May 6/12 10:03 am - Chaddock Report: US Speedweek at Electric City Criterium
Posted by Editoress on 05/6/12
Ben Chaddock from Team Exergy is contributing regular reports on his experiences racing on the North American circuit. Ben writes the blog Cycling In A Toque.
It was a hot day today at Anderson, South Carolina, 88 degrees and 90% humidity; the first hot race of the season is always difficult. Often it is the case that the legs feel fresh but the energy levels are low; unfortunately the team’s North Americans experienced those sensations today. Good thing we have two Colombian brothers who grew up in these temperatures!
I think the hardest part of the end of Speedweek is not the transfers or the fatigue of the week’s racing but the change in start times for the final two stages. Our body clocks are pretty set for peak performance between 7-10 pm, so starting the race at our usual 3 pm nap time makes for a difficult transition.
This year Speedweek’s sixth day did not visit the classy suburb of Dilworth, SC (just outside of Charlotte, SC) a course that I enjoyed, as it offered fast technical corners and plenty of shade. Instead, we visited a new venue in Anderson, SC. The one kilometre counter-clockwise course had two significant corners but was essentially a large oval where you could go out and fly your remote control plane. The large grassy field made for very few obstacles to run into if an accident occurred, but it was an unusual vibe for an NCC event. There was also considerable wind exposure and a limited number of spectators (none), so it felt more like a sixty second circuit race rather than a hold-on-by-the-seat-of-your-pants criterium.
Without spectators, there were also no call ups so the race started without much ceremony. So to make sure we got our blood pumping, Tino attacked the field solo in the opening laps and proceeded to secure a 25 second gap on the field. As it turned out, Tino stayed away for 15 of the scheduled 50 laps and earned the Most Aggressive Rider of the day. Awesome ride Tino!
With Exergy representation up the road, the rest of us could ride easy in the pack and try to open our legs; easier said than done though, as the temperatures sapped our legs. Unfortunately, Kenda 5hour Energy’s Issac Howe was taken out of the race on the second lap in a malicious move by one of the race’s amateur riders. Issac is now nursing a broken collarbone and is considering pressing charges again this rider. Either way, I hope Issac gets surgery and gets back on the bike soon. He is having a great season after winning the Sunny King criterium in Anniston, Alabama three weeks ago and is still ranked highly in the NCC standings.
Once Tino returned to the pack, a flurry of prime sprints animated the front of the race. It was difficult to stay near the front today, or at least I was having difficulty in the heat and I was really unable to contribute much to today’s race. I tried to stay near the front and move the guys up through the guttered section when required, but I really didn’t have the gas to cover moves or ride the front.
Shortly after the mid-race prime sprint, which Ivan Dominguez took solo after creating a small five man breakaway in the preceding laps, Competitive Cyclist’s David Williams escaped the peloton. Williams quickly established a twenty second gap and one Wonderful Pistachio rider tried to bridge but returned to the bunch approximately five laps later.
Williams’ gap continued to grow as Team Exergy chose not to work today, instead placing pressure on United Healthcare, Kenda 5hr Energy and Team Cocos, all strong teams who were either interested in the day’s victory or points for the week’s overall Omnium. However Williams’ gap continued to grow and as he neared the tail end of the field, essentially securing his victory by lapping the field, United Healthcare’s Brad White took to the front of the peloton to string it out and attempt to crack the Competitive rider.
However, Williams proved the stronger time trialist today and completed his successful breakaway by lapping the field with 12 laps to go. At this point, Tommy Nankervis took Williams’ to the front of the peloton to protect his team’s victory in the chaos of the closing laps. A great day for Competitive Cyclist, who have had a very rough go of it here at USA CRITS Speedweek after Nankervis’ crash on the opening night and poor luck for the team since.
With five laps to go the pace increased, the guttering started to create gaps, and the entry speeds into the downhill corner 1 heated up with the screeching of carbon brake pads approaching their stopping capacity. In the final laps the guys and I never really got it together today. We were riding close to one another near the end, but with three laps to go we were poorly positioned. The long gutter section and subsequent uphill run to the final corner made it difficult to change positions without a large use of energy and the heat of the mid-afternoon was beginning to take its toll.
On the final lap, United’s three riders hit out hard and the field was dropped; all except Team Exergy’s Carlos. Attacking into the final corner, Carlos won the field sprint ahead of United’s Robert Forster. I managed to finish 14th and Conor 20th. So Carlos proved to be the fastest sprinter in the race today which was a great success; however it would have been nice for the rest of us to help make his day a little easier by positioning ourselves better in the finale.
Nevertheless, we secured good team points for the overall team classification, now just 3 points ahead of Mountain Khakis with 1 stage remaining. Carlos’ lead in the overall is now over 100 points and continues to lead the Lap Leader competition with 39 laps. Tino’s solo break earned him the Most Aggressive Rider award, $800 dollars in primes and he sits tied for second place with Jamis Sutter-Home’s Jackie Simes in the Lap Leader competition at 24 laps. Kevin also finished ahead of his rivals in the U25 competition and now leads that category.
Right now we are completing our two hour transfer to Sandy Springs, Georgia (a small but classy suburb north of Atlanta, GA), in anticipation of tomorrow’s final stage starting at 4 pm. It will be easier to race in the late afternoon tomorrow, as we’ll be able to fall asleep earlier this evening and resume a more ‘regular’ daily routine.
Thanks for reading and I hope you got a chance to exercise today!