Dan broke away from his 5 breakaway companions, to win the 4’s race 1:33 ahead of the break, and a full eight minutes ahead of the remainder of the peloton! See the full report from Dan below.
Well the team rolled to the start line a a few minutes early, no thanks to me as I struggled with my knee warmers and shoe covers. We lined up and moved into staging, listened to the announcer give us the quick run down “Yes it is a big boy race, yes there is dirt, yes there will be flats, no you can’t keep the Kysrium Elite wheel you get from the wheel car” and got ready. I was nervous, I had been preparing for months for the race.
Last year I had been in the winning break until my bottle cage managed to fall into my front derailleur and cost me several spots dropping me to 4th place. This year all the bolts were tight and I was pretty certain that I wasn’t gonna have that happen.
It had rained for days before the race and the roads were still a little damp, the dirt would be packed down, but certainly slick in places and I knew that the most important thing was to get to the head of the race before the first dirt section hit.
Back at the start line we had rolled up and funneled in. John and Patrick were up ahead of me by maybe two more rows and I was certainly in the front 20% of the pack. No problem I think, By the time we start going I will easily be able to make my way to the front. The whistle goes, I get ready and…..the guy in front of me stands there as everyone just begins to roll past us. He sits there for a good 5 seconds before he finally starts rolling. At this point I am basically starting mid-pack. “Great” I think, as I begin the slow and arduous process of picking my way through the field up to the front, even having to dodge someone’s windbreaker that they managed to drop right into the middle of the main field.
Finally after maybe 3 miles of riding I can see the front and I know we are coming to the first covered bridge. That is when it goes, the first attack. I immediately decide to jump on it and take off through an opening and jump on the wheel . This move got me back to the front through the covered bridge and John then gave me cover from there to the first dirt section. The dirt was hard packed and very predictable, practically better then the roads we had been on before.
After the first dirt section we were met with the first real hill, one that always splits the field: Perry Hill Rd. A real kicker of a hill. Sean Pantellere from Stampede just used his awesome Thigh hammers and flew up the thing with me suffering up behind him and the rest of the field towing along. I was hoping the selection would begin to be made here as it was last year. As we got over the top and began to descend we all of a sudden saw flares and flashing lights further down the road and the entire field came to a screeching halt behind our Ref car. There had been a crash and we proceeded slowly past two riders sprawled out on the ground with EMTs around them. A scary reminder that we are still mortal and still have 50 miles to go.
Immediately after passing the scene we hit the next dirt section and this is where Sean made the selection happen. This is where he slammed Juniper Swamp Rd. I barely made it over the top with the leaders, just managing to catch back on during the descent through slick mud. The selection had been made and there were six of us. No one had another teammate in the break and we decided that we were gonna make it stick.
As we kept going Sean continued to attack the hills even from the break and he quickly made himself a marked man to the other break riders. They all were certain that if he made it to the end he would crush them all in the sprint, so they began to plot ways to shell him.
Needless to say 40 miles later he was still with us at Meetinghouse Rd. The signs of fatigue were strong in the group. We were slowing down, less coordinated, leaving gaps and beginning to attack each other. I knew that my best bet was to save it all for one attack and do what I do best, try and ride away, alone.
But Meetinghouse road never gave me that chance, too many things can go wrong there so I sat in through that and the group stayed together. Then just as we turned off of the dirt and began the last 10 miles of the race I looked back and saw Sean had left 30-40 feet between me and him, I was off the front, with just enough of a gap. So I said to myself: “Well time to put all my eggs in one basket” and I went.
I turned back and saw that they were not forming a full chase right away and I thanked my lucky stars as I pushed hard to widen the gap between me and the group. And I rode, as I went on I realized that the motorcycle Ref was riding with me, that is when I knew there was a chance, a chance at the top spot. Then came Stage Rd. The last dirt section and last climb of the race. As I started I looked back and saw two chasers coming down the road and all I could think was “Just keep at threshold” and that is what I did, until I almost ran smack dab into the back of an ambulance.
There was an ambulance just slowly riding along the course, I could not pass him and I could see the chasers closing. My Ref began to beep at the offending life-saver and eventually he sped up and I was clear to ride.
And ride I did. I would leave none of it to chance, I rode as hard as I could for the rest of the race. I even passed another Ref and wheel Car that was following a group. The best was hearing one of the members of the other pace line yell out “Keep going! You got this!”.
And got this I did. As I turned onto the finishing stretch I knew I was alone. And I got to cross the line arms raised. Having won Battenkill by 1:33. And all I could think was: “I swear I am never doing this again”. Lets see what happens when next year rolls around.
Patrick and Kolie rounded out a great day for CBS by finishing in 18th and 30th, and Ed completed his 5’s race, one step closer to an upgrade.