Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 Almonte Paris Roubaix Redux

Just a quick post rounding up this past Sunday's Roubaix out of Almonte.

First, if your searching for photos, check out Perry McKenna's gallery. Outstanding shots. Results are at www.cyclocross.org

So, from a Tall Tree Cycles team perspective, the Roubaix was a success. Did we win? Nope, but we came close. "Close....what's that worth?" Plenty, if you've got perspective.

Neil Schiemann (Tall Tree Cycles/Steelwool) followed Osmond Bakker (Octto-Cervelo) through the new Concession 5A sector of forest that had everyone excited. It was no secret that it would be wet, so we prepared for that, and aimed to be in and out up front.  Perry's photos tell the story. We got to the front and went hard. the photographic record shows I almost went down as I followed Iain Radford (TTC/SW), but my dab into the water kept me upright...fortunately. My Shimano winter shoes/boots worked so well I didn't realize I'd even put my foot into the water.

Neil went hard out of the nearly 2km-long sector, with Osmond eager to go with him. My sensations were horrible after a week of sickness and no riding, so chasing wasn't even physically possible for me. Iain held back too, allowing Neil and Osmond to establish a gap while the pack came together and assembled a chase. Already suffering - and this is about 13km into the race - I didn't last long with the chase group, so I was left to guess as to what was transpiring up the road as I slipped back into mellower pace territory, Jim McGuire (TTC/SW) at my side. We ultimately were caught up by the second chase group, containing Dave Stachon, Mike Abraham and Andy Brown (TTC/SW). Rodd Heino (TTC/SW) was already up the road in the first chase group. So Neil off the front, and two guys in the chase group. Good.

After about an hour and a half I felt human, and ultimately was able to pull away from the pack through the final forest sector to nab 15th spot. But that's not the main plot line. Up the road, Neil and Osmond were caught around the 50k mark. At this point, they'd ridden the first two of four forest sectors, and fought off a strong chase group of more than 15. Aaron Fillion (Ride with Rendall) and Osmond shattered the group up and over the switchback climb that launches the third sector, with Doug van den Ham (Nine2FivePro) in pursuit. Iain and Neil fought to stay on, and were able to hang with these guys until the final sector at about 78km into the course. Neil's earlier efforts had taken too much from him to hang on, while Osmond flatted and Aaron rode away from both Doug and Iain, with John Fee (Cyclery) trailing. Aaron captured the win, followed by Doug, Iain, Neil, and John.

Any amateur rider who contends with the likes of Osmond Bakker and Aaron Fillion must be doing a lot right. With the exception of Neil, every rider in the top 6 (Osmond was 6th) is a father. Osmond and Aaron are phenoms, somehow managing to race at the elite level competitively in both Canada and the United States. Whenever we hold our own with these guys we're proud of our efforts. Doug, a new father, amazed everyone (who knew he was a new father) with his ride. Chapeau. Iain had never even ridden the route before. Chapeau. John Fee always seems to be in the right place, and he clearly had a great day. Chapeau. Our plan worked as planned, and we do not feel bad about being beaten by stronger riders. Neil gets two chapeaus for his utter tenacity. He was prepared to suffer, and he sure did. We're already looking forward to the 2013 edition, hopefully even gnarlier than this one!

Many thanks to the fine OBC folks for putting on another great event, along with sponsor Euro-Sports, and all the volunteers who kept us from becoming hood ornaments out there.

Once again, some great video from Brian Schlachta:

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