Monday, March 24, 2008

Webster Roubaix

"Fifty-one men showed up for the 105 mile long Webster Roubaix road race, known for it’s 2.5 mile long dirt road stretch on a 9 mile long loop. Conditions were near perfect with a temperature around 60 degrees and overcast skies. Many of the usual suspects of Florida racing were present including Herbalife, Preferred Alliance, and Blue Star as the major players with surprise visits from Scott Tietzel (Jelly Belly) and Daniel Holt (Team Type-1). Team Lindner Capital was represented by Karel Sumbal and Ryan Saylor.

The race started off neutral in the middle of the dirt stretch. Once the last rider hit the pavement, the race officially started and the attacks began to fly. One group of three slipped off the front and lingered about 30 seconds off the front of the group as Herbalife and Blue Star set tempo to keep them from gaining too much of a lead. After a couple of laps the trio were safely back in the group. Unfortunately, Ryan Saylor suffered a broken spoke at the end of the second lap and despite a fairly quick wheel change could not catch back up to the field.

On the 5th of 12 laps, six men escaped the grasp of the field for good. Daniel Chavez and Chris Keen (both of Preferred Alliance), Joel Chavez, Bobby Sweeting (Toshiba/Santo), Daniel Holt (Team Type-1) and 16-year-old Mike Niemi (Metro Volkswagen) rode steady and were soon out of sight of the field. Although Herbalife missed the break and had 3 riders on the front of the field chasing, it simply wasn’t enough. The break away continued to gain advantage. Then, during a moment of lost concentration, University of Florida student Chris Keen overlapped wheels with fellow Gainesville resident Mike Niemi in a turn and lost control and crashed taking Daniel Holt down with him. Holt quickly scrambled and was able to regain contact with the break away but Keen was out of the race leaving only 5 men in the breakaway.

Meanwhile back in the field, more attacks came as racers wanted to at least form a chase group. Eventually, Alison Anjos (Herbalife), Ricardo Hernandez (Blue Star) and Sean Coleman (U.S. Military) slipped away to form a chase group and Garrett White, Adam Baskin (Team 19) and Donnie Autore formed yet another chase group. While Karel Sumbal was active in the closing laps trying to get in a late move, all were reeled back in by the field.

Bobby Sweeting (another University of Florida student) surprised the crowd and out sprinted Daniel Chavez to take the win. Daniel Holt took third, Joel Chavez forth and Mike Niemi took 5th.

With two chase groups of three between the breakaway and the peleton, the field was now sprinting for the last money place of twelfth. Andrew Gonzolas graciously took that money with sprinters Frank Lopez and Karel Sumbal close behind to take 13th and 14th places respectively ahead of the hard charging field."

-Ryan Saylor