Bayou Teche Brewing la Vuelta de Acadiana 2011
The summer up until this point has been filled with criteriums. My last road race was in May! This last weekend, I broke the criterium mold by traveling to Louisiana and doing a full-on omnium. Overall, I had a blast, but was disappointed with the results. I felt like my fitness is at a higher place than what the results show. But I could be blowing smoke, too.
The TT was pancake flat, straight 5 miles with a slight tail wind. It was fast. It was extremely hot, but the course was partially shaded by large cypress and oak trees lining the country road. The fastest 3 did the course in under 10 minutes. I did terrible. I haven’t been practicing the TT discipline since early April, so I was definitely off my game. I came in with a time of 10:40, which is roughly 28 mph. I cam a way knowing I could have done better. This was very frustrating. In fact, on Tuesday of this week, I did the 5 mile TT on a similar course and did it 30 seconds faster. My average power was a full 10 watts higher. I know this extra time was from a total loss of concentration half way through. I could do the effort, but my mind was somewhere else, and I dropped off the pacing I had set. This goes to show that I need to practice this important discipline more often.
The criterium was a great course right outside the host hotel. There were a lot of people lining the street to watch. The course a little ‘b’ in shape, with a 180 degree turn and a loop around a city block. With slight elevation changes and tight corners, it was sure to be a fast race.
I felt really good in the race. I stayed near the front and marked 2 people I thought would be strong in the race. There were 2 major teams battling it out for dominance, so I mostly followed promising moves and stayed at the front. I felt confident for the sprint in the last lap, and made a move to gain about 3-4 places, when I was accidentally shoved into the gutter. To avoid crashing, I slammed on the brakes losing all my momentum. I finish mid pack, but felt good that I was able to contest. Sprints take a lot of skill and some luck, and for this sprint my luck wasn’t there.
The Road Race was pretty disappointing. An early break went up the road, with representation from the 3 big teams in the race. I was very concerned because I felt there were no teams left to chase, and quickly got to the front. I would keep the pace high to keep the break close and in check for my sprinter teammate, Jon. No one else was very concerned about this move, so I was the only one chasing for a while. The problem was, the race was an omnium. There was no reason for teams to worry about time because they were going for points. Time didn’t matter. Even if the 4-man break was 10 minutes ahead, 5th would still get good points. So the podium riders would still keep their overall wins. Unfortunately, my team only had the stage win to think about. This meant we wanted to catch the break. But the peloton consisted of 3 guys interested in catching the break, and another 12 guys interested in blocking.
I was keeping the pace high at around 25 mph (~290- 300 watts) and keeping the break to about 1 minute with minimal help. I began to tire, not being able to keep such a high pace with limited support. The break then started to increase its lead and eventually had 4 minutes on the field at the end. When we figured out we weren’t going to catch the break, Jon was going to try a make it into a late attack that was sure to happen as the top five riders tried to gain points on their opponents. If we could get a top 5-7 placing, that would be a great win for us. Unfortunately, it was not his day, and he sprinted for third in the group , taking 13th on the day.
In the end, some bigger teams did exactly what they were supposed to do by keeping a tight fist on the control of the race. Looking back, I should have known there was no way bring the break back with me and another guy working. the correct strategy would have been to take a chance and gone with the early attacks, knowing that the leaders would not be interested with racers with no omnium points. This is a lesson I have not previously experienced, because the only other omnium I have done, I was in contention for the overall win. It would not have been smart for me to try and break away just so everyone could follow me in that situation.
This post was pretty gloomy, so to cheer you (read me) up, here’s a picture of THE GOD OF THUNDER! THOOOOOOR HUSHOVD. This is currently my background for my work computer! Photo credit goes to Mark Johnson, thanks to Slipstream Sports.