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 North...so the Pro 1,2 field was around 35-40 riders. We were in pretty good shape with 7 guys, but were outnumbered...as usual...by 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 day...wow...that 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 mph...so 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...