A long time ago a seasoned bike racer told Landall, “If you bring a fat guy to the line and he beats you, it’s your fault.”
After Bike Jam, we should probably add a something like this to our memorable quotes, “If you let a group go up the road and you don’t bring it back, you’re racing for n+1.” N+1 ain’t winning. So that quote needs some work, but you get the point.
Basically, those two quotes sum up the day for the VeloWorks-Spokes, etc. boys. Jay, Mike, Belov and Landall pinned on both numbers, which, let’s be honest, was a victory in and of itself. Inside the first lap it was pretty obvious that no team or group of individuals was going to take responsibility for the pace making so Landall decided he’d go ahead and shoulder that burden. If you’re going to stick your nose in the wind, you might as well try and hurt some people in the process so he drilled it up the finishing hill 3 laps in a row and got rid of some of the less fit riders. Quote 1, check.
Somewhere in the middle a group of 4 got off the front. In hindsight, this was the move to be in, but at the time, they looked disorganized and didn’t appear to be the composition that was going to last till the line. A few laps later and with their advantage stretched out to around 15 seconds, it was clearly time to start bringing these guys back. This is where quote 2 comes in. Landall would take a monster pull, but his elbow flicking simply resulted in a tired elbow, not a rider coming through to offer any help. Now we understand that guys don’t want to do any work because they want to save it all for the sprint, but again, read quote 2 because as nobody else was willing to help, looks like we’re racing for 5th. Going into the bell lap Landall brought the gap back to about 3 seconds by pulling for the entire lap. In fact, Joe Jefferson who was calling the action, pronounced the break dead. But, once again, when Landall pulled off, nobody else sitting in the front of the group was even willing to put in one hard dig. I guess guys are happy with 5th place?
On the back side the break had gone back out a bit but seemed to be just in reach and since Jay had connected with Landall, we gambled that all of the nervous surges that were bound to happen would close the rest of the gap down. Unfortunately the surges were never fast enough to do that and those guys stayed away.
Belov come up the left side and Landall gave Jay to him going into the final corner. Some dude jumped hard out of the corner and Jay stayed with the lead out figuring the guy went too early. Dude had some power and the initial gap was just a bit more than Jay could close down. He finished 2nd in the field sprint and 6th on the day. Landall was going to shut it down coming out of the final corner but got extra motivated when all the guys that wouldn’t help bring back the break started sprinting. They all sprinted in the middle of the road which left the wind sheltered left side available. He took that line and out sprinted each of them for 8th*.
We definitely want to give credit where credit is due. That winning move was initiated by Dmitri Lemus of Revel Racing. He’s a junior and was in a 3 lap solo effort that was brought back and then sprinted for a podium spot in the junior race earlier in the day. Not sure if he actually won or not, but that kid is strong. Don’t let him ride up the road and assume it’s going to come back. We won’t be.
And just so we’re all clear we’re not here to call anybody out. No names, kit descriptions, none of that. Everybody is entitled to race their race however they want. But when the move up the road doesn’t contain a teammate, racing for n+1 just doesn’t make any sense. At least to us. Everybody at the pointy end of that race should be fit enough to do some work and still sprint if that’s how they think they’re going to get their best result. If you don’t trust your fitness that much, one of the great coaches at VeloWorks is more than happy to help you with that. Contact info is available on this page.
*In record time BikeJam got their results posted to USA Cycling, thanks guys! But, they’re not right. They scored Landall 10th. Has the protest period closed yet? That’s a joke. Laugh it up.