Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Team Updates: CT Stage Race, Balloon Fest and Maine

It's been a busy couple weeks for Team Embrocation.

First up, a little review of the Tour of Connecticut Stage Race two weekends ago. This was a new race on the calendar for 2009. Held in the rural area of northwest CT near Windstead the CT Stage race was a 2 day, 3 stage race with a ITT on Saturday morning, a Circuit race on Saturday afternoon and a long road race on Sunday. Although the race was off the beaten path, once in the host village of Colebrook there was little reason to leave as all the stages started and finished in basically the same spot. Very convenient. We also procured some comfortable lodging at a YMCA summer camp just a few miles from the race venue - also convenient.

While the race wasn't very well attended, the level of competition was high with the entire MetLife, IF, Bikereg and Kelly Benefits teams, as well strong elements of CCB, CCNS and TargetTraining.

The ITT was fairly standard - about 10 miles, out and back, rolling course. Bradshaw had a great TT and finished up 8th while Jay had an impressive 17th place on his road bike.

The circuit race later that evening was a blast. A hilly 3 corner, 3 mile circuit was fast, technical and entertaining. My only complaint was that at 24 miles it wasn't quite long enough. By the end I felt like I had just begun figuring out how to manage the course. Leflamme and I had decent finishes at the front of the main group behind a wave of Kelly Benefits riders chasing down Will Dugan of CCB who had a most impressive solo victory off the front of a charging field.

If the circuit race left us wanting for distance, the road race didn't. 90 miles of rolling miles up across the Massachusetts boarder and back down along the Farmington River with a tough finish in Colebrook. While there were not real major climbs to break up the group, there were many rolling, technical sections. Our predictions prior to the race proved to be inaccurate. We figured a break would not go early due to the length and style of the course. We were wrong - the eventual winning breakaway went off the front around mile 8. Caught off-guard and unprepared we were unable to put a rider into that particular break. We were in good company as MetLife and Bikereg also failed to place a rider off the front of the field. Those two teams organized a vigorous chase, to which we contributed our efforts as judiciously as possible. This chase was of no avail, however. With this knowledge settling in to the peloton, attacks began and small groups began to slip off the front of the race. We were aggressive in our attacks and eventually got Jay and Leflamme into one of the chase groups, but not in enough time for them to sweep up other riders off the front. They managed to finish in the mid teens on the day with Brashaw and I close behind.

The Connecticut Stage race was well-run and the roads were very beautiful. I hope it stays on the calendar for next year and draws a slightly larger crowd.

This past weekend, we divided our efforts between a few different races.

Bradshaw and I traveled to Cambridge, NY to participate in the 6th annual Balloon Festival race put on by Dieter Drake who is the promoter of the Tour of the Battenkill. The start/finish is basically the same as the Battenkill but the course is a circuit and primarily on roads. In fact this year, due to road construction, Dieter was forced to shorten the course and eliminate the dirt section altogether. We did 6 14 mile laps, each one with a decidedly difficult climb in the middle.
Again, we had a small but strong field composed of approximately 80 Kenda Spooky riders a good core from CCB and Bikereg and CRCA/Jonathan Adler. Immediately two Kenda riders went off the front and stayed there for two laps. I was able to get in a larger break with many strong riders on lap 3. We swept up the two Kenda racers off the front and formed a lead group of 9 that stayed away for about 2 laps. Despite our best the group caught us largely because of the efforts of Will Dugan and his CCB teammates who did not have any representation in the break. The penultimate time over the climb Dugan and a small cadre of riders slipped off the front. Over the next lap several riders jumped off the front of the group in chase including Bradshaw, who would ride in no-man's land between the lead and chase to take 5th. Behind, I ended up in the chase group with Justin Lindine of Bikereg, Colin Jaskievicz of CCB and four Kenda riders, who were unshakable and ultimately vanquished me in the finish.

Meanwhile at the Lake Auburn road race in Maine, Chris Leflamme took third, winning the sprint out of his breakaway group and finishing behind Ted and Robbie King. He was the best of the mortal men on the day. I don't have details about this race so I will let Chris describe it in a future post.

Also, Josh Gunn was out in Seattle racing and taking second in a road race there on Sunday. He'll fill us in on that soon as well.

Thanks for reading. Training camp next weekend and then back on the road to Housatonic Hills Road Race in CT.

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