Race Report: GVCC Classic Road Race, Bloomfield, NY Masters 45+ (Cat.1-4) – Tim Wern
GVCC Classic Road Race, Bloomfield, NY Masters 45+ (Cat.1-4)
11.25 mile loop x 4 = 44.7 mile race
3,566 feet of climbing
May 21, 2017
1st place 14 starters, Also beat the entire 35+(6) and 55+ (9) fields
64 degrees, overcast and 15mph. southern wind, rained the first lap
Pinarello F8, Zipp 303 Clincher Wheels, Continental 4000S-II tires 23mm front, 25mm rear
Cassette: Ultegra 11-28, 52/36 up front.
Second time on this course. Big advantage for me to have raced here before and really know this course. There are numerous punchy shortish climbs. Never took it out of the big ring. Solid day for this time of year in upstate NY. Really nice tarmac for upstate NY!
I was basing my race plans off of my experience last year. There was, again, a bunch of Canadian racers without much history to see how good they are. But plenty of new faces this year. There were 6 racers from one team named Atlas. Grey jerseys so easy to spot. They were spread amongst the 3 fields 35+, 45+ & 55+. We all raced together but would be scored separately. So they had the advantage of racing together utilizing team tactics. Once I saw all of them at the start I knew it would be important know they would use team tactics. So me against them so to speak. Right away I knew that the only chance for a breakaway would be with one of the Atlas boys in it.
Last year nobody wanted to work at the front either. So I did a lot of it. This year was a tad better but mostly single racers racing their own race like me.
The start is a rolling downhill for a few miles to a hard right turn where the rollers begin. An Atlas racer attacked there and I went with him. I could tell I was a stronger climber as I had to wait a bit on some of the hills. Consequently I also did most of the work on the flats. But I figured it was worth it to work extra hard to get out of sight of the peloton as well as tow this Atlas racer along with me. I could easily drop him later and his buddies were at the front controlling the peloton. And we were getting out of sight in some areas with a nice gap. But around mile 9 or so I flatted. The wheel car was behind the peloton but we were on a long straight rolling road where the car could see me wave. Plus the driver is a racer. Really good luck. Last piece of luck was I barely remembered to bring spare wheels. Glad I did as there were not enough wheels for neutral. So I got my aluminum clincher on the front and was racing before the peloton caught me. But, unfortunately, they were not far behind now and caught me at the start finish line at mile 11. Didn’t take too long to catch my break partner either. So burned some matches there but would do it again. I think I could have stayed away.
The rest of the race involved me covering every attack with an Atlas racer in it. There were probably another 5 or 6 that I went with. That’s when the others in the peloton smartly chased us down. But otherwise were happy to sit in. So the strategy for me was to keep trying to get in breaks but otherwise not pull too hard on the flats and hammer the hills. It worked pretty well as we were shelling people off the back. But there were always many more left in the peloton than I wanted. On the 4th lap my original break partner from Atlas got away with another rider that I wasn’t particularly afraid of. His teammates slowed the peloton and nobody chased. I thought about bridging once they were way out. But I decided that with the wicked wind they would not be able to survive all the way to the finish. I kept hammering the hills and working lightly on the flats and downhills. Others got nervous and started working on the flats then slowly reeled them back in. With about 6 miles to go we caught them. But the Atlas team was well rested now. I expected a flurry of attacks. They sent 2 or 3 and I went with them but at this point everyone left was on alert and chased. The problem with this course is there are downhills after all the short climbs. Need longer climbs to get away. Always got caught on the downhills. All of the final lap I never got deeper than 6th wheel or so. I fought hard to maintain position. Something I am historically not great at. However, I was much more aggressive today. Plus I think half of the remaining group of about 20 were just hanging on. So I was always in good position to respond to attacks. The pace stayed pretty high now as we came down the final miles. With about 2 miles to go 2 Atlas racers went to the front and pushed the pace for a bit. I was to the left and slightly behind as we had a cross-wind from the right. They slowed and tried to get me to go off the front as I had earlier many times. But I slowed with them and stayed on their wheel. Nobody swarmed as nobody wanted to stick their nose in the wind. Then they picked up the pace again. It appeared to be a leadout for the guy in the draft. I did a great job staying 2nd/3rd wheel with both Atlas guys to my right breaking the wind. Hugh tactical error as I saved a lot of energy yet remained up front. I knew position at the last 90 degree right turn to the finishing hill was critical. Plus the final climb was straight into the strong wind. I made the turn 2nd wheel as everybody jumped. I went all-in on this steep punchy climb of about 450 meters. It goes from about 10-11% to about 6% to flat/slight downhill for final 150 meters. After the steepest part I could see I had a really nice gap of about 80 meters. I just kept the hammer down as best I could. Last year I felt like I lost the race when I let up a bit when it flattened. Not this year. Ended up being 13 second gap for a big Win for me! Good fist punch. Been awhile.
3,566 ft Climbing
This was by far my best tactical race in my opinion. I had a well thought out plan and really thought out possibilities before they happened. Was always thinking what to do if this or that happened. Also much more active in trying to get in breaks. The early one unfortunately marked me but I kept trying to tip the odds in my favor. Confidence is big. I really felt like I should win this race. We have a funny way of meeting expectations don’t we? Once we were together on the last part of the final lap I knew it was all down the finishing hill/sprint. That was fine as that is a relative strength for me with the hill. I just absolutely had to be at the front on that final turn to the sprint. Otherwise I risked slower riders getting in my way and losing ground. I have never said this about my racing, but I thought I played this one perfectly. We just had to pull hard enough on the long downhill leading into that critical turn. If the other racers only knew their best chance was to get ahead of me on the final descent. Honestly I would have hit the gas even harder to hold it if needed.
Notes: Here are my notes from last year same race: “Definitely will do this race again. It’s fun to be one of the strongmen in the group. I probably need to push myself to try the solo breakaway. Figured was risky as I liked my chances on the final climb. If it was a flat finish, I would have tried harder to get away. Love a climb to a finish! Dad was there with me to enjoy the podium. Overall a great day! Weather was great. Dad was there. Podium. My first podium as a Cat. 3/Masters racer….not counting NYState TT Championships ;)”
So I came back and executed. Smaller weaker field than my typical New England road races with racers from NY & Boston. But I definitely had to work hard and felt good nonetheless. A win is a win as they say. Enjoy them all. Dad was there again to enjoy the W!
First win in a Masters Road Race if you don’t count Tokeneke CT State Championship which I won but didn’t win the overall race. Some guys from Massachusetts beat me. So felt a bit weird. It’s nice to be 1st across the line.