Race Report

April 8, 2012

WCC Wins S4 Good Friday Road Race

Westover-Strabane

April 6, 2012
By Gaelen Merrit

Alarm went off at 6 am sharp. I jumped into my race kit, made a fruit smoothie, and Tom arrived right on time at 6:15. Short drive and one Tim’s stop later and we were at the Flamborough race track. We met Adam, Blake, Kelly, Alain, and a few other Waterloo locals: John, Phil and Quinn. After signing in and a chilly warm up I lined up at the start line at the front with the rest of the team. The Master 3’s were sent off 5 minutes ahead of us: Blake and John took off with them. I took a few swigs of Gatorade, and tried my best to stay warm. I was pretty nervous: this was the first race of the year and I really had high hopes for today.

Finally, the starting horn went off and I accelerated up to speed, and quickly passed the pulling duties off to Tom, who rotated through to Adam, who rotated through to Quinn. Felt pretty awesome to be part of such a strong squad! A few other teams were at the front setting the pace early on, and we rolled through the first section at a solid pace.

After about 6 km or so of riding west we turned to the north into a very light headwind. About 1.5 km up the road, the only climbs of the whole course began. Our plan was to have me put pressure on these climbs over each lap. There were a few reasons for this. For one, in the absence of significant winds, there wasn’t really any other ideal place to form a breakaway (which is more of an ideal situation for us, as I’m a much stronger rider in that kind of situation, and it would allow Adam, Tom and Quinn to sit up in the pack, relax, and let other people try to get organized for the chase. If no breakaway formed at the very least I’d hopefully do some solid damage to the main field… hopefully both spitting weaker riders out the back and adding a bit of lactic acid to the sprinter’s legs. I found that after the first section of hills there were several riders glued to my wheel, with the rest of the peloton working frantically to prevent any break from forming. I think it made sense from everyone’s perspective (i.e. both our team and others) that no breakaway should get away today: it was only a 56 km long race in nice weather. As a result of every team having this similar strategy, the pace was very high: several teams and other riders had no issue going to the front doing some solid work in a effort to dissuade any attacks. After about 17.5 km we came to the final corner of the four-corner course. I made a mental note here to gauge how far the finish line would be after coming out this corner on the final lap.

We rolled through the second lap in a similar fashion, at a decent pace, with Adam, Tom and Quinn policing the front on the flat sections and me applying pressure on the hills again. Having a team made a HUGE difference in this situation. With at least one or two teammates near the front at all times, I could softly disappear into the peloton without a single worry about missing a break: I knew they’d either be in it or they’d have it covered. Another notable thing about this lap was that we caught up to, and passed the M3 field here.

On the third lap, it was business time. I slowly moved up through the peloton and quickly found Adam’s wheel near the front as we approached the hills. The “human sail” gracefully guided me right to the front of the group at the base of the first climb, and I put in a good punch. I gapped everyone and just kept on pedalling. I rode the next two hills off the front and made a few shoulder checks: I guessed I had maybe a ten second gap at the absolute most. Then I just put my head down and kept on working for maybe another 2 km, riding hard on the rivet. I turned around and to my dismay I saw the peloton right behind me, being dragged by one guy on team chch. Glued to his wheel was Tom. As I was brought back into the group, chch guy said to me, “You’re not getting away that easy!” Literally as soon as the words came out of his mouth, Tom just shot out from behind his wheel in an attack and his words were quickly reduced to four letter ones.

Tom was chased and quickly caught. Then Adam went. Adam was caught. Then I went. Then I was caught. We rounded the bend to head south with about 3 km, and one more corner to go. Other teams put in some good attacks here and with the tailwind we were absolutely flying at very high speeds. At this point I knew it would come to some sort of a sprint finish and I had to make sure that I was in a good position going into that final corner, as there was only 300-400 metres to the finish line from there.

About 500 metres from that final corner, two riders, Jordan Broad (chch) and someone else I couldn’t identify, managed to open a gap on the rider in front of me. Another rider charged out from behind my wheel and tried to close the gap to the now breaking-away duo. After passing me on the right, this hard-chasing rider touched wheels with the guy in front of me: it was overall pretty sketchy and it seemed like I was boxed in by these two guys and would probably crash due to the way this guy was riding. Fortunately I didn’t dwell too long on that prospect and as the two wobbled and slowed a bit I moved to my right, literally onto the 6 inch shoulder of the road. I kinda half bunny-hopped back onto the road without losing too much speed and just stood up and hammered to catch these two guys. I had the gap closed by the time we hit the final corner, making me third wheel and in an absolutely ideal position. I thought at this point I had a good shot at this. Jordan Broad was first wheel, and he just starting sprinting as soon as he got around the corner. The unidentified rider who was second wheel was instantly gapped. I jumped out of his slipstream and just starting sprinting as hard as I could. My legs just screamed at me but I tried my best to shut out the pain for as long as possible, and after what seemed like an eternity of sprinting literally side by side with Jordan, I crossed the line maybe a half wheel ahead of him. My first victory for the WCC race team!

After the dust had settled, I found that the WCC made quite the impression at the first road race of the year.  We had 4th, 6th, and 8th finishers in Quinn, Tom, and Adam respectively as well! To top it off, Blake Ellis (who ultimately decided to do the M3 race about 2 days before the event), managed 8th place in his race. Incredible finishes from everyone in a WCC jersey. Philip Sheffield, another WCC member riding for Team Braun’s and fellow cross-country touring cyclist, managed a solid 11th in his first ever road race as well. Great job everyone!

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3 Comments


  1. scottbikes

    Way to go gents! Way to make account proud.
    Scott

    (sent from Mallorca -- where the riding is incredible!!)


  2. Igor

    Awesome!!! Congrats to all!


  3. Morten

    Congrats to all of You! What an excellent start to the season!



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