Thursday, May 7th, 2007
This years Cone Azaila greeted riders with sunny skies, cool temperatures, and what most would call blustery conditons. With the wind blowing and the dirt roads on course it was going to lead up to yet another exciting addition of this event.
The race is held on a 18km loop with 7kms of dirt each of the 7 laps. The longest section coming a km after the start finish line was 4kms in length with a strong crosswind blowing left to right across the farmfield landscape. At 10:30 in the morning 70 plus riders took to the roads and along with batteling each other the riders delt with the roads, wind, and flats.
Almost straight from the gun attacks went up the road as the riders entered the first dirt road sections. A group of 5 quickly opened up a gap of which included Texas Roadhouses Albers and Martin, along with Greg Christian of WCMR, and a Priority Health rider. Soon after a slue of riders were looking ot make a charge off the front and open a gap. A few Abercrombie and Fitch riders with a few others where trying to form a chase group coming off the first section and heading to the second section.
As we hit the second section, which was much rougher covered with holes, more gravel, and just after the first lap many waterbottles, some more guys found themselves stretching out thier legs to get up the road in the 1 mile of tailwind section on dirt. Josh Tarrent was the first to go, and relizing that there seemed to be a good amount of strong riders heading up, I decided it was time to go. I jumped away with Ben Whitehead of Priority Health on my wheel. We were moving pretty quickly as we passed a few unfortunate riders who had already been casualties on the day with flats and caught up to what would form as the chase group.
Now there was 4 or 5 up the road and 6 in the chase group after only the first lap, and this would turn into the race. The second time through the dirt I put it in the gutter and hammered to try to catch the front group. I found myself in between groups in pursuit of the front group which had a 25 second gap. After spending half a lap chasing only being able to get within 15 seconds and the others still hanging right behind me by 10 seconds, I decided to wait and hope that we could all do it together more effectively.
All that seemed to happen after this is that the gap went up to almost a minute heading into the 4th lap. Senseing the urgency of the race rolling away I once again decided to hit it on the long dirt road section. The gap came down fairly quickly and the chase group had shrunk. I decided just to keep going hard and see if we could get them back. I ended up making it across shortly after the second dirt road section with just one other rider on my wheel, Jeff Kock of Priority. Now the front group was 6 riders with a few riders not to far behind.
All of us continued to work and once again began to pull away. I found myself putting in another effort the next time around to get a feel of the other riders. I ended up pulling off the forn wtih Paul Martin, but he didn't seem to interested in giving it ago so we were caught by his teammate and Greg, but in the process loss the two Priority Boys. Paul, Greg and myself continued to work together taking even pulls and Albers spent much time sitting on.
The last time through the dirt section saw the last of the attacking to the finish. I gave it a go twice, but wasn't wearing out the other riders as they were riding well, and after taking the previous lap fairly easy. Then each of the others took their turn in countering and coming off the first section of dirt we were all together.
The finishing stretch was a 2km drag staight into the wind. I knew if it came down to a sprint it would for sure lessing my chances of winning and anything can happen. I was worried about going early because of the head wind so I wanted as many riders in front of me and was hoping I could go around in the last 100 meters. Plans changed as Albers attacked just inside a km to go and Greg jumped on his wheel. I was going to jump on his Gregs wheel, but Martin was looking like he was going to so I was going to let him and then come around like planned. Unfortunelty for me he let up and a gap opened to the other two. I decided I had to jump and go for. Just as I started Greg caught Albers at the 500 meter sign and took on glance back very wisely countered and kept going. Greg rode strong in the final 500 and I was unable to close the gap, and he rode away with a very nice victory. I came across in 2nd. I knew a sprint would be a bad thing, but the others where riding well and thats the way it ended up.
Thanks for reading