Thursday, July 17

Working Man's Stage Race (2½/3)

Stage Two: Tommy Young Memorial Circuit Race

Stage two of the Working Man's Stage race consisted of three loops around an 8.8 mile course, for a total of about 26.4 miles. Like the time trial course, there was a large uphill, followed by a long downhill, and a turn in the final straight-away to the finish line.

Steve and I had made a note of the strongest non-NorEast riders, those that were the most of a threat to taking the maglia rosa, the pink leader's jersey. As the race developed, the NorEast riders shut down any moves by these riders. At one point, I was at the front, with Gary Bavolar (the guy in third place in the General Classification) right in front of me. He was setting a really hard pace, trying to soften up the field. When he pulled off and waved his elbow at me to come around and pull, I said "sorry man, I can't help" and stayed behind him. In short, NorEast effectively shut down any potential for a breakaway by any of the other contenders.

The NorEast Elite Team guys mostly aren't doing the Working Man's Stage Race--it doesn't fall on their race schedule, coming on the heels of the Fitchburg race, or something. I don't know. They came out though, and staked themselves out at the top of the hill, to watch and cheer us on. Hearing people cheering and yelling your name is a great feeling. Thanks for coming out, guys. That was awesome.

I'm not too keen on climbing, but I suffered and made sure I was with the front riders as we crested the hill for the final time, so I'd be in a good position for the downhill, the turn, and the final sprint. I caught up with Steve and Gary and whoever else was in the very front group on the downhill. The rest of the pack caught up with us at the bottom of the hill. As we came along the flat before the turn, I started to get boxed in. As we came screaming around the final turn, I hear Keith Linberg behind me "whoa Giles look out!" He was in my blind spot, and I'd cut him off around the turn. I heard the sprunk-sprunk-spunk of something going in to spokes, and I thought Keith had been trashed. I slowed down just a touch, but when I looked back he was very fortunately still there, rubber-side-down.

Looking ahead again, the sprint was underway. I cranked it as hard as I could, and totally exploded towards the line. I almost caught up with everyone, but it was too late. It was an amazing sprint, but it was just about 25 meters behind where it needed to be, haha. Afterwards, one of the Belfast Bicycle Club riders said "Hey, great sprint," which was cool.

I didn't get the results yet (I'll update this post when I do, so check back later today) but I think I got sixth or so. I believe Steve got fifth or so in the sprint. Dan Donovan, the rider previously in second place, won the sprint, and will be wearing the Working Man's Stage Race maglia rosa today, Thursday.

I didn't really get the result I wanted, but that's how the cycling works--it's as often about luck as it is strength or smarts. NorEast was strong and smart, but I was unfortunately boxed in near the end. Positioning laterally is as important (or occasionally more important) than postioning vertically! It was fun as hell though, and all the NorEast guys kicked ass. Today is the points race--fifty laps around a tight, quarter-mile track, with sprints every fifth lap. Sounds like my kind of race. We'll see if I have anything left in my legs for it though.

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