away—Lindner Capital. With Long looking like the favorite in the sprint, Gravois attacked ruthlessly forcing the others to chase while Long was able to stick to the wheels of the working chasers and rest. Gravois was brought back twice before he attacked a third time and almost snapped the rubber band the final time. However, they worked again and barely brought him back—all the while Long was licking his chops at the thought of tasting victory. Assuredly, Long did not disappoint and showed no mercy as he unleashed his powerful sprint on his break away companions. Hermanni was closest followed by Adler to round out the podium. Gravois finished in 5th after a masterful display of cunning tactics. Icing on the cake came from Andrew Gonzales as he attacked hard out of the final u-turn and motored for a mile and a half with a Frank Lopez (Herbalife) to take the very next spot—sixth place. With 3 guys in the top six as well as earning the team’s first pro/1/2 win, Lindner Capital could not have had a better race.

-Ryan Saylor

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

LaGrange, GA - Georgia Cup

Karel Sumbal and Ryan Saylor of Lindner Capital headed up to LaGrange, GA for a Georgia Cup stage race consisting of a time trial, Georgia’s state championship crit, and a road race plus a special bonus crit with a win-and-out format.

Unfortunately, the LaGrange race was competing with better paying races in Tennessee. That, combined with summer heat stifling many racers motivation to race, led to a miserable turn out. Six Pro/1/2 racers turned out for the 1.6 mile time trial. Pro-racer Oscar Hanao (Clinica Union) edged out Gainesville, Florida’s Gary Yates (Naples Cyclery) by three tenths of a second for the win while another Gainesville rider, Brett Miller (Naples Cyclery) took third. Karel took 5th place while Ryan would have earned the lantern rouge position overall had the stage race not been cancelled due to lack of participation.

Next up was the Georgia State Championship Criterium. Bolstered by some masters entrants, the criterium hosted around twenty racers. Henao again demonstrated his dominance and broke away by himself to lap the field by the end of the race. Many attacks flew during the race, but nothing would stick (except Henao). Karel sprinted very well and just missed the podium to take 4th place while Ryan was determined to maintain his theoretical lantern rouge position.

The unusual format of win-and-out was next on the menu. In this race, racers raced the first five laps as they would any other criterium. Then, the winner of every single lap for ten laps won $100 and the race ended on the last $100 sprint—the 15th lap. Once a racer won $100, his race was over. Despite the race being open to categories 1-4, the continued trend of poor participation was again present. With only about 18 riders in the field, over 50% of the entrants were going to leave $100 richer. Fortunately for the Lindner Capital riders, both Karel and Ryan were able to recover some of the weekend’s expenses. Karel again sprinted well for the 4th cash give-away while Ryan attacked the remaining group and rode solo for half a lap to take the next-to-last $100.

The final race was the road race. The race was supposed to be a 102 mile endurance marathon. However, only eight “Pro-Am” riders showed up for the last race of the weekend. With so few riders, the promoter combined the Pro/1/2 riders with the masters 30+ field and shortened it to 68 miles (though they would be scored separately). Lindner Capital decided to team up with the Naples Cyclery riders for this race in order to strengthen its ranks by numbers. The race saw many attacks by Lindner Capital and Naples Cyclery, but the Clinica Union riders chased them all down. In the end, Karel unleashed his powerful sprint and could only be bested by Henao giving Sumbal his first Pro/1/2 podium finish. Temporary teammates Yates and Miller finished 3rd and 5th respectively to add to the team’s spoils.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Florida State RR Championships

This past weekend was the Florida State Road Race Championship weekend. Saturday was the state championships for each age category, and Sunday was for your actual USCF racing category.

On Saturday Ryan, Jeff, Curtis, Karel, and Victor raced in the 30-44 age category (later split out in 5 year increments). Curtis spent the majority of the day in a break which would be caught near the end (a theme for Curtis this weekend)...but, still managed to take 3rd place in the 35-39 category. Karel was 9th in the 30-34.

Sunday Ryan, Jeff, Curtis, Karel, Victor, Clint, and myself represented Lindner Capital in the Pro 1,2 race. There were full squads from Toshiba-Santos, Preferred Alliance, Herbalife and various other regional teams. The course was a 5 mile loop with a couple short steep hills...and a bunch of heat! The race started quickly and we all took turns covering different moves. Drifting back from covering an early break, I see a few guys go up the road with Curtis latched on. This is somewhere around 10 miles into the race.

This break would remain in the lead until about 15 miles to go. Curtis and a Team 19 rider were doing 50-75% of the work, while 4 riders from the three big teams in the race sat on and wouldn't pull...and then try to attack. It's amazing how racing has changed over the past 10 years in Florida. With an influx of foreign riders and their negative riding tactics, the entire dynamic of racing has changed.

Going into the last lap everyone was back together...and then Joel Chavez and John Durango attacked. The remaining Lindner Capital riders were out of position, and with the "Yellow Line Rule" being strictly enforced, we were left to watch them ride away. Strangely, the huge Herbalife squad didn't make an effort to chase and gave the race away. There was one spot left on the podium up for grabs, and coming down the finishing straight it was curb to curb. With nobody able to take control with a race leadout, it was free form chaos. Jeff, Karel, Victor and myself were lined up together trying not to get run off the right hand side of the road...but trying to squeeze through. It turned into a bit of a mess, but Karel was able to storm to a 10th place, while Jeff cruised home in 15th.

It was a rough day, and hoped for a podium spot...but in cycling, even with the best plan and efforts, you're left with the cards you've been dealt. Although we weren't on the podium, 10th place is a great finish and the entire team worked very well together.

Thanks to Karel's fiance, Marni, and Kevin for staying on the course the whole day and handing up water to a very thirsty crowd.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Georgia Cup, Union City

The Lindner Capital Cycling Team headed up to Union City, GA this pat weekend to once again take part in a Georgia Cup GC Race. We really enjoy doing these races because they require you to be a good all-around rider if you want to win. The race involved a 10 mile TT on rolling hills with a few longer climbs, a Crit, and a 91 mile road race that would serve as the Geargia State Championship. Curtis, Karel and Jeff were the only full time team members that were able to go so we brought along our Junior rider, Cody Vance to give him a taste of some Pro,1,2 action. GA Cup races are Pro,1,2,3, although he would be the ONLY 3 in our field. We also asked a friend of ours, Adam Baskin, who rides for Team 19 to ride for us for the weekend. Marni Rakes, Karels fiance raced in the Lindner Kit in the women's 3,4 race as well.

Time Trial
We all new this would be a really tough TT because of the elevation change over the 10 miles so we drove the course on Friday night and got a little feeling of where to push it and where to recover. Jeff turned the second fastest time of the morning running a 21 flat getting the Lindner boys there first podium of the weekend. Curtis dropped his chain in the first 600m and the race director let him re-start and he finished a very respectable 7th.

Saturday evening it was really hot and the field was really small for the Crit so we knew it would be a tough race. When the field is small and strong you have to react to everything. Basically there is no place to hide. So with that Curtis decided to attck on the second lap and see if he could establish a break and that he did. A few riders bridged up to him, including riders from Myogenesis, Clinica Union, and Hincapie Barkley U23. They break sat at 15 seconds for a few laps and when the Hincapie rider was dropped Curtis and the Myogenesis rider pushed the pace and the break was gone. With Lindner Capital, Myogenesis, and Clinica Union controlling the small field there was no way anyone was going to go across to Curtis. Curtis delivered the second podium of the weekend getting a solid 2nd place finish. Karel came in 7th and Jeff 13th. The young lad, Cody did a good job working on the front as we asked him to do and then dropped out with his full pride intact and our respect.

Road Race
Sunday morning came very quickly with an 8am start and we learned that Curtis was in 1st place overall and Jeff was in 3rd. Two riders sitting atop of the GC was very surprising and we new what that meant in the RR. Everyone would attack us and make us work our butts off to win the GC. As we rolled out we new we were in trouble when we saw how many hills there were on the course. Curtis and Jeff are not very small and gravity tends to work against them in the hills. The team did a lot of work on the front for the first 50 miles just trying to control the pace of the race and discourage attacks but at mile 60 we could no longer hold the field back. A break of 3 got up the road and we held it at 2 minutes or less for the entire race but with the day growing hotter and the hills getting longer Curtis and Jeff knew they were in trouble. Karel, Cody, and Adam were lost a different stages of the race on one climb or another. Curtis and Jeff found themselves in a group of 3 in the last 10 miles and went into survival mode just taking turns with hard pulls to limit the time loss. In the end the two finished two minutes behind the leaders Jeff (13th), Curtis (15th). Overall Curtis finished 9th in the GC and Jeff finished 11th. We were pretty discouraged after the race but we were really happy to get two 2nd place finishes for the weekend. Of note, Karel got lost after he dropped out of the RR and ended up riding 115 miles making it bake to the start finish by way of Pick-up truck!

Thank You,

Jeff Kopp
Trek Bicycle Store of Jacksonville
9965 San Jose Blvd. #6
Jacksonville, FL 32257
(904) 880-7227

American Bicycle Company
240 S. Third Street
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
(904) 246-4433