This race ended up being a great time... the weather was moderately hot, but nothing too severe... Twenty two Cat 1,2 racers lined up to take on 108 miles of the expansive Iowa country side near West Branch... Basically the Iowa Big Four and then three solo riders... Bikes2You had 7 guys, Mercy-Specialized had 4, Zealous had 5, and American Equity ended up with 3 (me, Paul Deninger, and Carson Christen). We were out numbered a bit, but I still had two more guys to work with then I did last year, so I was stoked about our chances to get one or two of us in the top ten paying places...
So, we decided to put Paul in the 'Suicide Break'... A Suicide Break is a group of riders that launch off the front early in a long race... either they are going to end up winning, or die trying... the odds are usually stacked against them, so it is sort of like 'suicide' for those involved... the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of the team tactic... Basically, each of the four teams were represented (Paul-American Equity, Adam Price-Mercy-Specialized, Kurt Hantleman-Zealous Racing, and Will Greenwood-Bikes2You/World of Bikes)...
It was looking really good for us, because, in my opinion, Paul was the most likely to pull off the win if this break stuck... They were out there for many, many miles... as there were only three guys not on a team left in the break so no real chasing... From time to time, one of the solo riders would set tempo, or even attack... There were a few attempts to bridge up as well, so I had to stay attentive and got caught out a couple of times... This kept the break on a fairly short leash, but they got out to about 8 minutes at one point. The field was mostly 'sitting up' waiting to see if the break would work together and hold on for the win, or if it would get caught. Unfortunately for the breakaway, the Zealous Racing rider (Kurt Hantleman) got dropped at some point, and that changed everything, as now there was a motivation for the field to chase... Still, Zealous were now obligated to do the work to bring back the break, as they were the only one's not represented... so Paul was still delivering a great effort for me and Carson.
Zealous dutifully rotated their guys through, as Paul, Will and Adam Price stayed up the road... Their move still looked promising, as we were within the last lap. I was glad to have Paul on my team, as me and Carson were still in a favorable position... when Adam popped, however, that put his teammate Jeff Barnes on a mission to reel the remaining two break-away riders in... Paul and Will were still up the road a couple of minutes, but I think Will wasn't completely able to cooperate. Zealous was sort of gassed, and Iowa City was letting Jeff give it a go at the front... I was stuck to Jeff's wheel, as I decided to mark him.... he was very animated throughout the race, trying to bridge up solo a couple of times. I was mostly comfortable, and hoping that some of the field was popping off the back, though I never looked to check, as Jeff was setting a pretty spirited tempo.
Alas, the field caught Paul and Will with only about 9 miles left to race... Huge props to Paul for nearly pulling this off, and relieving me and Carson from the need to do any work for most of the race...
Ok, now it was up to me and Carson... things were still looking promising. With about 6 miles to go, I tried a soft attack up one of the steepest hills getting a small gap... I made it about half way when I saw Jared Osterloh, Mattias P, and Brian West (basically the 'heads of state' for the other three teams) countering near the crest.... crap, I was at the limit, and began cramping a bit... I made it over the hill and heard Carson screaming in agony... crampage...
When things settled, those three guys had a gap, and I was left to chase... dang. There were still two solo riders with us, but they were not working at this point... the field had whittled down to 7... I chased for a bit, as they were just a bit up the road... As I began to think things through, I relented to save something for the end... I figured those three were rotating through, and I would have to dig too deep to bring them back, if that was even possible. After over 100 miles, I really wasn't too sure what demands my body was able to accommodate... sort of uncharted territory, as I only race/ride over 100 miles during this annual event...
Well, this wasn't an ideal situation for me, as I don't fancy myself much of a sprinter, but you never know, maybe the guys remaining were hurting... I was glad to still be in the field, and that 4th place was still available for the 7 guys in this group... Bikes 2 You still had 3 guys, Mercy had one... the two solo riders (Kevin S.-Colorbiotics and a Proctor Cycling guy from Illinois) had hung on as well.
Luckily, there were two attacks towards the end, which meant maybe it wouldn't come down to a sprint... Nope, it came down to a sprint to the line, which came up way too soon for my wind-up... I ended up 9th... Carson recovered well and rolled across in 11th I believe... and Paul still ended up 13th despite going 'all-in' for well over 90 miles.
Paul should feel great about his effort, so thanks to him, and I thank my Mom for doing hand-ups. I had a blast working with Carson and Paul, and I know the other guys on the American Equity team were wishing us the best. Yeah, it could have gone better... but, trust me, things could have gone a lot worse, so I will just enjoy the accomplishment of making the top 10 and the rewarding feeling of racing along some of Iowa's finest athletes.
Men Pro, 1,2 - Iowa State Road Championship - August 6th, 2011
1. #14 – Matias Perret, ICCC (Gold)
2. #12 – Jared Osterloh, Zealous Racing (Silver)
3. #2 – Brian West, World of Bikes – Bikes To You (Bronze)
4. #3 – Kevin Severs, Colorbiotics
5. #15 – Mariusz Czarnomski, ICCC
6. #4 – Greg Springhouse, Peoria Bicycle Team
7. #18 – Kevin Tempel, World of Bikes – Bikes To You
8. #9 – Austin Turner, World of Bikes – Bikes To You
9. #20 – Chad Bishop, American Equity
10. #17 – Chris Moore, World of Bikes – Bikes To You
11. #5 – Carson Christen, American Equity
12. #13 – Jeff Barnes, ICCC
13. #19 – Paul Deninger, American Equity
14. #8 – David Lippold, Zealous Racing
15. #7 – Steven Robinson, Zealous Racing
DNF. #1 – Kurt Hantelmann, Zealous Racing
DNF. #22 – Finn Kolsrud, Unattached
DNF. #6 – Andrew Buntz, World of Bikes – Bikes To You
DNF. #10 – Ryan French, Zealous Racing
DNF. #11 – William Greenwood, World of Bikes – Bikes To You
DNF. #16 – Adam Price, ICCC
DNF. #21 – Lee Venteicher, World of Bikes – Bikes To You