SRS Knoxville

I would loved to have written this blog on how I managed to win my last race in the USA, a sort of fairy tale ending to winning my first one, but it was not to be.

 

The next round in the SRS series saw us heading north-west of Greenville to Knoxville. I was privileged to be wearing the Pez Cycling News Sprinters Jersey on the weekend.

 

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Pre race with Ash.

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Start of the criterium.

 

Saturday saw us tackle a tough crit circuit with a climb tipping the scales at a gradient of 10%, just long enough to make it hurt. The team was active in covering and launching moves off the front. Some 25 minutes into the 75 minute race I attacked at the crest of the climb and got a gap off the front. I spent the next 3 laps solo hoping someone would bridge across to me, but it was not to be and I was sucked back into the field.

 

With a dangerous move off the front nearing the finale, the boys got on the front and ramped up the pace. The break was shut down but two other riders snuck away and managed to stay away which meant going into the sprint we were fighting for 3rd. I got pushed out on the last corner and had to slam on brakes to avoid a meeting with the kerb, a half salvaged sprint netted 8th place. It was enough to keep the sprinters jersey on the day.

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Going solo kinda hurts.

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Kept the sprinters jersey.

 

The next morning we lined up for a seriously fun 145km circuit race. The 9 mile circuit was compromised of mostly: narrow, twisty and undulating country roads.

 

Dilly got himself solo off the front in the first lap and spent the next 6 killing it all alone. It provided us with a great position as we could just sit on any moves going off the front. The counters came late on with DZ representing in a strong move of 4 which would eventually see him going to the line with Winston David and taking 2nd on the day.

 

The Doctor and I got into the chase move of 11 riders. With most of the bigger teams represented up front the chase wasn’t fully committed and we wouldn’t see the front four again. J.Lo and I covered the attacks in the finale of which none succeeded, so I had the privilege of the Doctor leading it out for me.

 

All was looking good until we hit the last corner with 250m to go and with a guy coming around the outside and cutting the corner sharply it saw 3 of us go down. It was a disappointing end to my US campaign but good to hear that DZ had secured a very solid 2nd.

 

All in all it was a great last weekend spent with the No Tubes boys. Thanks guys for an awesome year, it was fantastic getting to know you all.

 

Arriving home on Sunday evening was also the start of our last two days in Greenville. It was a chaotic time of packing up, cleaning up and saying good bye to so many people who had become such good friends. Greenville was an awesome place to live and train and I really hope that we will be able to come back next year, you never know, it would be a fairy tale of some sorts.

 

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Pre race spin with the boys.

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Criterium.

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 Last ride on the Future Champ with Ash.

 All Racing Images Credit: Ash Smit

 

 

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My love-hate relationship with criterium racing

Criteriums, or rather crits can be funny things. One week you’re flying around a course effortlessly and the next you’re hanging on for dear life.

 

As most of my regular readers would know by now, a crit is a bicycle race held for typically 60-90 minutes, on a 1-2km circuit, usually in the downtown area of a city in the USA where you race around the circuit doing laps. These races make up the bulk of the American Cycling Calendar and if you want to succeed in the States on a bicycle, best you learn how to ride a crit.

 

A few weeks ago after the French Broad Classic Criterium, I was in love with crits all over again. A 5th place on the night along with a 2nd in the mid race prime had earned me the Pez Cycling Sprinters Kersey in the SRS series.

 

Fast forward a few days and we are at the Crossroads Classic. A 6 day omnium, with 5 crits and 1 road race. I really suffered through the first crit and managed to finish in the front group but down in 24th place.

 

Onto the next race and I was eager to make amends. However the race had another idea for me and along with ¾ of the rest of the field we were out of the race less than 30 minutes in. The circuit (650m in length), was perhaps too small for an 80 strong field. I have no room to complain though; it was the same for everyone.

 

The third evening of Crossroads took us to the Salisbury Downtown Crit. Again after the previous evening’s disappointment I was keen to make amends. I had a better race but was not where I wanted to be yet and finished towards the back end of the front group.

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Start of the Downtown Statesville Crit.

Image Credit: Charlotte Sport Cycling

 

The fourth crit took us to downtown Statesville for an ‘L’ shaped 6 corner, 1km circuit. It was a fast and flowing course which saw us average over 45km/h! I was riding and positioning better and took 16th on the night, a step in the right direction, not quite a step onto the podium though.

 

I have learnt over the past few months there are so many factors that affect bike racing and especially crit racing. Your start, your positioning, your legs (duh), your mental state, your preparation going into the race etc. etc. I could go on and on. Ultimately at the end of the day, control what you can, and don’t worry about what you can’t.

 

Although I titled this blog, “My love-hate relationship” with crit racing, on reflection I wouldn’t say it actually ever gets to hate. Some races go so well I think ‘Ah I’m going to become a crit dog!’ and some not so well, it’s not so much the hate but rather the disappointment.

 

I have one more crit left to race in the States and I am looking forward to it. I have got to end things on the right note! Here’s to floating around that course effortlessly.

 

*crit dog – American slang for a bike racer who just races crits.