Monday, June 17, 2013

2013 O'Fallon Grand Prix

The O'Fallon Grand Prix is a three day race held in O'Fallon IL. Over the last few years it has grown to be a really nice race on the calendar and has Saturday's race has been the IL state road race for quite some time now.

Last year OFGP decided to add a time trial to their weekend. It is a 13.1 mile TT with plenty of turns, rolling hills, and for a Midwest TT what can be considered a climb. They call it a prolog but it is over 20km so I think it is really a TT. This year they made the race weekend an Omnium which I was a big fan of. It is always more fun to add more levels of strategy to races. For our Cat 3 team we were going into the weekend's state road race with a two point plan to try and finally come home with a rr title. I was also going to try and work out a way to do well in the Omnium. A bit hard to do while trying to help teammates win a 70 mile road race.

The TT went really well. I have never put out more power on my TT bike and for more than half the race I we feeling really good. I need to spend a bit more time on the bike and work those muscles a bit more, but it is coming around. Too bad for me however that there are a lot of good TT guys in my category, and my teammate Keith is one of them. Keith slotted in at 3rd place I took 5th.

The IL state rr is on a really nice course that the promoters change up from year to year to keep things new. We change directions and even use different roads it seams from time to time. There is really no significant climbing and there was no hard wind, the only thing making the race hard was the heat, the road melting, and in the end, this distance. For the most part the race was slow, like really slow. There were a few larger teams in the race but for the most part their plans involved putting someone in a break and then sitting on the front. There was really no counter attacking or anything to stretch the "rubber band". Our plan #1 was to put Keith in a break away but we wanted to wait till later in the race. So all the breaks that went away too early we made it into and sat on, or we pulled back. This seemed to make a lot of other teams mad, not sure why but o well. So when it was finally time to try and make the break happen we went hard. We sent attack after attack, countering off each other. But with only 4 guys to make things happen it was very difficult. Luckily Keith had enough for one more go and it made a very large break with what looked like 2 from every team but our. This might have been a bad decision on my part but after seeing that I thought I should try to get up there to even the score with Keith. I jumped hard and had a good gap but as I was coming up on the group it looked like no one was doing anything and Keith was a few feet off the back. So after about 20+ min of trying to make the break go we switched to plan #2 which was a bunch sprint for Mike. I think this made even more people mad as now nothing was going away. The problem for me was I had to now do a lot of work. Keith was really worn out from trying the breaks, Roy was now out with cramps, and we had to keep Mike fresh for the finish. Mike ended up having to help out and he even tried to get in one or two small breaks that could have worked. He never over committed and had plenty for the finish. As we came closer to the end we were set up at the front with some strong guys right in front of us. I thought we were on the fast track to the finish line. About 1km from the finish there was a small climb and then about 700 meters to the finish. I was able to hold a very good position in spite on my thighs starting to cramp with every push on the pedals. We came over the top and there wasn't a hole lot of snap left. I was sitting second wheel with Mike right on my wheel. When it was time to jump though I had nothing in the tank, I could only just keep the power on in my seat. Mike had to jump around and opened it up. He was looking really good but looked like he went just a bit early and took 5th place. I was pretty bummed with how I finished, I was hoping to have more to give Mike.

The last day was the crit. It is held on a course with 10 turns and bad pavement. The weather was sucky with rain forecast for most the day. There were only 15 or so riders that lined up for the 3s race with QMC having the most (4) in the race. The guys were going to help me sprint for the finish. I told Keith to try and make an early break to help us keep the pressure off us. Turned out that was the move of the day as he went up the road with a Prairie Path Cycling rider. I wasn't worried about Keith as I thought he would be the stronger rider and would take the win. He got a bit unlucky with his break partner flatting and getting some time out of the race. This tired Keith out and he ended up doing more time on the front than he might have otherwise.

In the peleton, or what was left of it, Mike, Roy, and I were sitting pretty. The other four  or five riders with us were spending a lot of time trying to pull Kieth back which was great for us. With the race coming to a close Roy was right on the front to give me a great lead-out. We got a little help from a Rhythm Racing rider pulling on the front, but when I hit the front stretch I was able to get a really good jump and came around for 1st in the field sprint.

After the 3s race I jumped in with our cat 2 team for the pro 1/2/3 race. The plan was to get Grant into the break of the day as he was the highest placed rider in the GC for the team. We were going to cover moves and if Grant wasn't there, wait for him to get there. I was pretty far back at the start of the race and took me a couple laps to move up to the front. I got there just in time though as my teammates were recovering from previous moves and others were going off. I made it into a couple moves that were brought back before the final move went and a chase went after it. I was just barely able to get a hold of the chase. Hayden Warner, Casey Saunders, and I tried to catch the lead group of 4 but only got as close as 10 seconds before they started to put in more time on us and the pack. Our chase group started to put in a lot of time on the pack to so I started to work more with the group. After about 30 min though we had a bit of a mix up in the rotation and Casey dropped me. I sat up a bit for about a lap and then got to work again trying to stay out front. I didn't know if I could stay out there the rest of the race but I wanted to try. I was out for about another 15 min and once I was caught I was out the back, my race was pretty much over.

The team did a lot of good work for Grant though and he was able to sprint for 3rd in the field taking 7th in the crit and moving up to 2nd in the GC. A great result for him!

It was a really fun weekend. I am leaving for ToAD on Thursday for 11 days of racing and I am feeling pretty good about it.

Cat 123 race in the chase group.
I am first guy in the picture up the road chase down Nick Ramirez who let me catch him really. Grant was trying to go with my but ran off the road.... 
Cool pic of my sprint in the cat 3 race.

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