WET, WILD, AND CRAZY
Who would have imagined that the US Open in Virginia would be 40 degrees colder and wetter then the Tour of Flanders held a day later in Belgium. The race which began in Williamsburg, Virginia had caught many riders by surprise when they awoke to snowy and sub freezing conditions. The weather along with the fact that they couldn't get the television helicopter in the air caused the race to start on an hour delay. With the extra hour to prepare riders were able to shamble together ways to stay warm. Some of these include wearing latex or dish washing gloves, plastic bags over feet, knee warmers on your head, but luckily enough for us our supplies of Sports Balm came in which kept us plenty warm in the cold and wet conditions.
After a few early morning crashes where riders t-boned into each other, on two separate occasions before the race began and a rider or two running into the back of the official car during the neutral start after it had slammed on the breaks after missing the first corner, the race ran fairly smoothly.
The first 100km's to Richmond saw many attack attempts, but nothing that got more then 30seconds. Even with the headwind and crosswind the field was moving to fast for a group to exscape. There were a few hard crosswind sections, and the field strung out which did catch a few riders off guard, but they weren't anything that would decimate the field, that would come in the final closing circuits.
Right from the first out of 9 times up the cobble climb of Libby Hill the field was basically full gas. After the climb there was a flat section before doing a quick decent back into town before basically a 1km climb to the finishing line. Once you got to the top of climb you had to deal with a few corners and a lot of wind before doing a decent, partly on cobbles, before making your way back up Libby Hill.
There were many attacks on the circuits and once again 30 seconds seemed to the largest advantage for most of the day. After a stellar performance put in by the our guys who were watching the early moves, and a few misfortunes it was down to Alejandro and I do what we could to finish off the deal. After Alejandro got a quick bike change I quickly took him back up into the field, and tried to keep him as close to the front as I could, and just stay around him if he needed help. And I'll be honest here, he didn't need much of that.
As the laps ticked down more and more riders where finding there way out of the race, and there were more and more attacks going off the front. With two laps to go is when Alejandro took over. With the two guys up the road and a group of 7 chasers the field began to attack. A few more riders got a gap and began to close the gap on the 7 chasers. I went to the front to try bring it closer so Alejandro could make the jump. I wasn't able to give it as much as I would like, but Alejandro was able to take matters in his own hands and took off on the cobble climb to bridge up to the front groups which had formed into one. For myself I was just behind that group and couldn't get up to it on the final lap.
Alejandro the beast that he is followed the final attack up to the finish and was able to take the field sprint which just came in biting at the heals of McCarty who was in the winning break of 2. This was an awesome performance for the Rite Aid team. We were able to take a spot on the podium at our first NRC race which also happened to be a UCI race.
Next up for me is the Tour of Virginia. After finishing this race last year I have been really looking forward to it. The whole team is going into this one very excited and really looking forward to it, especially after riding some of the courses during camp. We will be looking for another result and hopefully this time we can be standing on the top step of the podium.
Thanks for reading