Friday, August 21, 2009

Regio Tour

The team is here in Freiburg Germany competing in the 25th annual Regio Tour, however this is the first year it’s a junior race. Two years ago this race was a Pro Tour race, but then changed to a u23 race after the race sponsors were fed up with doping problems.
Stage one was hot, 105 out on the road and after being in Belgium for a few weeks it felt even hotter. The stage began at 2:30, and as always, it started fast. For me it was the first ride of the week after some knee pains kept me off the bike after our race last Sunday in Belgium. I was aggressive early and after 15km escaped off the front with four other riders. Our time gap quickly increased to 1:35 over the pack and they rolled along in the blistering heat. After 20 more kilometers we hit the base of the days only climb, I was feeling alright and thought I might have a chance at going for the KOM. Once the acceleration began I realized that three days off the bike had not been the best thing for my quick accelerations but I did what I could to stay with the leaders. With 500 meter to go a rider began his sprint not knowing it was only a sign for 500 meters. The move was brought back and just then I looked over my back to see that a rider had come from the group and coming fast. The sprint went again but I didn’t have it and missed out on the points. Over the top of the climb another group came up to us and shortly after the pack. From there the race just cruised for a while, and then the winning move went. Jacob was the first to go, I gave it a go but it was brought back then Nathan got away and bridged across. Five kilometers later Lawson marked a move with ten more guys and chased hard but never caught the lead group. From there Gavin, Ryan and I rode in the pack and made sure if anything else go away that we were in it. Nothing did and we slowly, rolled to the finish. Meanwhile Rathe was the strongest man and won the race and took the yellow and green jersey. Nathan was 5th and Lawson 13th. We were also winning team GC, so it was an awesome day for everyone.

Stage two was time to defend the yellow. We have an amazing team here; everyone is super strong and willing to lay everything out on the line for everyone else, which in this situation makes riding at the front fun knowing that your work is for the betterment of the team. That being said we did just that, rode on the front most the day not letting anything dangerous get to far up the road and discouraging any of the other strong riders/teams from attacking. For how un-difficult the course was the race was one of the hardest I’ve done this year. We had a strong head wind the majority of the time and had to ride hard at times to bring breaks back. And with 15km remaining Gavin crashed and Jacob trashed his front wheel and was forced to stop and giving a wheel from Lawson, before we all helped him rejoin the pack. It was a hard day, but awesome to see how well we rode as a team and we are still winning team GC and Jacob still has yellow.

We you race as a team you win as a team

P.S. photos are from day before the race, we took a mid ride stop……… it was hot

Sunday, August 16, 2009


After four days at our 27 story hotel in Moscow Russia the individual time trial had come. The US had two competitors, Nathan Brown and Lawson Craddock, both men have podium at the international level this year, so we had high expectations for them. Lawson was the first to start the 13.5 km course in which they would complete two laps. Lawson posted the second fastest time check at the end of the first lap. After we did the calculations we knew it was going to be close, Lawson could go fast but just how fast we didn’t know. As he crossed the finish line we held our breath and stared at the big screen which displayed the finishing times. Lawson made up some time but came up just 2.22 seconds short of holding the number one spot in the finish house. Nathan started next and from the beginning was not on a good day, but time check one he lost 45 seconds to Lawson. Nathan finished 34th which is still not bad considering it was the world championships. Lawson rode and amazing race like he always does on the time trial bike and his second place time held up and he took silver. Lawson being seventeen has the sweet taste of success from this year but the drive to make up that 2.22 seconds for next year and take home the rainbow jersey.
The race was the next race on the schedule and a hard demanding course it was. Used as the Olympic road course in 1980 and again for the road world championships in 1989 when Lance Armstrong was a junior. Moscow is a relatively flat city so when I saw the course profile on line for the first time I thought that it must be wrong. However, during the excavation for the rowing events for the 80’ Olympics the dirt was piled up in one area creating a hill worthy of making into a road race course. The 13.5 km circuit consisted of five hard climbs each between 14-20%, they were short climbs but with a total of ten laps that’s 50 climbs. We had a plan for the race and were ready to race. All the bikes were clean and legs were oiled, and the race was about to begin. From the gun the race was on, as expected, and in classic USA form we started near the back. We all spent the first half lap moving up in the 165 rider field, consisting of 40 different countries.
The first few laps passed and I tried my best to do my job with was to patrol the front and make sure that no group with five or more riders got too far off the front. Then on lap six a large group of 8-13 riders escaped but Nathan was on top of it and represented us in the lead group. For the next two and half laps the pressure was off us at Nathans groups gap got up to 50 seconds. Then with a little over a lap to go Nathans group was caught and the race was all back together. Now the pressure was on Jacobs back to represent us in the final lap of the race. After Nathan came back I went straight to the front to make sure nothing else got away. Once I got there three riders had already got a gap, so I went to the front and drove the pack with all the energy I had left. I continued hammering up the first climb, but by half way I began to fade, and once I started to go back I went back and fast. By the top of the climb I had fallen of the back, but I had given what I had in hope that Jacob could finish it off. The three man group was soon caught but another larger group of 11 riders go away and we had no one. Jacob made a valiant effort to bridge across but was just out manned; it was too much to ask from one rider. The group of 11 stayed away and Jacob sprinted from the chasing pack and finished 17th. It was by far the most pain I and everyone else had ever endured while racing a bike. Afterwards we were all crushed.
We had hoped and had the power to do better, but bike racing is such, and we didn’t have the best of days. We are back in Belgium now, having never been happier to be here. Russia was a great experience, but I can live without the traffic, food and apartment buildings.


Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've spent the past three days in Moscow, Russia for the UCI Junior World Championships. Moscow is a crazy place, it appears that everything is an appartment building which rise up in every direction. Tomorrow is the time trial for Nathan and Lawson.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Liege La Glieze

The Day after I arrived in Belgium we had our first race, Liege la Glieze, a UCI 2.1 in the Belgian Ardennes. The goal of the race was to get in some more European racing before worlds and test out how our legs felt. Our team consisted of five riders, all of which are good friends and great bike racers.
Stage one was a 97km road race with two KOM’s (King of the Mountain Sprints), Nathan got off the front in a small group after 20km and managed to win the first KOM. By the time the second KOM rolled around Nathan was back in the pack and the group was all together. Coming into the final 10km of the race as one big peloton we tried to organize at eh front in order to set up a lead-out train for Gavin and Jacob. With 4km remaining Lawson hit the front and kept the pace high, after him I took over and brought the race within 2km’s of the finish. When I pulled off I realized that I was the last US rider at the front, so I eased up and then things got dicey. I dropped back into 10th wheel with Jacob and Gavin both right around me, but then things went south. Two French riders clipped bars and took each other out right in front of all of us. I was able to squeeze through but Gavin and Jacob were forced off the road and into a gravel driveway but made it back onto the road going into 700 meters to go. By then things at eh front had started to go fast and we did what we could to stay in the front. Gavin finished 11th, myself 21st and Jacob not too far behind me, Nathan and Lawson were both stuck behind the crash and just rolled in but got the same time do to the 3km rule.
Stage two A was a team time trial an event that we were sure we could and should win. For a TTT the course was rather hilly and the frequent changes in directions didn’t play into our favor as we hadn’t practiced this discipline before. We started of fast and were passing the kilometers quickly despite our inefficiency. However, once we hit 6km to go the eggs began to crack; Nathan was the first to fall off the surging pace, followed by Jacob 4kms after. I was forced to dig deep as we had only three riders left and the time for the team was taken from the time of the third rider. Lawson and Gavin did more than their share of the work to lead us over the final 2kms of the course and when we finished we had posted a new fastest time by 18 seconds. Nathan and Jacob rolled in soon after and both did an awesome job helping us post a fast time. Out time was fast but not fast enough, the French national team finished a few minutes after us and took 24 seconds out of us over the 12km course. They went on to win the stage and take the yellow jersey; Lawson however got the white jersey for the best young rider.
Stage two B was in the afternoon following the TTT. Nathan put himself in the early move and racked up some KOM points and became the virtual leader of that classification on the road. Heading towards the finishing 20km of the race Nathans group of 15 still lingered off the front by around a minute. Then a move came from the pack of another 10 riders trying to bridge across, I saw that none of the other Americans were in the move so I went and with one Italian rider rode to the group of 10 then up to Nathans group making it a lead group of 25. When I got to the lead group two riders had already escaped off the front and were gaining time, I tried various times to get away but the French team rode smart and followed my every move. Two more riders got away and the remainder of our group came in as a sprint. Lawson and Gavin finished a minute behind and another group of 25, Jacob abandoned the race after a bee sting in his foot, which was plaguing him all week.
Stage three was the final and queen stage, seven KOMs and the weather made it all the more epic. Off and on down pour rains with low fog made what I thought would be miserable into an awesome stage. Going into the stage Nathan had the KOM jersey, Lawson was second in the best young rider and I was fourth overall on GC, so the plan was to keep what we had and improve on the others. The stage was hard but everyone on our team is riding strong right now so nothing fazed us. Nathan acquired points on the first three KOMs solidifying his win of that classification, and the rider leading Lawson in the best young rider dropped out for some unknown reason, as well did the 3rd place French rider on GC. Going in the final 20 km again the race heated up. The yellow jersey crashed and the team in 2nd on GC went to the front and began to hammer. The yellow never caught back on and didn’t finish the race, so all of the sudden I found myself in 2nd in on GC. A group of 4 riders then went up the road with the new virtual leader, and I called upon Gavin and Lawson to help me bring it back. Both guys did an awesome job, but Lawson flatted in the last 10 km so Nathan helped him to chase back on all while Gavin was driving our group in pursuit of the 4 leaders. We never caught the leaders but remained close enough to retain my 2nd overall by 4 seconds, and thanks to Nathan Lawson won the white jersey by a mere 6 seconds.
It was a very successful race for the team 2 out of the 3 jerseys, 2nd on GC and both Gavin and Jacob have good legs and are ready for Moscow.