The Mississippi Gran Prix is awesome. Next year, I am for sure bringing the family down to watch the race, participate in the Friday activities, and watch the racing which is fast, aggressive, and exciting! Here is an edited version of the race report I sent out to my team.
Friday night crit – fast, fast, fast! There were one or two laps that felt like the night pro race in Athens Twilight. Turn 2 was downhill off-chamber onto a small street so the whiplash effect was pretty bad in the back of the group. The key was working to stay towards the front and then finding a good place to pass people if you found yourself sliding back. For me, the place to pass people was on the front straightaway going into Turn 1 on the outside so I was able to stay near the front for most of the race. I flatted right when the winning break got away. The sprint was super fast, and I thought I had good positioning but I could only manage 13th in the field sprint for 16th in the race.
Saturday road race – lots of attacks on the hilly course — 3 twenty-five+ mile laps for a very fast 77 miles. On the first lap, there were a bunch of attacks and we spent a lot of time strung out. My teammate Wes worked his way into the day’s major breakaway towards the end of the first lap. They stayed away for a long time (maybe 20 miles?) and were caught about 3/4 of the way through the second lap. A Hotel San Jose rider and a VW Metro rider (the two strongest teams in the race) attacked on the climb with 4k to go to the end of the second lap. I attacked hard to try to bridge and made it about 1/3 of the way to them when I decided that Myogenesis, Herring Gas, S3 Racing, Tristar/Warp9, and Memphis Motorwerks had all missed the move and would eventually chase it down — so why expend the energy to finish the bridge.
Well, 20 miles later I was regretting my decision as the pack had still not caught the breakaway with only 5 miles left to go in the race even though we had reduced the gap to maybe 20 seconds. That’s when my teammate Mike Lackey put in an awesome move with two Myogenesis riders in a bridge attempt. The field sat up letting Mike’s move get a 5-10 second gap, but then the pace picked up again. I was sitting fourth or fifth wheel at the bottom of the climb with 4k to go when I saw two Hotel San Jose riders drill it. I hopped right on and went as hard as I could to hold their wheel up the climb. Only Mike Olheiser (Warp9 Bikes), a VW Metro rider, and an S3 rider were able to keep the pace and by the top of the climb we had caught and passed Mike’s move and had a 10-15 second gap on the field that had eased up with most of the major teams represented in our breakaway. Mike Olheiser drove the move after the Hotel San Jose riders pulled off, and I held on to his wheel to make sure I didn’t get dropped.
On the final hill to the finish, the VW metro rider attacked with 500 meters to go and I rode his wheel to a 5th place finish as we caught the breakaway right on the finish line. The time gap to the main field was 19 seconds. Sammy rocked a killer sprint to take the field sprint for 10th place. Darryl and Stuart got tangled up when another rider swerved into them as they wound things up for the start of the sprint. They both went down, but Darryl took the brunt of the fall with nasty looking gashes all over his arm and back. Since the crash happened with less than 3k to go, they were both awarded the same time as the field.
For the road race, I was VERY pleased with how well everyone on the team did in this race — at one point I think I was sitting maybe 20th wheel and ALL of our team was in front of me and I never once felt like I was alone at the front of the race trying to cover everything. Instead, I got to cover a few moves and let everyone take their turn covering moves. It was perfect teamwork!
Saturday time trial – harder than last year. I think it was because there was a slight headwind, and the road race was much harder this year. I went as hard as I could but still sucked. My teammates Wes and Darryl rode good rides finishing 8:34 and 8:35 respectively moving them into the top 20 on GC.
Sunday circuit race – way faster than last year. I think a number of teams wanted to blow this race apart today, but it also seemed like they didn’t want to commit to a breakaway. It was a weird strategy that led to a very fast race with less than half of the starters finishing the race. A cold downpour while we were all lined up waiting on the start line was not a very promising sign for the race — but the sun came out on the first lap and the streets were dry by the fourth or fifth lap. Those first laps were sketchy though, and I was very glad to have gotten a good start and stayed in the top 10 riders for pretty much the whole race. The race really broke up with the hot spot time bonus prime at the halfway point of the race. I was sitting maybe 10th wheel going up the hill for the sprint and carried a lot of momentum through the line so when I saw a Myogenesis rider attack right after the sprint, I went right with him. We were joined by a Hotel San Jose and VW Metro rider and I thought that it was the perfect break as the field sat up and we instantly had a 5 second gap. Well, unfortunately, only the Myogenesis rider and I would work so the move only lasted a lap.
When we got caught, there was a bunch of attacks and the pace stayed really high. I was still feeling really good so I covered the next two or three break attempts. Then I wasn’t feeling so good and yet another break attempt went up the road and my teammate Darryl covered it perfectly. I got a nice rest for a few laps but still fought to stay as close to the front as possible. With two laps to go, I got run completely off the road on Turn 4 about three feet into the grassy field next to the road but I was carrying enough momentum to ride back onto the gravel and then onto the road at the parking lot side entrance. I lost about 10-15 positions BUT fortunately the pack sat up as an attack had just gotten caught. I had already been hitting it as hard as possible to get back up to speed so I kept right on going and attacked to move into 5th wheel at the back of the Hotel San Jose leadout train that had just formed and had just started to put it into turbo mode. The last lap was so fast that nobody attacked until the tailwind section on the back side of the course going into the last 90 degree corner when a VW Metro rider took a solo flyer up the right side. This caused a bit of panic in the San Jose leadout train and they ramped up the speed even higher which meant that nobody was going to surge around on that downhill before the hill to the finish. I started my sprint right at the bottom of the downhill and passed two or three guys before the start of the climb – then I was carrying enough momentum to pass a couple more guys across the top putting me into sixth place for the race.
The rest of the Tria Market / DonohooAuto crew had an exciting day — Stuart hung on to the very end when he got caught up behind one of the crashes and finished just off the back of the field sprint. Mike got ran off the road once and flatted twice before calling it a day (pulled by the officials) near the end of the race. Wes, Darryl, Brandon, and Sammy fought to stay in as long as possible but each eventually succumbed to the whiplash effect, and aggressive riding of a very aggressive field. Good learning experience, good training, good stepping stone for continuing to build a very strong team!!!
Here is all my heartrate data from the four races, as well as a topocreator.com map of the road race and time trial courses:
- Covering a break
- Flat tire near the start/finish line
- Moving into position for the final sprint
- Covering a break on the 4k to go hill at the end of the first lap
- Solo bridge attempt on the 4k to go hill at the end of the second lap
- Making it into the final breakaway which launched on the 4k to go hill
- Going out too hard?
- The gradual dip in the heartrate through the middle of the course means that my legs were giving out before my aerobic system
- Covering a break
- Making it into the four-man breakaway right after the halfway sprint
- Solo attack (I was hoping somebody else would join me)
- Getting run off the road