Well, race season has officially started.
Just like last year, Mike and I headed up to Edmonton for the 3 stage race including road race, time trial, and a criterium.
Unlike last year, however, we were both in cat 3 now, and were both entering the weekend with a high level of accumulated training load, so our expectations weren't terribly high.
We were, however, going to do all we could for our teammate, Isaac.
This stage race is a provincial team qualifier and looking at the start list, we could see many high level junior riders had signed up, including Juventus with 7 riders in cat 3. We would have our work cut out for us.
112 km Road Race
One change from last year is that they had us do the road race first thing Saturday morning.
With everyone still in GC (general classification) contention, and fresh legs, the first of 5 laps was insane. In typical Northern Alberta crosswinds, the Juventus and Cyclemeisters young guns put in attack after attack. Much of that lap was spent clinging to the wheel(s) in front of me trying not to get dropped!
It didn't really slow down very much, and guys started getting away.
At one point there was a group of 6 guys up the road with some of the bigger team represented.
Speed Theory was a minority here, but since no one else was making any attempt to reel them in, Mike and I took the charge.
We finally caught them, then more attacks.
During lap 3 I think, a small break formed with 5 guys, including Isaac and a couple cyclemeisters. I dug deep to bridge and made it, but within less than a minute we were caught by the pack.
Lap 4 was relatively calm, but then lap 5 picked up again. A Juventus kid and another guy from PRW broke free.
Going into the race, our team plan was to lead out Isaac to within 200m of the finish.
Rarely do plans work out exactly.
We took the lead with around 5 km to go because up the road a TCR rider had gotten away. Again Mike and I doing hard pulls, even Isaac in front to close it down.
Coming into the final turn, I was at the front of the peloton with a tailwind, realized I had too much speed and not enough angle... I had to make a decision, either attempt to carve it and hope for no gravel, or go into the ditch.
I chose option 2! Went straight in with speed. Stayed up however, and rolled out of the ditch, but the pack had passed. I regrouped and finished the final 1.5 km on my own, finishing about a minute behind.
Mike had lead out after me, but was too far from the finish.
Isaac took the front, but as he faded Ferenc came up past him. Isaac jumped on his wheel for a bit, then proceeded to win the bunch sprint!
Because the 2-man break stayed away, he ended up 3rd place.
9 km Time Trial
Within two hours from the finish of the road race, we were set to begin.
A quick snack, bike and jersey change, and it was time to "warmup" again.
Temperatures in the high twenties, and winds gusting, there were some rough looking souls lining up for this race!
Even in my warmup, I did a couple of race-pace pickups to test the legs. Looking at my power meter reading, I was easily 20-30W lower than what I had been targetting for such a short race! This was gonna hurt...
Well, once I started I hit it a little hard, just to get my speed up in the crosswinds and get my legs spinning fast. I settled in to what I resolved would be my new target wattage, and found myself coming up to my 30 second guy pretty quickly.
I passed him, then around the halfway mark I saw my 60s and 90s guys in front of me. I soon caught the 60s guy, and on the final stretch I started to gain on the 90s guy.
I had been feeling pretty good, considering. Last year, the race was almost 9.5 km, however they had shortened it this year by half a km, so when I came over a small crest and saw the finish line, I had a little too much left in the tank.
Found out afterwards I'd came in 10th place, just 1 second behind Mike!
Considering last year I came in 16th in cat 5 and around 40 seconds behind him, I was actually quite pleased.
Isaac came in 2nd, so his GC position was doing well.
There'd be some more tired legs on Sunday, however it was more of the same from the Juventus lot.
They sent guy after guy up the road, and again, Mike and I pulling them back.
Before I knew it, the race was half over and I'd done way too much work!
Again, our hope was to get Isaac in position for the stage, and try to get myself in a decent finish as well, but the Juventus kids were making it really difficult. When they would attack, the rest of them would block.
At one point, I saw 10 laps remaining. Ok, I'll settle in and recover.
Next lap it said 5 laps. WTF? Maybe a glitch.
Next lap, it said 5 laps again... ok, def. a glitch, it's probably closer to 7 or 8 now.
Next lap, it says 3! Turns out the previous readings were how much TIME was left, prior to the final 3 laps!
Now I'm sitting at the very back of the pack, and thinking how the f*** am I gonna maneuver all the way up.
This course was very technical and I tried to make my way up on each straight section.
Match after match I burned and by the time I got to the final sprint I think I might have made it up to the middle of the pack.
Mike was just in front of me, and Isaac just a head of him.
No podium for Speed Theory in cat 3.
Well played race by Juventus, plus my confusion over the lap/time thing cost us.
Overall, I had a great training load and it was great to measure other racers we'll be competing with all season.
Also, Isaac managed to get a shwack of upgrade points so he can join Marc in cat 2 soon (that is if Marc doesn't get signed by a pro team first!)