“No pierden la fuga”
These were the instructions of Seba, our director, before each stage of the Joe Martin Stage Race. Translated, it means, “Don’t miss the break.” According to Seba and many of my teammates, at many of the races last year, and during the races at Redlands and Gila this year, the team consistently failed to put riders in the day’s major breakaways. This forced the team to chase, even when they weren’t in the race lead, wasting valuable resources on the front that could be put to better use winning the stage. Despite the fact that we lined up at Joe Martin with only six riders, as opposed to the usual eight, we were determined not to let that happen to us at this race.
What followed was probably the hardest four days of racing in my life. With six riders tasked with covering the responsibilities of eight, we had our work cut out for us from the start. While being represented in the break may save the team from the exhausting work of chasing at the front of the peloton, getting in the break requires covering relentless attacks at the front until an acceptable move is allowed to escape. For those who do not make the break, they are responsible for fetching bottles and food from the team car, and either shepherding the team’s GC rider to the finish, or, in our case, assembling the lead-out for one of the team’s sprinters. By the end of the day, every rider is exhausted, whether or not they made it in the day’s breakaway. These were the fruits of our labors last weekend:
Stage 3 (Road Race): Two major breaks, first break of twelve stays away for one twenty-three mile lap with Ale in it. Second break of eight stays away for two laps with me in it, Ani finishes eighth.
Stage: 4 (Criterium): Two major breaks, first break of about six has Guido in it, second break, the winning break of 8, has Ale in it, Ale finished eighth.
One stage win and several top-tens is a respectable result for the skeleton crew we brought to Joe Martin. Even more importantly, we executed successfully on our most important directive, “Don’t miss the break!” This bodes well for future events where a full-squad will be present. When riders are on form, and everyone is focused on fulfilling their responsibilities to the team, good things happen. According to our director, this all starts with not missing the break.
As I said in my last update, the next race on the calendar for me is the Tour de Grove in St. Louis. I’ve been here in St. Louis since Monday, and I can already tell that this city really appreciates a good bike race. The Tour of Missouri was a popular event here for three years until political infighting halted its rapid growth. Since its demise, the Tour de Grove has stepped up to be Missouri’s premier cycling event, gaining a coveted spot on the NRC calendar. While many teams, including Jamis-Sutter Home, will be fielding squads at the Tour of California next week, there will be no shortage of talented criterium riders here in St. Louis this weekend. The racing starts with a late-night criterium at 9:30PM on Friday. It continues with two more criteriums on Saturday and Sunday, both of which will be held at a slightly more reasonable hour.
After returning from St. Louis on Monday, I will head to Wilmington, DE for an omnium there, followed by races in Somerville and Basking Ridge, NJ. My spring cycling campaign culminates with the biggest one-day race in the United States, the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship; a 250 kilometer contest on some of the city’s most famous roads.
Stay tuned for updates from this weekend’s racing, as well as musings about the strange and occasionally eventful life of a professional cyclist.
Thanks for reading!