by Ian Sutton
Having just come off four days of hard racing and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, I wasn’t too sure how my legs would feel during this ride. John Naegle who had raced Fitchburg with me was in the same boat, especially after putting in a few attacks during last Friday’s road stage. With a solid crew on board to race (Ken Han, Eric Martin and, John Naegle) and everyone’s favorite late afternoon start time we decided we needed to race aggressively. This was only compounded by the fact that our own Chris Eager had taken the victory in Cat. 3 race with a PRO style leadout train and a big enough margin that he was able to look back a couple times to make sure before throwing his hands up in a well-earned victory salute. But I’ll leave the details of that for their race report.
The course itself was very short, a little under a kilometer in length with a slight and I do mean slight, sweeping rise up to the right followed by a right turn into a bit of a headwind. Then a hard right into a false-flat (I wouldn’t really call it a descent) into another hard right into a quick sweeper to the start finish.
From the gun I rolled up to cover the first move which was almost instantly neutralized. Erik from Cambridge Bicycle came across with me to cover the move and before we knew it we had a 50 meter gap on the field. Nothing serious nor anything we thought would stick that early in the race – however, we agreed to ride the same tempo and see what happens. Just a couple moments later, two riders from Bikeworks/Hallamore bridged across which prompted John Naegle to cover which brought a couple more rider’s whose team escapes me. With good representation in the break and only BRC really wanting to bring the move back our odds looked with about 10 people back in the field working to slow the pace while we increased our gap. However, things are never that simple…
The two Hallamore guys in our move either didn’t want to work, or were simply unaware of how to work in a breakaway. Not to take anything away from them, but it seemed like it was a case of the latter it is bike racing after all and our goal was to make this break stick. John and I took turns being the heavy in the break which meant a lot of yelling at people who wouldn’t pull through, who would sit on the back for too long etc. After about 10 or 15 minutes we managed about a half lap on the field and I knew if we just kept working together we should be able to stick it for the remainder of the race. Then things started to deteriorate quickly.
While taking his turn at the front, Erik lost sight of the pace car and accidently took a wrong turn off the course. While it was pretty funny, I knew we just lost a solid worker in the break and now all of Cambridge would be at the front trying to bring us back. Then, after a few laps sans-Erik the first prime was called. Immediately, I called off the sprint amongst my breakaway companions and the smart people were in concurrence. Then at about 300 meters to the line, some kid sprints for it! To make matters worse, the Hallamore kids panicked and chased after him. Perhaps it was daft of me to think more of upgrade points than a voucher for a pair of arm-warmers…in July. I believe John even offered to give them a pair of arm-warmers if they wanted ‘em that badly. Then about a lap before our break was caught, a guy in a yellow jersey who had flatted was pushed out into the breakaway and not the field. Then, he had the nerve to attack our breakaway! You have to be kidding me; that’s poor, poor form!
Our break had finally dissolved with about 16 laps to go with this guy out there on a solo mission to hold it to the line. My mission was to make sure that didn’t happen. I never dropped more than 5 spots back from the front of the field just to keep an eye on attacks etc. This paid dividends as I covered moves from Spaits (BRC) and Jordan (Cambridge Bicycle) late in the race which somehow ended up with me about 50 meters in front of the field solo which got the team some more air time, though I had no intention of being out there by myself having burned through a few matches trying to stick the break and covering attacks. Cambridge tried to organize a train with about 5 to go and Eric Martin tried to catch them when they were still trying to solidify their position and made a hard effort up the rise but was unable to break free. Finally it came down to the last lap and John and I were still right near the front. NEBC was able to capitalize by getting through the last corner first and then powered the short 300 meter sprint to the line. I stuck John’s wheel waiting to see if he would go and he had a problem with his gears. From there, I jumped wheels and made a hard effort for the line just getting nipped by a Van Dessel rider. I was happy to take third putting QuadCycles on the podium twice in the same race.