This year the Niagara Classic served the junior's as the provincial championship, seeing as the one for everyone else conflicted with the Tour de l'Abitibi. I hadn't had much hard training over the past 3 weeks and this race was to be my introduction as to what is to come in my lead up to the World Championships, which is just over a month away. You may be wondering to yourself, "Why is Ben updating his blog? he normally only updates it the day before his next race as to prevent overlap as a result of severe procrastination!". Well this race I have just completed is somewhat special and I am excited to debrief it!
Here we go:
The race was an arguably challenging 86km course with 7 laps of the same12.3km circuit. After 6km a break of 4 had gone up the road which included 4 riders, 2 on the same team and two riders representing their own clubs. After 6 more km one of the two team mates unfortunately broke his chain and had to retire from the race meaning that his team now was half the peleton but only 1/3 of the break so I thought to myself "This is good, they will now do more pulls and nail back this break away". They cruised around talked chased hard for 5 minutes then became disorganized and just went back to our old pattern of us all rotating through lazily at 35km/h. After another half of a lap, back to the point where the break initially established itself we saw another rider up the road coming back to us. This rider happened to be the big team's other member of the break away who was just having an off day and couldn't follow the pace. So now let me explain the situation is layman's terms. In cycling winning is everything 2,3,4,5 doesn't matter you need to prove you are superior of the other riders. If this team of 6 riders in a pack of 15 total they have a 40% chance of winning where riders like myself only have a 6% chance of winning. Seeing as how this team has won every Ontario calender race this year I figured they would get to work expecting another win at the biggest one of the year. Alas to my surprise and sadness they did not form a chance and we continued to let the 2 leaders increase their lead, who can now be identified as Robert Cooper of Ottawa and Brandon Lindow of Brampton. As we came to the summit of a steep hill which atop sits the start/finish line I heard the announcer say that the gap was now up to just under 8 minutes and with a mere 36km to go that would be hard to close. I realised the only way people would work and is if people started to throw down and they made what they felt to be the ultimate selection. So as this all flew through my head over the course of 2m I jumped up a few cogs and sprinted up the final 50m of the climb and was quickly into my big ring as it levelled off slightly I looked back to see only one rider following me, Brandon Etzl of the big team, another rider like myself who people had portrayed to me prior to the race as a Co-Favourite with myself. We started motoring at around 45km/h in a two man group battling the two man group up the road. over the course of a 3/4 lap we managed to shrink their lead down to 4m 45sec according to a bystander who said we had taken off 3 minutes in that short distance we had travelled. At the top of the climb I once again tried to get rid of my competition and without too much difficulty I managed to open up a gap on Etzl and with the knowledge of my superior time trial skills over him I managed to gain 2 minutes on him over the last 24km. The real battle though was still in full swing I had 24km to cover solo while chasing a two man break that still held a 3.5 minute lead on me. I worked hard and suffered a lot to bring them back but in the end it didn't come to be at one point I was told I managed to take them down to 2 minutes but then Robert Cooper attacked and went into the TT of his life as the TT of my life was fading fast. I did finish 2 minutes behind Brandon Lindow who became the remnants of the break away while still finishing 3:45 back from the winner. I am content with my result and I feel I made the best of a bad situation which was a race run with negative tactics for no apparent reason.
It's now time for my WouldaCouldaShoulda moments of the day! If I could redo that race and rethink my tactics I would have (in order of importance):
(A) tried to motivate the Big team to do more work (maybe hold the gap at 4 minutes max), it's worth a shot!
(B) attacked to make the select group of Etzl and I one lap sooner with 48km to go oppose to 36
(C) not tried to attack Etzl so soon and done more work with him in order to close the gap down and then once they were caught worry about getting rid of the competition
In all it was a fun day and I am glad to see where I am at, next weekend I will head up to Ottawa for my Provincial TT Championships.