Tour of Washington County is a 3 stage, stage race consisting of a road race, TT and crit. We’ll try to not get bogged down in the details as we recap each.
Road Race – 38 miles (or something like that) of lumpy-ish terrain. Hard finish with two steep power rollers.
GC really wanted to try out one of the Zipp 404s the SRAM neutral support guys had available so leaving the parking lot in the neutral roll out he blew out his rear tire and slid across on the ground just to ensure nobody would catch on to his master plan. Getting a group of 80 Cat 4s to all stop and wait, even in the neutral zone would be the greatest act of political compromise ever witnessed, so luckily he was able to chase and catch back on. No word on whether Phil Liggett was happy with the total time of the wheel change.
The race was pretty quick with a solid group of guys up front willing to keep things moving. Mike, Jay and Thom all came to the front to make sure Landall was taken care of. In the last lap Landall latched on to Jay and told him to take his time, we were still a long way from the finish and we knew the two finish kickers were going to harder than some people imagined.
There was a comedic level of grunts of disgust cresting the 2nd to last climb when half the guys who had just sprinted realized the finish line was on top of the next hill. At that point, Jay had put Landall in a great spot and despite a miss-shift, he finished 7th on the day, same time as the leader.
Belov had bad luck as an ejected water bottle caused him to flat. He didn’t have the same speedy wheel change as GC and his day long chase never re-attached to the group. It’d have been easy to bag it and pull over in the feed zone where the wives had a tent and cold drinks available. Instead, he put his head down and rode to finish on the lead lap to ensure he was racing and could help the team the following day.
TT – 10ish miles. Not flat. Not hilly enough for Landall’s liking.
With Landall finishing 7th the day before and now being our best GC guy, the team really stepped up and everybody with fancier aero stuff all started offering up equipment to help. With Belov‘s clip-on aero bars, aero helmet and Thom‘s Zipp 404s, Landall was no officially nervous that he was going to have to do the best TT he could. Before, he a laundry list of excuses at the ready. Guess he’ll save those for next time.
Since the details of TTs are boring and not always vividly remembered, we’ll sum it up with the results. Thom went 24:07, for 9th and Landall went 24:41 for 14th.
This put them both just out of the top 10 overall on GC, with Landall only down: 02 on 10th. With time bonuses on the line at intermediate primes, the guys thought maybe they could get those: 02 back at some point in the Crit.
If you read this blog you know how much we talk about the team work we’re trying to do in races. Not to get too sappy, but teammates that are insistent that you use their aero stuff and pretty much abandon their own ambitions for the TT is what makes you turn yourself inside out for each other in races. It’s awesome. You guys should all try it.
The Crit – 20ish miles. 26 laps. 5 corners. Hard, really hard!
It took about 2 laps to realize there wasn’t going to be much sprinting for time bonuses in this crit. The guys up front were drilling it and staying in the front 1/4 of the field was hard enough. I guess your legs do get tired after a RR and TT. About 10 laps in the plan changed from sprint for time bonuses to make sure we’re still in it at the end and try and get the best result possible. The field was decimating every time up the hill through the start/finish and so Landall was hoping the guy in 10th was getting popped.
Again, the team was fantastic. GC and Belov basically planted themselves on the front and made sure we had coverage for anything that moved. A few guys tried early on but this course was pretty brutal and the speed was so high, nothing seemed too promising. Belov shut down at least 3 moves in the last 5 laps. Watching that from 10 wheels back, Landall knew he had better not just roll this thing in. Thom dropped Landall off on Jay’s wheel with 3 to go and once again Landall told Jay to take his time. There wasn’t a lot left in the tank, but that seemed to be the case for most guys still there.
Following Jay through corners either made Landall a better at cornering or took a couple years off his life. Probably the later. That boy is on rails and doesn’t have any fear. It’s really amazing. There was a crash in the last corner with bikes and guys seemingly going everywhere. Jay picked his way through a lot faster than Landall could follow, but again, playing the teammate card, he waited before opening up his sprint. Landall started screaming “GO, GO” and Jay hit the gas. As another rider tried to come around, Jay found another gear in his sprint. Landall couldn’t come around and they finished 9th and 11th respectively.
Hats off to Alex Brown of NCVC who launched solo with 2 laps to go and held it to the line. If you had the legs it was the perfect time as guys were jockeying for position and waiting to sprint. He played the exact right card at the exact right time. I can’t imagine how bad that last lap must have hurt!
In the end the crit was hard enough to shell the guys we needed to move up on the GC. We finished the overall with Landall in 9th and Thom in 11th. Both in the money, which means our end of year BBQ just got that much better!