Wednesday, May 30, 2007

...Athens Video(s)...

Before the melee...

Covering some of the early moves...

James off the front in Athens...1 lap to go...

Right after turn 4 on the final lap...

Courtesy of CycleHardPaul

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Atomic Memorial Day Omnium (5/26/07 - 5/27/07)

This past weekend the while "gang" headed over/up to Tallahassee for the weekend. Jeff, Curtis, Clint, Victor, Andy, our new recruit Wes, and myself were all present for a 3 stage omnium put on by the folks from Atomic Race Team. The race had good venues, but the Pro 1,2 peloton suffered with a small turn out due to racing in other parts of the Southeast, and further the Pro 1,2 field was around 35-40 riders. We were in pretty good shape with 7 guys, but were Preferred Alliance who had 10-11 riders.


The criterium was a large course with a big sweeping downhill turn, which started the first uphill section. The course then flattened out before the sharper uphill section leading into the only real turn to the left, and then onto the finishing straightaway.

Our plan was to have a representative in every break, and be aggressive. During the race there was a "points" sprint that would add to the overall omnium score. As it neared two Preferred Alliance riders attacked going up the last hill, and Curtis latched onto the back. I was able to squeeze through the pack after having to lock up my back wheel to avoid some erratic riders. We made the last left hand turn, and I was able to take the sprint with Curtis nabbing third. The race progressed and Curtis rolled off the front to test the "waters", and was soon joined by a Preferred Alliance rider. They worked well together and started putting time on the pack. A second break formed, which would later be caught, but not before another Preferred Alliance rider bridged across to Curtis and his teammate. Knowing Curtis was a strong time trialist, we were happy with this race situation. There was a time trial later in the afternoon, and Curtis should be able to outperform his breakaway partners in that discipline. This might propel him into the omnium lead. In the end, Curtis took second, while Clint and Andy lead me out to win the field sprint to take fourth. Andy was able to hold on for 9th even after his lead out!

Time Trial

This was held on the same course as the criterium, but with an added downhill section, and then a 180 degree turn that took you back up the long hill and toward the finish. It was a short course, around 2.5-3 miles. In the end Andy took first place in the TT! The pro mountain biker scorched the course...and left everyone else crying about their performance. A bit further back, Jeff was 4th and Curtis 6th.

We didn't receive the overall omnium results, but knew we probably had 2-3 of the top 5 spots. The 95 mile road race the next day would be interesting.

Road Race

This was a 19 mile loop course, with much of it covered by a canopy of large Oak trees. The were some small rolling hills, but no major climbs or wind due to the foliage. This made it a pretty easy course to sit in, and the canopy offered some periodic shade so it never got too hot. The only thing that could add difficulty would be the distance, 95 miles.

After a couple of miles I moved to the front and put in a couple small attacks to see how people would respond. Just as I returned from one, a Preferred Alliance rider attacked and Jeff took off after him. The two started working together, and before you know it...they were out of sight. Now that each of the big teams had a rider up the road, the pace slowed drastically. This was fine with me...especially with me trying to find fitness and get in some long miles. Throughout the day we never received any credible time splits, but knew they were pretty far up the road. We think at one point they were around 10 minutes! The rest of the pack finally put together a chase around lap 3...but it would prove to be too late. Jeff was able to hold onto the diminutive Preferred Alliance rider until a hill about 2 miles from the finish...and then his 210+ pound body would have no more! Jeff then put it into time trial mode through the finish to take second on the had to have hurt...a 90 mile breakaway with two riders...awesome!

Curtis sacrificed his overall chances to try and lead me out in the field sprint. Curtis went early with Victor on his wheel...and just as he was winding it up at 40 mph (yes, 40) a Preferred Alliance rider came from the left and ran me off the road into the grass! I was able to stay upright, and hop back onto the road. By this time the sprint was full on, with a swarm coming from the left...I sprinted hard and was able to salvage a 3rd in the sprint, and a 5th overall for the day. I was lucky not to crash, especially at 40 I guess we were very fortunate...

Jeff "Huge Draft" Kopp playing with the kids...


In the end I was 3rd, Jeff 4th, Curtis 5th, with Andy finished 9th in the omnium.

Overall we did pretty well, but all of us being competitive, are never totally satisfied unless we've won. Looking back we did achieve our goal, with 1st in the TT, 2nd in the criterium, and 2nd in the RR.

Here's an article in the Tallahassee Democrat interviewing Jeff

Tallahassee newspaper pictures from the criterium

Our next race is in 2 weeks at the Florida State Road Race Championships in Ocala...until then...


Monday, May 21, 2007

Florida State Criterium Championships (5/20/07)

(Thanks to Team19 for these pictures!)

Florida State Criterium Championships
(Masters 35-44, 30-34)
This race has been held the last several years in Lakeland, FL. The course is 4 corners, with a very fast downhill section into turn 3 followed by a long uphill drag to the finish out of turn 4.

Due to a host of issues, like Curtis having a sinus infection and on heavy antibiotics, Clint getting some sort of bacterial infection caused by food poisoning, and me only having one week of riding in the legs after 2 full weeks off the bike...we decided to try to win a Masters state championship as a first priority, with results in the Pro 1,2 secondary. "A bird in the bush, etc." get the picture.

The Masters 30-44 race was first, and it was stacked! Herbalife had the same idea we did, and had 6-7 strong riders. Also in the race were full squads from ASV, Team 19, and many other riders making up a very large field. Since there was a state championship for 30-34 and 35-44 in the same race (but scored seperately), we had two shots at a state title. For ABRT we had Jeff, Victor, and myself for 35-44...and Curtis for the 30-34 category.

I've won the age graded state time trial a couple times, and the age graded road race a couple times...but, never the criterium! I've been 2nd and 3rd many times...and was hoping for a change. Also, Curtis has won the age graded time trial, and has been either 2nd & 3rd each time he has done the we were both hoping for at least one of us to pull off a win!

The race was pretty fast with a lot of attacks. It seemed like there were constant attacks througout the entire race, but either Curtis or myself were in 90% of them. Victor wasn't feeling well, so after taking a couple premes he dropped out. Also, Jeff started having problems dragging his 210+ lb fame up the long hill on the front side of the he called it a race. With 3 laps to go Brian Lancaster from Team 19 attacked...I knew this was a good move, and Brian's a very strong rider. So, with 2 laps to go I saw Curtis at the front after being realed back in from another breakaway I jumped hard into the first turn and sprinted off in pursuit of Brian. I didn't catch him until turn 1 going into the last lap, he pulled through turn 2 and halfway down the back straight. I then pulled the rest of the way down the back straight and through turn 3 and turn 4. Coming out of turn 4 I jumped hard up the right hand side and he didn't respond, so I kept going hard all the way through the line for the win. Curtis sprinted in and placed second in the 30+ category...which is amazing considering how sick he was...I didn't even think he would make it too the race!
James being interviewed for Univision/Telemundo

Florida State Criterium Championships
(Pro 1,2)

Curtis and Victor opted to sit out the Pro 1,2 since they both weren't feeling too well. In the Pro 1,2 we had Jeff, Andy and myself. The race was fast, and also had a lot of attacks. During the last part of the race there was an eight man break up the road...and Andy was in it. This break should have been gone...there were 3 Peferred Alliance, 2 Cyclescience, 1 NERAC, and a couple others along with Andy. It turns out the Preferred Alliance guys didn't like the make up of the break and quit working. I guess they liked losing better, because even though they had 12 guys in the race...they didn't even get a podium placing. Anyhow the break got caught, and going into the last lap Andy brought me close to the front. I was cramping pretty bad in the sprint and ended up 13th...and they paid 12 places. Andy rode an awesome race, and if it hadn't been for the lack of knowledge on race tactics by others, he would have had a great shot at placing top 3.

But...we achieved our goal for the day, and that was a state championship jersey! We also had a silver medal with Curtis, so in all we can't complain too much.

P.S. Oh, and this was my birthday!