March 19, 2006
We awoke for a race morning finally with a forecast to be in the upper 40’s. We were all happy because that is actually warm for us here in Belgium. After an hour and a half drive, we were discouraged by the car temperature gauge reading 32 degrees. Damn Clouds.
Our team was very strong today, consisting of Mike Wolf, Matt Crane, John Devine, Zach Taylor, Ryan Keels and myself. The goal of the day was to be very attentive from the gun and not let anything get away without at least one of us in it. Pretty simple. Today’s race was 150k with a few climbs ranging from 1-2k.
The race started hard from the gun, as expected. While some of our guys were struggling to reach the front in the strung out crosswinds, Crane and I were jumping with moves and being very active. A crash maybe 5k in put half our team in difficulty. John Devine went down hard in the crash, requiring a bike change. Zach Taylor and Ryan Keels were also caught behind. They were in the chase group behind the attacking peloton up front. After a few unsuccessful moves with Wolf and me in toe, Crane found the right combination and made the break of 21. We would have like to have had more, but were happy with Crane there. Our mission for the rest of the day was to follow wheels to go across to the break.
Soon after the first climb of the day, Devine finally bridged on to the front peloton, now consisting of Wolf, Devine and me. We immediately hit the second climb, and this was the longest and steepest of the day. All three of us were at the front to make sure nothing got away without us. I followed a move a few k’s later consisting of 3 other riders, one of which was Steve Cozza, my teammate from the national team last year. He is now riding for the Continental Team Colba. He had one teammate with us and there was one other guy. They were doing the majority of the work, so I was getting a free ride. Noel came through the radio a few moments later and said Devine was in a chase group on their way up to us. We needed more guys if we wanted a chance to go to the front group, so this was a good situation. When Devine’s group caught us, we talked for a minute and decided we didn’t need to work too much. The group had a well organized chase for the next 30k or so. The break had one minute and thirty seconds with around 50k to go. Our group kept rolling through, but we were not chasing at the rate to bring the break back. They kept getting more time, and by the time we hit the 3 X 7.5k circuits, they had 3 minutes. With less than 25k to go, it was surely gone.
On the last lap, Devine went with a group of maybe 8 or 9 riders. They got a gap quickly and behind we just watched them go. Devine finished maybe 5th or so in the group for around 26th place. I think I was second in my group for around 30th.
Up ahead, Crane was put in difficulty in the last few laps of the circuits. He was forced to try to bridge to a front group of 12 riders solo, which didn’t pan out. Once he was caught by the remaining 11 riders, he was blown. He held on, but was finished 20th. It was a great ride for Crane and without a couple of tactical errors in the last 20k, he definitely could have gotten a top 10.
Our team is looking strong for GP Waregem 1.2 U23 on Wednesday. We will be taking a day or two for rest and then back to work again. I think we showed we have the strength today and will be putting it on display again on Wednesday. Until then…