Posted by Editoress on 10/3/08
Tobago Cycling Classic - Stage 5
Report by Chris Atkins
The last epic stage of the Tobago Classic (7900 ft total of climbing) had a posted start at 7:30am. We knew this meant 7:30am island time, which is actually 8:20am. We all got a break from the heat with an overcast morning and cooler temperatures (it was close to 40-degrees two days prior). We would later find that earlier residual rain moisture brought some wet descents after the first few climbs though.
I rode a motorcycle through the last stage, providing support for the mazurcoaching.com team as well as the Canadians riding for the Gremli squad (supporting local rider Emile Abraham). We lucked out with the Kinesis UK team not being able to come to the race with the bankruptcy of Zoom Airlines. Their team manager Chris Truett, and support/physio James Wheble were subsequently there without riders. They ended up generously helping us out and driving our team car through the last stage.
Alex Bhogal of Gremli had ridden the tour last year and knew exactly what to expect. It was funny to hear the response after the third stage from the other riders after a really tough day (3450 ft total of climbing), and how they believed there was no way the last stage could be harder. I think Alex said "you guys have no idea what is coming, it is actually much harder than what we just did...believe it".
Our rider Trevor Connor (who won the stage 2 time trial) had a literal super computer on his bike reading power, altitude, % grade, and also probably gave minute by minute updates of the TSX. It's hard to describe exactly what the riders faced, or even hard for them to remember what they did, from being cross-eyed the whole time. Below is some notable data from the climbs on the last stage.
Moriah - The first climb that split up the field was not very steep - generally 5-6% and had a descent. But it climbed 1385 feet over 13.7K
Castara - The second climb was steeper. It climbed 645 feet in 2.7k for an average grade of 7%
Palatuvier - The third which was the longest, started with 2.5K at 9% average. The whole climb (with a brief descent) was 6.7K with 1235 feet of climbing.
Charlotteville - The crazy one, 1.3K at 14.5% AVERAGE - it climbed 585 feet with a 26-28% maximum grade.
Speyside - The final big climb was a manageable 1.8K at 10.2% with 585 feet of climbing.
There were another seven, smaller but steep climbs in between.
From my perspective on the motorcycle, it took ultra caution and attention just to stay on the road. I came up behind Trevor only to see him misjudge the apex at one turn and drift towards the edge of the road and grass section (he managed to stay up). Trevor took it conservative on the descents, still understandably unnerved from his stage 1 crash. It was impressive to watch him pass all the race notables on the climbs (actually making it appear easy) only to lose a significant amount of time in the descents.
At the finish for Mazurcoaching.com, Trevor rolled in sixth with Jonathon Gormick and Vincent 'Deluxe' Veilleux-Lessard in 14th and 15th respectively. Matthew O'Hagan came in 23rd position and he looked straight at me yelling "THAT WAS CRAZY!" before pulling his bike over.
Other Canadians riding for Gremli came in eighth, 13th, and 26th (Alex Bhogal, Jean-Michel Lachance, and Chris Reid). Chris had a looong day and literally dropped his bike in front of the hotel room where it would stay on its side for 2 days time.
Riders had the following comments:
Trevor Connor - overall impression... it was a very different experience from cycling in North America. It was the sort of race where anything could happen (ie, dive bomb down a descent that was impossibly twisty and suddenly having a flock of chickens run out into the road in front of you...)
My two main impressions of the last day were first trying to get down those wet descents with a non-functioning front brake and nerves on edge... by the fourth time I went off the road I was just starting to find it funny. It was some of the craziest cycling I'd ever done. I remember about two hours into the race finally hitting a flat straight stretch and thinking it was really strange to just put my head down and pedal for a few minutes...
Matthew O'Hagan - the last stage I would argue was the coolest race I've ever done, loved the climbing, even though it was nuts at times, and some of the descending was pretty sketch, and the few times I lost focus and looked out at some of the nicest scenery I've ever seen it took away the pain for a bit.
Jonathon Gormick - stage 5 was absolutely awesome... and this from someone who's not, um... "physically predispositioned" to long climbs. The whole stage was incredible and the surroundings went a long way to ease the suffering over those monsters.
Everyone on the trip had a great time. My personal highlights include putting on the 4-way flashers with some 'spirited' driving and doing whatever you want on the Tobago roads to get back to the race caravan.
Thank you to our sponsor Mazurcoaching.com for their generous support.
|Stage 5 (September 29th):120 km RR|
|1 Emile Abraham (Tri) Team Gremli||3:41:25|
|2 Timo Scholz (Ger) Racing Students||3:41:26|
|3 Heath Blackgrove (NZl) Team Gremli||3:41:27|
|4 Andreas Feistel (Ger) Racing Students||3:41:55|
|5 Tyron Thomas (Gre) Digicel Grenada||3:41:55|
|6 Trevor Connor (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||3:46:47|
|7 Jonas Schmeiser (Ger) Racing Students||3:48:21|
|8 Alex Bhogal (Can) Team Gremli||3:48:50|
|9 Marloe Rodman (Jam) Rafmon Mecalfab||3:48:51|
|10 Bjorn Ruter (Ger) Team Guetersloh||3:54:16|
|11 Daniel Holt (USA) Team Gremli||3:54:16|
|12 Jassette Bromfield (Jam) Team Trek||3:58:14|
|13 Jean-Michel Lachance (Can) Team Gremli||3:58:14|
|14 Jonathon Gormick (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||3:58:16|
|15 Vincent Veilleux-Lessard (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||4:01:50|
|16 Linford Blackwood (Jam) Team Trek||4:08:06|
|17 Sydney Walters (Gre) Digicel Grenada||4:09:41|
|18 Dominic Ollivierre (SVG) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||4:14:14|
|19 Colin Wilson (Tri) Team Trek||4:14:14|
|20 Kevin Alexis (Gre) Digicel Grenada||4:14:14|
|21 Kurt Maraj (Lca) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||4:21:59|
|22 Victor Silberer (Ger) Racing Students||4:21:59|
|23 Matthew O'Hagan (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||4:22:01|
|24 Orano Andrews (SVG) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||4:30:56|
|25 Winston Williams (Lca) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||5:00:49|
|26 Christopher Reid (Can) Team Gremli||5:19:00|
|27 Troy Felix (Gre) Digicel Grenada||5:22:48|
|1 Heath Blackgrove (NZl) Team Gremli||43:26.8|
|2 Timo Scholz (Ger) Racing Students||at 0:20|
|3 Emile Abraham (Tri) Team Gremli||2:08|
|4 Jonas Schmeiser (Ger) Racing Students||8:11|
|5 Andreas Feistel (Ger) Racing Students||8:40|
|6 Tyron Thomas (Gre) Digicel Grenada||13:02|
|7 Marloe Rodman (Jam) Rafmon Mecalfab||14:47|
|8 Trevor Connor (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||21:20|
|9 Alex Bhogal (Can) Team Gremli||22:29|
|10 Daniel Holt (USA) Team Gremli||22:48|
|11 Bjorn Ruter (Ger) Team Guetersloh||27:03|
|12 Jean-Michel Lachance (Can) Team Gremli||28:31|
|13 Jonathon Gormick (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||30:53|
|14 Jassette Bromfield (Jam) Team Trek||36:39|
|15 Linford Blackwood (Jam) Team Trek||41:26|
|16 Dominic Ollivierre (SVG) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||56:41|
|17 Kevin Alexis (Gre) Digicel Grenada||58:53|
|18 Sydney Walters (Gre) Digicel Grenada||1:03:44|
|20 Victor Silberer (Ger) Racing Students||1:05:28|
|21 Colin Wilson (Tri) Team Trek||1:13:18|
|22 Kurt Maraj (Lca) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||1:32:48|
|23 Matthew O'Hagan (Can) Mazurcoaching.com||1:40:33|
|24 Winston Williams (Lca) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||2:29:17|
|25 Orano Andrews (SVG) St.Lucia/St.Vincent||2:33:24|
|26 Christopher Reid (Can) Team Gremli||2:43:18|
|27 Troy Felix (Gre) Digicel Grenada||2:59:41|
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