Tour de Rock – Queen Stage(s)

I missed the Queen’s Stages because of soccer games with BK. There were 2 Saturdays with Long Rides. But, for completeness of the record, here’s Bill’s Race Reports on those rides.

On 1/9/16, Bill’s Race Report for Queen’s Stage. Powerman Zofingen. 61.8 mi.

queen stage.png

Hard men, unite!

This was a stage for the tough guys, and a full complement of tough men showed up: Alvin, Bill, Bryan and Philip for the Gunners and Jason, Gregg, Bob and Hank for the Pushers.

Even though it augured to be a long, hard stage, the pace from the start line was brisk. It only took about 1/2 mile before Jason was pushing matters by going off the front.  The group let him go for a while, then a chase ensured. Bill busted out of the pack and bridged most of the gap, bringing along Alvin (who finished off the bridging action), Philip and Bryan.  At that, much of the tactics for the day were set.  We had a lead pack of four Gunners and a Pusher, while the other three Pushers (Gregg, Hank & Bob) formed a pack of their own and settled in for the day.

The lead pack stayed fairly tight until the first ascent up KOM Hill, and that climb strung out the lead pack.  Philip was the first to not be able to respond to acceleration, while further up the hill when the climb got steep, Jason drifted off the back of the pack.  On seeing this, Bill hit the jets on the steepest part of the climb, pulling the Gunners in his wake, and they were able to gap Jason by about 500 feet at the top, increasing to about 1,000 feet over the top.  Alvin made a bid for the KOM points at the top, but was out-sprinted by Bill who crossed over about 100 feet ahead of Alvin, then soft-pedaled over the top to ensure Alvin and Bryan got back on for the descent.

Coming down the long descent from KOM Hill, the lead group of Bill, Alvin and Bryan did a decent job of working together to keep the pace high, but Jason had the bit between his teeth today. It was a long descent and Jason’s extra weight and power came to good use, and he was able to catch the lead pack near the bottom of what was roughly an 8-mile descent.  Meanwhile, coming up KOM Hill, the Pushers pack splintered, leaving Hank, Gregg and Bob (in that order) to fend for themselves.

Once Jason was back with the lead pack, that pack stayed together and even worked together to some degree.  There were some surges (mostly initiated by Bill), but nobody was really interested in going solo or in a 2-man breakaway off the front with 35 miles or so to go.  Further back, Philip was going a good job of keeping his pace high and staying ahead of the riders from the Pushers.

Things stayed this way through the first third of the second lap, except that Philip was starting to weaken, and as such was starting to be gradually reeled in by Hank. However, the unexpected happened, and about 10 miles into the second lap, Jason got a flat, and lost about 1.75 miles to the lead pack while he replaced the tube.  Until then, he had been one of the stronger riders in the lead group, and looked to be in position to contend for KOM points and/or a good finishing position.  The flat handled all that.

It wasn’t until the second ascent up KOM Hill that we had more action. The three riders from the Gunners (Bill, Alvin and Bryan) were dicing to see who had the most left in the tank.  Bill went first.  Bryan stayed with him and Alvin got dropped.  But then, Bryan started to weaken (cramps) and fell back about 100 feet, and Bill backed off the pace a bit to give him a chance to catch back on.  On seeing this, Alvin turned it around and pulled himself back up to Bryan and passed him, going after Bill. Once this occurred, Bill hit the jets again and rapidly pulled Alvin away from Bryan.  At the top of the second time over KOM Hill, Bill once again pulled away from Alvin, taking max points, while Bryan came over later in third.

Over the top, Bill and Alvin had gapped Bryan by about 1/4 mile, and set about expanding that lead down the long descent, with Bill doing most of the pace-making. Bryan chased hard but was unable to go quite as fast as the lead two, and the gap gradually grew to almost a mile. Jason was in no-man’s land behind Bryan and also appeared to be losing ground to cramping.

Behind the lead group, Hank was working hard and finally caught Philip on the second ascent of KOM Hill, timing his surge so that he was able to drop Philip handily.  Behind him, the final climb up KOM HIll was turning into a death march, with cramping and protesting legs becoming the order of the day for the other riders.

The final action of the day was precipitated by another mechanical. With about 10 miles to go, Alvin dropped his chain at the base of a shallow climb. and Bill pulled a Contador and did not wait for him, carrying on up the hill.  Bill was able to gap Alvin by about 450 feet, but then Alvin got back on his bike and started to turn in a sparkling performance, holding wattage near or over his FTP for almost 10 minutes straight.  He had closed the gap to Bill down to about 200 feet by the top of the hill and kept the pace up down the next descent.  He caught Bill with about 5 miles to go, and the two of them started to work together again to get to the finish as fast as possible.

As they got into the final mile, the co-operation started to break down until they settled the finishing order among themselves.  At the line, Alvin crossed first, virtually side-by-side with Bill in 3:08:59 (before time bonuses).  Bryan came across about 3 1/2 minutes later at 3:12:33, while Jason was another 5 1/2 minutes further back at 3:18:01. There was then a substantial gap back to the other finishers, with Hank finishing at 3:28:48; Philip at 3:39:49; Gregg at 3:47:11 and Bob at 3:48:56.  The Gunners’ overall time for the stage was 13:09:45, while the Pushers posted a 14:22:56.

In the KOM points, Bill vacuumed up max points with 28, Alvin took 18 and Bryan got 9.  The KOM points awarded today were essentially an average of the normal “A” and “B” points, since we had both “A” and “B” riders in contention.  The same will be done with the next running of this stage, if appropriate.

The race for this coming week will be rollers, with the course announcement to be made shortly.  Meanwhile, KUDOs to the hard men who came out today and made a memorable race of it!  Well done, gentlemen!

On 1/16/16, Bill’s Race Report – Queen Stage

Today, a group of royals came out to ride.  There was lots of action, and the overall outcome was in doubt until late in the race.  Racing for the Gunners were Ben, Jeff, Peter & Luis; while racing for the Pushers were Tyler, Jonathan, Mike Webb & Allison. 

In respect of the length of the race, the riders agreed to start out at a “reasonable” pace, instead of trying to drop each other in a mad scramble.  And, so it was.  All the riders stayed together for 9 miles, when a surge on the descent from the first small climb of the day caused Luis to pop off the back. A mile later, Mike got dropped. 

Once the lead group hit KOM Hill, the pace picked up and Allison got spit out the back.  However, within a half-mile, Mike had caught up to her and the two of them started to work together, and would stay together for the rest of the stage.  A couple of miles up the hill, Jonathan succumbed to the pace, and by Mile 14 he had hooked up with Mike and Allison to form a chase group. By this time, the lead group consisted of Ben, Tyler, Jeff and Peter. 

Ben and Tyler tested each other a few times up that first climb, making Jeff and Peter work hard just to stay on.  However, at the top of the first KOM, Tyler was able to accelerate away and stay away, crossing over in front of Peter, who made a good surge to take 2nd and Ben, with Jeff close behind in 4th. 

Once over the top of KOM Hill, the lead group settled down into a fast pace and the pace of attacks gradually slowed down, as it became apparent by failed attacks that nobody was going to be able to get away from that group.  Behind them, the teammate group of Allison, Jonathan and Mike worked hard on working together, gradually putting time into Luis. 

This situation stayed virtually unchanged until the lead group hit KOM Hill the second time.  The pace up the hill on the 2nd climb was ferocious, and it became a matter of seeing who would have the most left in their legs.  At about Mike 43, where the pitch of the hill went from 6% to 10%, Ben made a big surge which dropped Jeff.  He continued the torrid pace and attacked again about 1/2 mile later, with this attack finally taking Tyler off his wheel and Tyler’s response to Ben knocking Peter off his (Tyler’s) wheel.  In spite of Ben’s hard surge, Tyler gamely kept the pace high, and Ben had only gained about 400 ft. on Tyler by the top of the hill.  Peter had dropped off the about 1/2 mile behind Tyler, and Jeff was about another 1/2 mile further back.  In the chase group, Jonathan attacked at almost the same point in the hill a number of minutes later, dropping Mike and Allison. 

As the leaders went down the long descent from KOM Hill, Ben increased his average watts by about 20 and kept the pace high, gradually pulling out a good gap on Tyler.  Tyler’s pace was also high, leading him to expand his gap over Peter, who was similarly gapping Jeff.  Meanwhile, in the chase group, Jonathan was steadily putting time into Mike & Allison.  By the the the leaders reached the bottom of that descent, the approximate gaps were: Ben to Tyler 1/2 mile; back to Peter 2/3 mile; back to Jeff 1/2 mile; back to Jonathan 5 miles; back to Mike/Allison 1/2 mile, and back to Luis, another 5 miles. 

Matters stabilized at about those distances over the last 10 miles or so of the stage.  However, all the riders were putting full effort into maintaining their pace down the long, long (friggin’ unending!) descent constituting the last 15 miles of the race, even though the discomfort was growing by the mile.  Jeff was showing distinct signs of suffering starting at about Mile 54, which caused him to lose some time to Peter over the last 10 miles.  In addition to Ben, both Peter’s and Jonathan pace’s over those last 10 miles were above their average for the stage, as they kept the power coming in spite of the build-up of fatigue. 

At the line, the times (before time bonuses) were: Ben 2:50:03; Tyler 2:52:19; Peter 2:54:52; Jeff 2:58:45; Jonathan 3:09:41; Mike 3:19:15; Allison 3:19:16 and Luis 3:49:51.  The Gunners picked up abut 7 minutes overall on this very long stage.  In KOM points, Tyler picked up 27, Ben took 25 and Peter got 15.  All riders who were unable to do this stage were assigned times based on Rules 14 &15. 

My hat is off to all the riders from today’s stage and last week’s running of this same stage.  Well done to you all, and may your efforts be rewarded by speed and strength in your upcoming races this year!

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