Monday, July 9, 2012

Coupe des Ameriques 2012: Not-So-Masterful Racing

The arch in town, coffee time.

This past Friday through Sunday, five Tall Tree Cycles dudes born in the 1970s took on the Coupe des Ameriques in Sutton, Quebec: Alex, Jamie, Iain, Matt and Todd. Only Alex had raced Sutton before, let alone any road stage race. The rest of us had been psyching ourselves up for such an opportunity for at least few years. Alex's rave reviews and ring-leading had us packed up and Friday morning. What was in store? Pain, no doubt, but we were all looking forward to racing together as a real team for the first time.

The abode; unbeatable.
Service course in Sutton, outstanding score by Alex.
I won't go into painstaking detail, but I'll provide a sense of what this race was like. First, the competition was pretty fierce. This was abundantly clear during the prologue, a mass start hill-climb on Friday night. Ouch. Iain and Alex were with the lead group, but I got popped off, as did Todd and Jamie. Iain sat in 10th, Alex in 11th. We had a shot at a top 10.

Abomination, or sleeper? Undecided.
The weirdest looking TT bike in the field. There is photographic evidence of my rather upright position. There is no helping that, the stem can't get any lower....

The TT fleet, ranging from cutting edge
The TT fleet

Matt, Alex, Jamie, Iain, Todd.
Matt, Alex, Jamie, Iain, Todd
Between TT and circuit race: Tour de France!
Enjoying the Tour between stages in Saturday.
Saturday began with a 16k time trial on a seemingly flat course. Not so. I looked down and saw 30kph more than once, indicating it had climbs. What is there to say? It hurt. Todd was our best man, to our pleasant surprise. He, Iain, and I were all within 10 seconds. Weird. Iain still occupied 10th on the GC, with an American, Bobby Bailey, in the lead after slaying the competition. Jamie rode Merckx, and actually kinda liked it. 

The fleet.
The road fleet, ready for the circuit race.

The circuit race would be 50k, three laps of a hilly route. WIth Iain in 10th, we were looking to get him into any break that might stick, or at least finish same time with the pack and go for the win if possible. A 90kph descent with train-tracks proved exciting if not a little scary. Ok, honestly, we were afraid guys were going to eat it in front of us for no good reason. There were wobbles aplenty. Why? On the second lap we moved to the front and led the descent, which was better. On the third, after Iain and Alex had attacked multiple times, I carried speed past the field through the runout of the descent and went solo for a couple kilometers, hoping to draw a small group with me. Nope. However, Iain and I were positioned well for the sprint, and I found myself easily picking off riders, and crossing the line beside Iain in 5th, with enough speed to take the win if I had another 10 meters. Live and learn, coulda-shoulda. We were happy with our riding, but knew we'd have our work cut out for us come Sunday's 102k road race.

Todd, master of maximization.
Todd, post circuit race.
Sunday started out ok, with the Trek team attacking to no avail off the gun, angling to get their GC guys onto the podium. After rolling climbs, three got away while everyone looked at the yellow jersey, Bailey, who had one team-mate, to chase. He did, but one man can only do so much. Iain had already told him we'd help him, so we worked with him, his team-mate, and a hard working BikeMan solo rider to bring them back, peloton in tow. It took 20k. We tried moves after that to create a break to to no avail. Things 'got real' on the final big climb, on Joy Road; it was a grinder. I'd opted to run my 11-28 cassette with my 39 ring in the event that things got ugly. Indeed they did, and I was grinding that sucker at 17kph while the whippets pulled away. A small group was off, with a shattered field in their wake. The yellow was in a small chase group I was able to bridge to with Todd, followed by Iain and Alex...and most of the rest of the pack. Despite our numbers, the field was not inclined to chase the 14 up the road with 10k to go. We tried to drive the pace to no avail, and nobody followed my attack with 4 to go. By the time we hit the final, we were all gassed. The yellow lost the jersey, Iain got bumped to 14th on the GC, I settled into 19th, Todd 21st, Alex 37th, Jamie, almost lanterne rouge. We'd done everything we could, no regrets. The event was very well run, and the racing was mostly great (except the parts where people wanted to do a group ride). We're already looking forward to next year. We'd better get better at ripping hill climbs....Next up, the Grand Prix!

Spoken words:

"You should smoke cigarettes. They're like compression socks for your lungs."

"Wow, that was horrible. It can only get better from here."

"I don't have any kudos yet." 

"There are 10 Trek guys...."

"I'm a really big deal on the Internet!"

"Moringa has essential amino acids."

"Roadies going over railroad tracks, at the bottom of a downhill? That means we're moving up." 

"Hey man, is that steel? "Yep." "Steel is real, eh?" "Yep."

"How was the TT?" "Well, it sucked, but TTs always suck, even when they are good, right?"

"Three Trek guys off the front. We're going to bring them back."

"When we catch them, the Trek guys are going to attack you." "I know, that's ok, just hang on." "Ok."

"Pull through or get the f@$k off the front?"

"Go! This is a Strava segment!" "No! I can t go any harder!"

"You guys are awesome. Thank you."

Apres race banquet beers. The Apres Bikini option is apparently a winter only thing.



Alex M said...

Another solid recap. KUDOS!

Lanista said...

nice report. Great race guys. See you next year.

Lanista said...
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