The last road O-Cup on the calendar was up at Horseshoe Valley resort. Gaelen, Adam and I lined up for a 111km race over rolling hills with 23km laps and a 5km section into the finish.
The race was neutralized for the first five kilometers as we climbed one giant hill out of the valley. Things didn’t look good as I felt like I was hitting my max heart rate near the top of that climb. Finally the red paddle went back into the commissaires car and we were off. I was sitting happily near the front of the pack cruising along until Gaelen decided to test the legs of the peloton by going to the front and putting in a few digs. They weren’t attacks, but seemed to say “Come on you lazy blokes, let’s get moving!”.
After a few attacks from the field, the cat ½ race came into view and sure enough like dangling a fish in front of a polar bear Adam hit the front and brought the pace back up. Soon enough we were cruising by the cat 1s who had looks of bewilderment as we went by. At this point someone in black and green launched a successful attack and the rest of lap one was spent in a confusing mess of chasing, being passed by frantic cat 1 riders and being yelled at by commissaires. Eventually we were all neutralized (including the break) and the cat 1s were sent up the road with a new mission not to get caught by us again.
Once we were back to racing the pace slowed. What do we do when the pace is slow? Attack! Adam flew off the front before any of the E3 riders noticed. Gaelen and I happily rested while monitoring the front as the M2 riders did their thing. Eventually the M2’s thing involved picking up the pace and a lap later Adam was back in the land of elbows and slipstreams.
Finally at the start of the last lap I forayed back to the front just in time to see five riders riding away from the rest of the field led by who else but our WCC ‘Meat Grinder’ aka Gaelen, who gives a recap of his race from here:
“The break was composed of myself, Jamie List (Morning Glory), PJ Kings (BMC Kamikaze), Dan Doddy (Independent), and Jon Gee (Ride with Rendall). We got a smooth rolling rotation going and quickly opened a gap on the main field. Of the 5 riders only Dan and I were E3’s (the others were M2’s). Having PJ and Jon in the break with us was great due to their strength, Jamie seemed to be struggling on the climbs but having him with us is what I think really made the break stick – he had plenty of teammates back in the pack discouraging chase efforts. We built up our gap to the point where we could only look back and see the peloton on the longest straight section of the course. Jamie warned us that the Vinybuilt M2 team would be chasing this move, and I’m sure a few E3’s would assist in chasing us as well. I said to PJ at one point, “we gotta keep working hard, if there’s one thing I learned at Tour De Waterloo it’s that a chasing peloton can make up a TONNE of ground in not a whole lot of time.” We continued to rotate well – barely any missed turns from each of us. I kept my eye on Dan, trying to judge his strength – I was feeling quite comfortable with the pace of the break at this point. We were about 90 km deep, 5 guys rotating at about 40 km/h – pretty much lap 3 of a group one Tuesday night ride for me! We eventually made the left turn towards the finish, with 4.5 km to go. There was a long steady climb on this section that I made a full effort on, and managed dislodge all three M2’s from the group. Dan hung on. I had put myself deep into the red with that effort and got Dan to take a short pull, but it quickly became clear that he was just sitting on hoping to beat me in the sprint. I led him out at a steady pace for the last 2 km and as we came around the final corner I saw the short uphill ramp to the finish line and knew I could out punch him up it. So with about 200 metres to go I just stood up and hammered. I could hear my spectating Dad yell that I had a gap. I crossed the line, with Dan probably less than a bike length behind me. Another win for WCC!”
Back to the peloton! Sweet. With Gaelen in the break it was a free ride to the finish for Adam and I. Team Vinylbuilt, who had five or six guys in the race and precisely zero in the break went to the front to start the chase. The time gaps started coming in… 30 seconds… one minute, a minute 30. With 10km to go Adam and I knew that the break was gone for good. Time to think about the sprint.
Adam went to the front again for a long pull to discourage attacks. Once that was over the pace slowed. Annnnd what do we do when the pace is slow? We attack! In this case up the side of the road through the dirt and Adam was on the front again. Finally we had 300m to go, I was second wheel and it was time to unleash!
After the crossing the line and taking the field sprint I met up with Gaelen who informed me that a) he had made sausage out of the competition and won the race and b) there was only one other E3 in the break with him which meant I was 3rd. Sweet, two WCC on the podium!