Monday, March 5, 2007

Georgia Cup #1 - Albany, GA (3/3/07 - 3/4/07)

Curtis, Jeff, Clint and I headed up to do the first Georgia Cup race of the season. These are well planned, and include at least 3 races over the weekend. The race in Albany consisted of a 3.3k time trial and criterium on Saturday, followed by a 148k road race on Sunday. The field was well attended and consisted of a full Aerospace Engineering pro squad, a VW squad from Canada, a variety of Georgia amateur teams...and single riders from the professional teams Navigators, Health Net, and Jelly Belly (who just returned from the Tour of California).

The time trial was in the morning, and encompassed part of the criterium a little extra...including a round-a-bout at the bottom of a downhill. After seeing some of the earlier riders crash while trying to negotiate the round-a-bout, I made note to not overcook the turn. We all made it through unscathed, with Jeff Kopp securing his first Pro 1,2 podium with a 3rd place! I was able to squeek in for 4th, with Curtis and Clint not far behind.

Jeff almost "towering" over his competition in 3rd place

Considering the short length of the time trial, the gaps were very small going into the late afternoon criterium. The course was a 1.1 mile, 8 turn, windy ride. During the criterium there were 4 time bonus sprints going 3 places deep, 5,3,1 seconds respectively. They rang the bell, and I saw the Health Net rider I jumped on his wheel. He forced me into doing all of the pulling through the last 3 turns, but I still beat him in the sprint. After that huge effort, I was a bit cooked, and went to the back to rest for a while. I didn't take part in the second bonus sprint, but had a go at the third...I was just nipped at the line and got second. Not too long after that effort, the Health Net and Jelly Belly rider took off. They didn't have a big gap, and I wasn't too worried because Aerospace had missed the move, and would logically either pull it back or send someone across. Neither happened, and since this was a time based event...the entire field gave the race away. The last laps were free form chaos...Aerospace went to the front with all their riders to lead it out, and Curtis was right behind them with me on his wheel. Unfortunately, Aerospace wasn't able to keep it strung out, and the last lap was spent trying to stay upright as we were swarmed by everybody and his mother. I haven't seen the results yet, but I was around 8th...with Jeff a few places back.

We weren't able to see the full results of the overall going into the road race on Sunday morning, but thought I was in about 5-6th and Jeff in about 10-11th. Sunday brought weather in the very low 40's, and a bunch of incredibly wicked wind...everyone of us Florida boys were freezing! Each of the laps brought several fierce crosswind sections, with miles of riding in the gutter with no draft...Belgium style. Going into the final 25 mile loop, there was a 5-6 rider break with about a 1 1/2 minute lead. In the longest, most windy crosswind section, Aerospace combined with the Jelly Belly, Health Net, and Navigators rider to put it in the gutter for good! Jeff and I had been fighting all day in the crosswind sections to hold our spots near the we were at least close to the front when the bomb went off. Guys were getting dropped left and right, and there were many gaps that had to be closed. I had to close one huge gap and looked over my shoulder to see the two guys behind me blow...that was the last we would see of the pack. The next several miles consisted of time trialing in the gutter with no draft...and as I came to find out, this would be the same for the remainder of the race.

We caught the front group, which gave us a pack of about 15 or so riders fighting out the finish. Aerospace kept attacking trying to unseat the Jelly Belly rider, but he was getting help from Navigators and Health Net to keep it together. About 2 miles to go Donny Autore attacked and everyone waited. Aerospace decided to chase, and Todd Henriksen started leading it out with 1k to go, with me on his wheel. I knew I was a little too close to the front considering it was a head/crosswind finish slightly uphill...but I didn't want to have to try and come from behind. Spying the 200 meter to go sign I jumped, passed Donny, and thought I may win this one...but Frank Trevesio from Aerospace was just able to squeek by me with the "leadout" I have him. I ended up second, which is good, but will be evaluating what I could have done differently on this one for the rest of the year. As I always say, "You win VERY few, and lose MANY" when racing bikes.

Road race on the left...Frank Trevesio on the right...Keith Norris in the middle...

I ended up 2nd on the stage, 3rd overall, and 2nd in the Most Aggressive category (based on the sprints the day before)...and was the only amateur on the podium for all three podiums.

Second in Road Race

Second in Most Aggressive

Third Overall

Third Overall

Overall we had a very successful weekend, and keep knocking on the door of that first elusive win.