Dean’s 2017 Masters Track Worlds Report – Part 2 – 3k Team Pursuit
I’ve looked forward to this event all year after falling short the past two world championships. It’s my favorite event on the track – which you’ll hear from most track racers – and my teammates Matt Gates, Jeromy Cottell, and Andy Lull are all incredibly strong and experienced in this event. Our biggest competition would turn out to be another US team to set up a barnburner final to end my season.
We’d go off in the last heat which gave us the advantage of knowing what time we’d need to make the final. The other USA team that trains on this track went 3:21 in their heat, but the next fastest team was 7 seconds slower. We stuck with our original plan to target a 3:20 but keep it relaxed and build speed in the 2nd half knowing that even with some mistakes we’d still comfortably make the final. I started us, meaning I was in the starting block on the inside most position at the start line and would lead us out the first lap. My starting lap isn’t the fastest, but it’s fast enough and we’d lean on the experience of the other 3 guys to blend in behind me after the start. We planned on Matt and I taking longer 1.5 lap pulls, and if I felt good I’d pull the final 2 laps to finish it off. If I didn’t feel like myself, Matt knew I’d pull off and he’d close out the last lap.
We clicked off a 22.5 second starting lap, and then floated through a number of laps in the low 16-second range. We picked up the pace a little in the final 1k and finished in 3:21 just behind the other USA team so we’d start on the backstretch in the final. We reviewed the lap splits and decided we all felt fine and had another gear if needed. We’d have to go full-tilt in the final to win it, especially if the other team had more in the tank. Most importantly for me, I felt great and could have gone faster. I was confident I was over whatever held me back earlier in the week.
Gold Medal Final
All the thinking and planning was over and it was time to execute. We’d get lap splits from Ben Sharp – Olympic team pursuit coach who took me under his wing for my first ever team pursuit on his Stages Cycling team at masters track nationals two years ago. After the half-way point Ben would call out whether we were up or down on the other team. We targeted 16.0 second lap splits for a 3:19 schedule, and if we felt good there or were down we’d pick up the pace in the 2nd half.
The start went smoothly. I got a good lunge out of the starting gate and wound up my 55×14 gear as hard as I could (1000 watts for the first 10 seconds for power geeks), stayed out of the saddle accelerating before settling into the aerobars at turn 3. I stayed on the gas on the home stretch to finish the first lap knowing that last bit of speed would put us right at target speed when Matt took the front. I heard 22.5 lap split just like earlier, then swung up and down the track for a smooth lead change and felt the draft of the train in front of me. We were all in synch with close gaps flying around the track seemingly effortlessly.
Matt Gates would now pull the next 1.5 laps – keep in mind he was just nearly all-out right behind me the opening lap and now had the job of keeping it going on the front without a break. Matt won the individual pursuit earlier in the week, won all 5 events he entered at track nationals this past summer, and has a pile of national titles on the road as well. Matt rolled through a 16.0 second 2nd lap split and you could feel the speed continue to climb so faster laps would be coming.
Andy Lull from Stages Cycling was now on front – I’d raced my first team pursuit with Andy and he’d been training specifically for this event. We heard Matt’s lap finish at 15.7 which was faster than we targeted but we all felt good and nobody called it down. Andy flew through a 15.6 second lap and rotated off. Speed is 36mph. This was going well.
Jeromy Cottell was now on the front – he’d win the points race world title later this week, 2nd in the Scratch race, bronze in the individual pursuit, and has won national titles on the road as well. Jeromy flew through another 15.7 second lap split leaving me on the front again.
I would ride the next 1.5 laps and at this point instead of lap splits we’d get our first time gaps to the other team. When I heard “up 5!” meaning up five tenths of a second, I was a bit surprised as the other team must be flying too. I felt great maintaining the speed on the front and hoped the time gap would grow. Matt took his final 1.5 laps on front as our lead climbed past 1 second. Andy would now go as hard as he could for his final lap then pull off for good – the way the rotation works he wouldn’t see the front again so didn’t need anything left to catch back on after his lead change. We only needed three riders to finish. “Three!” was heard loud and clear reminding us there were only three of us left. Jeromy now drilled it as I could see him starting to bounce putting everything into his final lap on front giving us another very fast lap. I eagerly waited in his draft for my final turn on front where I’d take us the final 2 laps before the finish. We were up 2 seconds now and I felt great. Jeromy rotated quickly up and down the banking to get on Matt’s wheel and I floated a few pedal strokes before pressing the gas to make sure he was securely on. I started to ramp up the pace for the fastest final 2 laps I could ride, but heard a loud clunk sound and Ben yelled out “watch it!” as it turns out two riders on the other team had clipped wheels causing the 4th rider to crash less than half a lap ahead of us. I saw at least one rider down, wheels spinning, and blue bumper pads sliding on the track in front of me and steered a few feet above them as we whipped around the corner above the red line. A million thoughts raced through my head as to whether it was over, was there another rider to look for, what happens now, but stayed on the gas pedaling steady the final lap before fanning out for a nice finish to secure the win!
I could hear shouts from the other guys before we even saw our 3:17.0 record time. We really nailed it and couldn’t have been happier. We were all smiles during the podium ceremony and received cherished rainbow striped world champion jerseys. I finished my season on the highest note possible which I’m especially grateful for after a rough start earlier in the week. Time for some downtown before winding things back up for 2018!
Thanks for reading,