Roundup: Valley of the Sun

Team Rio Grande is cruising up Highway 17, Phoenix in the dust.  Thus customary stop at In-and-Out Burger filled our bellies and prepared us for the trip home after three days of racing in the Arizona desert.

Friday was the ITT, a 14 mile out-and-back featuring…umm…nothing.  It is about as unremarkable a course as I’ve ever seen.  But certainly did the job, providing a very pure picture of each rider’s time-trialing ability.  A long lonesome road, jutting out into the desert and quickly turning to dirt served as race parking.

Rio’s Scott Tietzel shredded the course in a hair over half an hour, an impressive performance good enough for fourth place.  Adam and Drew had a solid showing, with 8th and _____ place finishes, respectively, in the Cat 2 race.

The road race was held on a seventeen-mile circuit that featured three right-hand turns and one gradual uphill whose summit served as the finish.  Five laps plus the extra distance between the start and the finish totaled about 90 miles for the day.

As we approached the venue on Saturday morning, the trees (what few there were, if they could be called trees) were waving in the wind.  Much of the morning’s chatting centered around the wind, and how it would affect our day.  The general agreement was that I might be quite interesting.  The veterans agreed that the side of the lap with the start and feed zone would be largely a headwind, the long drag on the highway would likely have crosswind that could gutter the field, and the climb would have a tailwind that would leave racers unable to hide in the draft.

Indeed, the winds turned the normally innocuous course into a difficult and selective circuit.  The first time up the climb the aggression started and a move quickly formed over the top of the climb.  The team managed to put Trevor and Ian in the initial move.  As the pace intensified Trevor came back to the group as the break rolled away.  Lap two provided the first KOM sprint which Ian handily won but the effort was costly as he could not rejoin the group and was reabsorbed by the field.  With tired legs from a great weeklong training camp in Tucson and the difficult conditions, some of the Rio boys found themselves under pressure.

I was the first to go, stretched by the crosswinds and snapped by a crash in front on me.  Jon, Scott and Trevor spent time at the front helping with pace as Ride Clean was absent from the field due to a puncture from GC rider Mike Mathis and Jubi Solar team falling apart from the effort to keep the break in range.  In the final lap Zaijceck  Amiran and a few others lifted the pace up the climb, stretching the field an effort too much for Scott.  Ian and Trevor were dissatisfied with their finish in the main group, with a break of ten up the road.

Adam and Drew, the Cat 2 (and soon to be Cat 1) riders on the team, had an epic day, both falling victim to an early crash, but valiantly chasing back into the group, when many lesser riders (or lesser men) would have given up.  Adam fought the rest of the day with a swollen and painful knee.  Drew’s misfortune wasn’t over for the day, suffering a flat and having to chase on a second time.  Drew and Adam finished 7th and 16th, respectively, displeased that they had missed the break.  But lucky to be alive after such bad luck!

We all deserved some burgers and milkshakes after that!

The crit featured an windy, non-technical and wide course with variable pavement.  Team Rio was active, but no moves were decisive.  After a day of chasing primes and following attacks, we all finished safe and sound, putting an end to a fun although occasionally frustrating weekend tuning-up for the season.

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~ by awerbuch on February 21, 2011.

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