I am happy to report that Alberto managed to hold his lead (thanks to the weather) and secure a major victory for the Burris Logistics – Fit Werx squad. We are really proud of the job the entire team did in this year’s race. What follows is a race report from stage 3 from both Christian Verry and Alberto:
This is long, so get comfortable. I love writing these things…usually. Today I definitely do.
For some of us it was a great day, for some it was one mishap after another. As was probably evident form Alberto’s email yesterday, Saturday’s race was boring aside from all the crashes. As usual based on prior years, it made little difference in overall classification. Based on previous years I knew today really made the GC, so I was hoping for big things from the field, and for a hard day with attacks. I wasn’t disappointed.
Alberto was really our only hope, so I wanted to try and do whatever I could to make that happen. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much, but figured I might have a few opportunities to do something. Race started once we got on 100. It was a brisk start, but not super fast. Soon into the race I saw Tim Noel pull off the side of the road with what I thought was a flat (more on this later). I hoped he would make it back on before the KOM came. Route then turned onto 100 over “Duxbury Gap” where the KOM was the same as it usually is for the “normal” circuit course.
Alberto lead the field into the left hand turn, and the group climbed at a hard but not brutal pace. Over the top we descended fast and hit the left hand turn that would take us over the dirt section. The pace on this section was fast as hell, and strung the entire field out into a single file, with gaps opening up along the way. I had to bridge a few to stay on the main pack, and had to work hard the entire way just to stay in. We turned onto a short bridge, then over a section of what they called gravel, but what I would call rocks. This slowed the field, and also took at least one victim, known as Matt’s tire. “Sorry Matt,” was all that I could muster up in my head as I saw him pull over to wait for the wheel vehicle.
The field then took off again, and stayed fast all along route 2 until the hot sprint. It slowed briefly and I went to the front to avoid trouble with the train tracks at the turn onto Cochran Road. After the turn I sat up a bit, and pulled alongside Alberto to get a “lay of the land” and ask him who he was worried about. If you’ve ever tried to hold a conversation with Alberto while he’s riding, you know you stand a better chance of understanding a 3 yr old child. His voice is about as loud as a single cricket chirping at night. This proved a useless conversation, and I told him just to tell me yes or no with whatever went if he wanted me to chase.
Once on Cochran Rd, people got antsy and attacks where happening all over the place. I kept looking for Alberto to see if he wanted to go, but it proved to be too frustrating, so I just started going with any break if the gap got to be too large. This offered me all kinds of opportunities to burry myself for periods of time and bridge up. Fun stuff indeed, but not great for if you plan to climb the gap hard. Regardless, I did it, and loved every minute of it. I have no idea if this made any difference in the end of the race, but I wasn’t willing to find out by not doing it.
Once the race turned onto the climb up Hinesburg-Richmond road I was spent, and drifted to the middle of the field to rest and hydrate a bit. I was glad the field did not climb this super hard as I might have been sacrificed if it did. After the climb life got much easier as things slowed up as the field headed into a strong South headwind. I needed the rest and the liquids and pounded my water bottles down. Things got really boring, as we were about 2-3 miles from 116 until I saw Alberto ride off the front. He got about 500M on the group before one guy bridged up. Shortly after that another guy did. That was the last we saw of them more or less.
Once on 116 we stayed together as a group, and one guy went off the front to try and bridge the gap – he did it after TT’ing solo for about 5 miles – impressive. We hit the base of Baby Gap and the fun started. I was pretty wiped, but stayed with the main field ~3/4 of the way up baby gap, at which point I got shelled.
By the time I rolled past Burris handing out liquids I must have looked like death warmed over.
From there on up it was just hooking up with one or two or 3 other guys along the way, dropping them, getting dropped, and barely making it to the top. This must have been the slowest I have ever done this climb, but it was worth every minute of slowness, as chasing those attacks was lots of fun.
In the end, Alberto took 3rd for the stage, and IS NUMBER ONE IN THE GC BABY!!!! Burris Logistics-Fit Werx represents my friends! We are leading the GC going into the last day!!! Alberto will certainly be a Category 2 soon, but for now we still have him in the 3’s, and can enjoy killing ourselves to help him win. Fun fun stuff.
Tim and Matt had tougher days. Tim’s mishap early into the race ended up being a broken rim suffered from hitting a large pothole. He got a wheel from the vehicle, but the reality of catching the field as we hauled ass down 100 to the KOM was nill. He then had the pleasure of discovering he had a slow leak in his rear tire as he climbed over Duxbury, AND that his water bottles had bother jumped out of his cages when he broke his rim. Alas, he struggled on to Richmond, where nobody would hook him up with a spare bottle, and that was the end of his day. A wise move. Matt flatted as previously mentioned, and still managed to finish as he hooked up with a few other guys. This was impressive given the heat/humidity, and the south headwind.
That’s it folks. Now on to tomorrow, where I will certainly prove useless to Alberto in his pursuit of the yellow, but hopefully others (Matt, John) can prove larger allies than I. More to come, stay tuned……
Here’s how it went down from my perspective:
First of all, I speak quite loudly on my bike. Christian just has too much wax in his ears.
Second, I took off on the Richmond-Hinesburg Road when the pace was ridiculously slow and I saw that the yellow jersey and the #2 GC rider were boxed in on the right. I quickly got about 30 seconds and was able to maintain that for about 4-5 miles without exerting too much effort. I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it by myself to the end because of the ferocious headwind and figured either some strong riders further down on the GC would bridge up or at the very least the yellow and #2 would need to spend some energy pulling me in. Luckily, it was the former and a group of 3 bridged up with 2 guys who had diesel engines on them.
The four of us (and then a fifth who bridged) took even turns pulling into the wind and had 3 minutes by the base of the app gap. It turns out that I needed every second of it 🙂 I don’t know the details but I have to assume that we had some help from Christian, John and the ORS guys to keep the field back and let us get that big of an advantage. Unfortunately, Matt and Tim were no longer in the field. Anyway, the two diesel engines (all 190+ pounds of them) quickly fell off the pace on the App Gap, and I pulled the remaining two from Rt 116 all the way to the 2km to go sign. No joke. I knew they were both way down on GC so I just wanted to get as much time as possible on the yellow jersey and #2 so I did not care if they passed me at the end. Well, they passed me gaining about 15-30 seconds (which was very manageable) and I think I ended up about 40+ seconds in front of the #2 GC rider. I needed 20. As I said previously, I needed every last bit of that 3 minute advantage 🙂
Anyway, this has been a fun weekend…so far. Tomorrow is going to hurt. (Well we know how tomorrow turned out!)