Tour de Millersburg – Mens Cat-3 Recap

08/09-Aug-2015

Tour de Millersburg is a three event omnium stage race in Millersburg, PA (about 35 minutes north of Harrisburg). Saturday morning is a flat 9 mile TT, Saturday afternoon is a four corner crit, and Sunday morning is a 56 mile road race

Stage 0 – Getting there

Millersburg is a solid 2 hour drive from my house in Royesrford, so staying at home is off the table. Luckily former Sunnybrook racer Greg Sherrick has a family home about 30 minutes outside of town and was kind enough to offer to let me stay with him for a second year.

After a quick stop at Rob’s house to borrow a skinsuit for the TT (thanks again Rob!!) I was off to Millersburg for number pickup and then over to Greg’s to spend the night. Restless nights sleep, with an early start led to bad feelings going into both races

 

Stage 1 – TT

8.5 miles, 85 feet, 27.5 average

The course was shortened this year due to some safety concerns with last years course (unclear what these were), but was otherwise unchanged. Very flat out and back course with several false flats, but not much in the way of challenging terrain.

As this was my first race on my new Trek Speed Concept I was glad for the simplicity of the course and was able to just put my head down and pedal most of the course.

I finished 40 seconds off the leader in 7th place in the cat-3 field and had enough left in the tank that I felt I could’ve easily finished a few places higher with some more TT experience. Maybe next season

 

Stage 2 – Crit

16.2 miles, 853 feet, 25.6 average

The TdM crit is a short course of about 0.7 miles with four 90 degree corners. Corner 1 is very tight and basically has to be done single file. Corner 2 is wider but with worse pavement. Corner 3 is at the bottom of the hill and is dangerous when people bomb through it in an attempt to carry momentum up the hill. Corner 4 is at the top of the climb with no issues. Because of the steepness of the climb only the short 0.15 mile corner 3-4 section is uphill and the rest of the course is flat to downhill.

I was feeling pretty crummy at the start, and despite getting a call-up wasn’t too optimistic about my chances in a crit that I remembered being absolutely miserable in 2014.

As with last year this crit course is essentially a war of attrition. There were few attempts at breaks and it was really just a slow (or sometimes fast) process of people getting shelled from the group and pulled quickly. The officials do a great job here with pulling racers before they can be lapped while still giving them accurate finishing places. Huge kudos to them for a job well done.

The main notable events in the crit this year didn’t happen to me – I sat on the entire time and finished 21st (DFL in the lead group) out of 50+ starters.

Greg crashed twice – once at the top of turn 4 when someone cut his line badly and shredded his front tire. He kept it upright but had a long walk to the neutral support to get a new wheel and restart in the race. Soon after restarting someone laid it down in turn 3 and he had no choice but to ride into them and go down pretty hard himself. This second crash was unfortunately in the final few laps so with no free laps he finished off the back in 30th.

More importantly to the GC, the winner of the TT, Robert Wasch, got tangled up with someone in turn 3 of the final lap and lost his chain. This dropped him all the way to 22nd in the crit and took him out of contention for the lead. Tough break for him as he’d been sitting up front in the group up until that point.

 

Stage 3 – RR

56 miles, 991 feet, 25.5 average

The road race course is an 18 mile loop with a sharp 0.6 mile climb around mile 2 and then mostly rollers for the rest of the course. The  loop ends with a descent, a sharp right into town, and then a slight chicane with another 90 degree right to the finishing stretch. The cat-3 field was doing three laps of this course.

This isn’t a course that suits me unless I can get in a break; the downhill and long flat section at the end really favors the competent sprinters.

Lap one went very fast. There were a few significant break attempts (some including me, some not including me), and the pace stayed pleasantly high (the faster the better on this type of course). The group brought back a four man break (including me) as we rolled through town and immediately another group went (not including me)  which fragmented down to Robert Wasch and a breakaway bikes rider trying to bridge. Before too long it was just Robert off the front.

With one rider (out of contention for the GC win) somewhere up front, there were more attempts at breaks, but in general everyone seemed to have lost interest. Lap 2 was fairly easy with Spinteck blocking for Robert and no one really putting in a concerted chase.

Things started to pick up again partway through lap 3 with more riders taking fliers and guys starting to put in some real effort. Suddenly with 3-4 miles to go we caught sight of Robert again and the chase was on in earnest. The group caught him just before the final downhill (maybe 1-1.5 miles from the line) and his solo 35 mile+ break ended in heartbreak.

I found myself in pretty terrible position in the finale (mostly due to laziness on my part) and ended up behind some riders who had to break heavily in the sharp right hander near the finish. This took me way out of contention so I more or less took it easy (made a point to pass the guys who were heavy on the brakes, but no one else) at the finish and came across in 30th place in the RR, 15th in the GC.

 

Stage 4 – Miscellany

I was pleasantly surprised with my results in the time trial. I wasn’t expecting much out of my first race on the Speed Concept, but the bike performed great and I couldn’t be happier about that result – maybe I’ll pickup a disc wheel and take these somewhat seriously next year.

The crit went about as expected – I’m a more competent cornerer than I was at this time last year, but I am not aggressive enough to shoulder past someone in the turns so I ended up tail gunning more than I should’ve – leading to unnecessary sprints as people let gaps open. Need to shut down passing attempts more aggressively to do well in this course

Driving back to the house in between the TT and the crit was a lot of extra car time, but well worth the trip to have a real lunch and a place to lay down and rest. Would be way better to stay in town, need to remember to pursue in town housing options next year.

Road race was also a disappointment for me – I know I don’t do well in these types of courses, but I had plenty left in my legs at the end and never put myself under enough duress to red line. I let myself get swarmed on some of the downhills and wasn’t able to move up enough on the rolling uphills (slow group = wide group = no passing lanes)

Overall if you’d told me 15th on GC on Friday evening I’d have been happy with it, so the weekend has to be considered a success

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