Might as Well Have Another Espresso
By Jake Buescher | Mar 20, 2016
Race name: Tour of St. Louis
Race date: Sunday, Mar 20, 2016
Stage 1 Centaur TT
Only Diesel and I were game for the TT. Igor and Ben opted for sleep and not thrashing their legs for 25 minutes before the afternoon crit, which seemed like a wise idea in hindsight.
Over-caffeinated, aero as possible, and as warm as I was going to get (40 degrees and only a skinsuit on), I rolled to the start line. The timer made a joke about me not wearing gloves. I chuckled while shivering and teeth chattering. Joke’s on her! I’m going to shave off .2 seconds with that move.
The 11.6 mile course was rolling and probably very pretty. I don’t recall as my vision was blurred the majority of the TT and I was looking at nothing but the pavement 15 feet in front of me. Ryan and I had guesstimated what a top 10 time would be and I was at the top end of that range about 500 meters from the finish line. Either way, I came across the line at 25:50 in an all-out effort. Nothing was left on the road.
Ryan went off about 15 minutes behind me and was not a happy camper when he rolled over to the car after finishing. He, along with many others, made a brief wrong turn up a hill where no course marshal was present – just a police officer that would bleep his sirens if you went the wrong way. This wrong turn probably tacked on 15-20 seconds to Ryan’s time. We ended up 5th and 8th. He notched a 25:55 that would have surely been a 5th place for him had the wrong turn not been made.
Either way, omnium points were allocated 10 deep (1st – 10, 2nd – 9, etc.) and we had nabbed a few before the afternoon crit.
Stage 2 Carondolet Park Crit
63 starters and lots of big team representation for the 65 minute crit. The course was flowy and had a little elevation gain on the back side and through the start/finish. The cold and wind played a big factor.
It was an aggressive race. Everyone wanted to be in the move, but knew it had to contain all the major teams in the field – LAPT, Bissel, Roadhouse, Mercy, Dogfish, SBR. I relaxed and observed for the first 20 minutes or so until legs started to tire at the front. At that point, I was feeling relatively good. Ben and Ryan had been mixing it up off the front in short-lived moves. It seemed like the appropriate time to take a one lap flyer and… nevermind. That was a bad idea.
I reassessed, somehow recovered relatively quickly, and went again. Still no dice.
Rinse, repeat, and go off again and this time I got a gap that stuck. Riders bridged until we had 6 in the break. Break was two Dogfish, Roadhouse, SBR, and Jadon Jaeger who could have probably pulled the entire field around all day. He was good to have in the move.
We rotated HARD for a couple laps, really trying to pry the gap open. Roughly 3 laps to go or so, Bissel (Hogan Sills) bridged up. A significant effort to say the least. At this point, I knew there were two guys that could outsprint me in the move – Hogan and Grant (SBR). Options were leave it up to a sprint and get 3rd (at best) or attack early, go for the W and probably take 7th if that doesn’t work.
I opted for the latter and attacked with about 600-700m to the line. I pried open a small gap until the final corner, but it was closed down and I ended up crawling to the line for 5th.
Ryan and I drove back to my parent’s place that night in Springfield. We spent the drive eating gas station pizza and discussing the different scenarios the omnium could play out on Sunday. Seemingly, every situation ended with “yeah, so you need to get in the top 10”.
Stage 3 Forest Park Criterium
Similar to the day prior, the crit wasn’t easy. I was aggressive early, but nothing seemed to be sticking. The course was too flat and wind on the back stretch took the motivation out of a lot of moves. After 20 minutes or so, I needed to recover.
Chaos developed into a bit more organized chaos for the next thirty minutes. Attacks were more short-lived and less threatening. The bunch seemed to be accepting that a sprint finish was probably the most likely outcome.
Just as we were seeing 5 laps to go, the pace had lulled after a short move was brought back. I was sitting in the top 5 wheels on the right side of the road and, as if Diesel had read my mind, there he went up the left side smashing a perfectly timed attack. He drew out 6 riders from the field, and a late break was formed.
We’d discussed the situation he found himself in prior to the start. What if Ryan gets in a move that seems promising? Well, as long as there aren’t any contenders for the overall in that move, it’s a win-win for him to drive that break to the line. There were 7 in his move. If they stick it, they nab up all but 3, 2, and 1 for omnium points. That makes it much more likely that I keep my podium spot overall and that Ryan gets a stage result. On the other hand, if there are overall contenders in the move, Ryan tries to kill it and just sits on.
From what I could see, there were no overall contenders in that move with Ryan. He noticed the same. With that in mind, I was perfectly content sitting top 10 wheels and watching the gap grow with Diesel’s move.
I was hearing 10 second gap or so with 3 laps to go. At that point, Bissel (who weren’t represented in the move), put in a huge lap and a half effort to close down the break. Ryan’s move was caught with 1.5 laps to go and I was in good position for what was going to be a bunch kick.
I surfed around for the final lap, always making sure there was some daylight in front of me as there was no organized leadout train. Things were messy. Grant jumped on the backside and Hogan latched right onto his wheel. They pried open a gap and no one was intent on closing it down. With the fear that I’d waste myself jumping over to that move and not have anything left on the finishing stretch, I stayed put. I came into the final corner 3rd wheel, latched onto the right hand curb so no one could come on my inside. The way the tailwind was working on the finishing stretch gave me the push I needed to take 3rd as Hogan and Grant went 1-2 a second or so in front of us.
I ended up tied for points with Hogan on the omnium and the tie-breaker was the final crit placing. Bummed, but it seemed only fair that a guy winning two days in a row takes the overall in a crit-heavy competition. The final stage podium was almost identical to the overall series podium. Grant and I simply had to do a swap from 3rd to 2nd step.
I’m very happy with how we all raced this weekend. It’s pretty gratifying to know that less than half of our elite team can be competitive and almost victorious in a tough field. Ryan set up my 2nd place in the overall with his move at Forest Park. Ben was able to nab two top 20s and was aggressive at the front, clearly showing some good form. Igor raced very well considering this was his first P/1/2 event. We’re off to a good start and I can’t wait to see what we’re capable of as a full squad.