A roller coaster couple of weeks for the team with some dramatic highs and some equally disappointing lows.
Wilmington Grand Prix
May 20-22, Wilmington, DE
For the fourth straight year, the Grand Prix has been named to USA Cycling’s prestigious National Racing Calendar (NRC) and the entire team was set to compete. Before we even got on the road both Adam and Jerome opted to not make the trip because they were sick and nursing fevers. This was the first indication this was going to be a tough weekend.
The action opened with the Monkey Hill Time Trial, a 3.2-mile race through Wilmington’s Brandywine Park. The Time Trail is not part of the NRC omnium, but the team was excited to put their Ridley Cheetah Time trial bikes to the test. The TT went from being a real test of strength and a chance to showcase the team’s new bikes to a real test of staying upright. The course is really technical with rough pavement and a large cobbled climb at the end. In the pre-race review we talked about the prologue of the 1989 Tour De Trump which used the same course and became an ice rink as the rain came in. In an eerily similar fashion almost on cue the rain came once again. The cobbles instantly turned slick and forced many riders to crash, while others just slowed down.
Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and the main goal for the day became to stay safe and open up for tomorrow’s NRC race. I am happy to say that all TMK riders stayed upright.
Results: Luke in 22nd, Travis 30th, Ben 31st, and Neil 42nd.
The action continued on Saturday with the men’s criterium along a one-mile course in Downtown Wilmington as the team added the newest addition to TMK’s roster, a nasty stomach bug. Within the opening laps of Saturday’s Bank of America criterium, it was clear that not only Adam and Jerome had been affected by the previous weeks’ travel, full racing schedule, and exposure to germs and bad weather. While team veteran Jon Hamblen rode defensively at the front of the race, hoping to allow younger riders to save their energy and race for their own results, the remaining TMK riders didn’t have the legs or immune systems to match Jon’s efforts.
One of TMK’s strengths is the versatility of its riders and flexibility to adjust roles and tactics as conditions dictate. Late in Saturday’s race, Luke, usually the team’s go-to field-sprinter, signaled that he wouldn’t contest the finale and worked to position Ben and Neil for the finish. Hoping to salvage a result from an otherwise passive race, Neil held position near front the of the pack in the final laps but flatted out with a flat tire just after free laps expired.
Sunday’s 111-mile road race unfolded similarly, as Jon rode selflessly to look after Travis, Ben, and Luke while the field occasionally broke apart on the flat, wind-torn course. Unfortunately Travis, Neil, and Thomas were now all sidelined with the same fever and bug. Luke and Ben stayed in the mix all the way to the finish, with Luke finishing in the top 15 on the day and ultimately 24th in the omnium.
Weekends like these are useful episodes in the life of a young cyclist. With riders suffering from various degrees of illness, team members look after each other on and off the bike and adjust roles accordingly. It was reported that the fastest thing they did all weekend was run to the store for Imodium AD. Fortunately the guys were able to head home for a rest week.
New Bicycling.Com post from Neil
Another Bicycling.com blog post from TMK rider Neil Bezdek, this time on How to Race in the Rain. Thanks to Maxxis Tires and TRP Brakes for keeping us safe and fast this season!
Team Mountain Khakis storms the High Point City Criteriums
Team Mountain Khakis riders started their Memorial Day weekend close to home at the High Point City Criteriums in High Point, NC on Friday and Saturday evenings. Held under a modern, glass-covered bus depot, and complete with live music, a beer garden, and stadium-seating, these races drew an enthusiastic crowd to what promises to become on the regions’ next big race. For TMK, it served as a great tune-up before the team convenes in NJ for Monday’s Tour of Somerville.
Friday’s event started on wet roads, but the rain held off as riders flew around the technical, 6-corner course. It was clear from the start that the wind and technical course would suit a breakaway, and Neil and 2 riders soon escaped the main field. The break swelled to 8 as other riders, including Ben and Pat, bridged up to the move. The break endured multiple hard accelerations in the final laps, but Pat’s attack on the final lap of the race appeared to be the nail in the coffin. Unfortunately, Pat was caught on the long, uphill sprint to finish. As one of the team’s directors, Pat was hoping to set up Ben and Neil for the win, but still held on for 2nd place. Ben and Neil finished 4th and 6th, respectively.
On Saturday, TMK was eager to improve on the previous night’s finish and came out with guns blazing. Despite constant accelerations at the front of the field, the group stayed together as the altered course held the race together. In the final laps, the team assembled at the front of the race to set up for a sprint finish. With 6 capable riders at the front, Jon, Pat, and Travis delivered 3 riders, Ben, Thomas, and Neil, to sprint with fresh legs. The result: a podium sweep! KAPOW!
One of the most unique venues ever. Under the glass cover of the bus depot.
Another podium sweep, by Thomas, Ben, and Neil.
Luke wins Bound Brook Criterium
While the majority of the team was putting on a stellar performance at the High Point Criteriums, Luke, Jerome, and Adam were putting on a similar performance in New Jersey. The Bound Brook Criterium usually serves as final preparation for the Tour of Somerville on Monday and draws a big and highly competitive field. The guys missed the key breakaway of the day but Adam and Jerome led a long and impressive chase that saw the gap to the breakaway slowly reduced. When the breakaway realized they were not gaining any time their impetus faltered and their fate was sealed. Adam and Jerome timed their capture of the breakaway perfectly to set up Luke for the sprint which he won in decisive manner.
2011 Bound Brook Criterium
5/29 Bound Brook, NJ
- KEOUGH, Luke — Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
- VIDAL, Euris Rafael — Foundation/CRCA
- YOUNG, Eric — UCI CT: BISSELL Pro Cycling
- POLLYDORL, Godfrey — Flying Ace Club
- MERAN, Rafael — Foundation/CRCA
- MANNION, Gavin — Trek-Livestrong
- JASKIEWICZ, Colin — Unattached
- MAGNER, Ty — Team Type 1-Development
- SERBEL, Ryan — HurleyMetalFab.com p/b CCNS
- NELESSEN, Guillaume — Van Dessel Factory Team
Kugler-Anderson Memorial Tour of Somerville
The 50-mile Kugler-Anderson Memorial Tour of Somerville, known as the “Kentucky Derby of Cycling”. The Tour is the oldest major bicycle race in the United States and a legend in the lore of bicycle racing. The results at High Point and Bound Brook events had led everyone to believe they had pulled through and had recovered from the bug that went through the entire team. The bug had cost the team a lot in terms of training, preparation, and recovery. When the guys took to the line against the NRC level competition again they realized that it was even more than they had thought. The team struggled early and missed the decisive 20 rider break. The guys mustered at the front and gave it all they could for almost 20 laps. With their tanks already pretty low they really did give it everything they had. It 5 riders chasing 20 and at times it looked like they were going to bring it back. They needed some help from other teams to complete the task. When the others teams finally decided to help with the chase it was just too late. This was unfortunate for them and even more so for us. As we chased, Neil thought about how as rider you can’t escape suffering. “Either you race hard to make the break, or you pay for it by chasing”. As you can tell from the picture it was hard for the guys and hopefully at the very least they are able to learn from and this remember they never want to be forced to chase like that again.
Luke was 2nd in the field sprint for 22nd place and this served as just another reminder of what could have been if they were sprinting for the win instead of 21st.
REST, RECOVERY and the Base camp international (NRC) race in Basking Ridge, N.J.
The Base Camp International, June 2nd at 6:00, features a fast, technical 1.1 mile loop through the center of beautiful Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The course as 8 turns and 1 incline up to the finish.