With last week’s performance fresh on my mind I was eager to once again repeat it. The team was down in Naples Florida, to race the Orange Blossom Special. This is an event which consisted of a road race on Saturday, followed by a TT (if you had anything left in your legs) and then a down town criterium on Sunday.
We had 7 guys down: The Boss, Doctor J.Lo, DZ, Junior Mint, Dilly (who would be on the side line fighting off a cold), Ferris Mueller and I. As you can see we have all been assigned nicknames, mine being: show pony, as you can imagine I am over the moon with it.
The road race on Saturday would see us doing an 8 mile circuit 8 times (for the South Africans that is approx. 100km’s). A large break of 15 riders went off the front early on. We had J.Lo in the move but wanted to bring it back as he was out numbered.
The team spent a lot of energy bringing the move back with not a lot of help from the local guys. This ultimately left us a little under powered in the final. The run in to the finish was pretty technical which I didn’t mind, but the style of riding was crazy with hard surges and then guys sitting up. I found myself in about 30th position with 2 corners to go in the last kilometre and took a risky outside line bringing myself back into the top ten riders. As there were two guys down the road we were sprinting for third. I was a bit far back to have an impact on the result and came in 8th place in the group and 10th overall. Junior mint rolled in 12th.
After a big effort in the road race the boss led by example and was the sole representative at the TT. Considering how hard he had ridden in the road race he finished in a solid 4th position, just split seconds off the podium. J.Lo and I watched some of the ‘driekampsters’ head off on their TT and had a good chuckle at some of their interesting dress attire.
Sight seeing Naples on the bike.
I was keen to make amends on Sunday in the criterium. We would be racing a 1.3km “L” shaped circuit with 6 corners for 90 minutes. It would make matters interesting. The racing was hard and somewhat different to a South African crit.
Ferris Mueller represented the team in the early break, and then counter move was covered by J.Lo. This move would ultimately survive to the line where he took 6th, it was a bit flat for the doctors liking.
Back in the field as the American’s like to call it, 2 riders slipped away in the closing laps. The boss and Ferris Mueller turned themselves inside out to try and bring it back for Junior Mint and me, but it wasn’t to be and we were now racing for 10th place. Junior Mint kept me well positioned in the final lap until I messed it up in the second last corner. JM took 3rd in the bunch gallop and me 5th for us to finish the day in 12th and 14th.
Start Smart Cycling (a sponsor of the team) hosted a fantastic weekend of racing and it was great to be a part of it, congrats Marilyne!
With a solid weekend of racing under the belt I needed to step back and reflect. Whilst we may not have pulled off the results we were hoping for, there were a lot of positives to draw from the experience.
I will remain in Naples through this coming week, resting up and training here before we trek 300kilometres up the coast to Tampa. This will be the venue of our first National Crit Calendar (NCC) race. With more of the pro teams present it will undoubtedly be a tough day out.
I must extend a big thank you to Joe and Laurie for hosting us so hospitably in their home over the last few days. It has been great getting to know them and spending time with them. Additionally, I must thank Pete and Cathy, and Chris and Bernadette for having us over for fantastic meals. The team has some great supporters here in Naples and it has been great getting to know them.
Chilling out in style at the Rose’s awesome spot.