Race Report: Giro Del Cielo

After a mediocre performance at Somerville Crit weekend, I needed a week off the bike to reset. My Chronic Training Load (CTL)--yes, I’m a geek--plummeted, and I’ve been trying to grab back that high-end fitness for the last four weeks. And finally--finally--did I feel “good” again last weekend. My long-lost form’s resurrection proved to be rather timely, as I was registered for a two-day, three-race, weekend over at the Skylands Cycling Giro del Cielo stage race.

Time Trial

The time trial is the most and least fun event in cycling. You get to go fast and get the dreaded FTP test out of the way. But you also have to ride fast. And riding fast hurts. Anyhow, I rolled to the start line after having completed my usual not nearly long enough warm-up routine at 9:46am, precisely 150 seconds before I was to go off. The rest of the race is a blur, and I mostly remember a lot of pain, cursing, and self-doubt. Regardless I clocked in a time of 31:27, which put me sitting in 5th in the general classification--pretty good for the punchy 13-mile course for which I was not particularly well-suited. Most importantly, I beat Coach Mikael Hanson by around two minutes.

Criterium

In the crit that afternoon I was lucky enough to be racing with three other awesome teammates all determined to help me move up in GC. Jack Vogel, Giona Fabbri, and Eamonn Schnell did a great job chasing down every single breakaway while I sat cozy in the top 10 positions the whole race. I really felt good, and I was confident in my sprint. I was gauging myself up the punchy hill each lap, and I seemed to have a great acceleration. With one lap to go, I was in perfect positioning. Jack was hammering it at the front, and I was sitting 5th wheel. The field blasted through the chicane, and I waited just a moment to open up my sprint because I knew there would be a big headwind. I went to the right, stomped on the pedals a few times, and was confident I was going to win. Then a rider swerved in front of me and stopped pedaling. I didn’t want to pull a Mark Cavendish, so I had to sit up. I rolled across the line in 6th place, infuriated. Luckily I moved up to 3rd in GC, but I should have won that race.

Road Race

The next morning I was confident and hungry heading into the 46-mile, rolling road race. My awesome teammates Jackson, Giona, James, and Eamonn were either in every single breakaway or at the front of the race chasing down the breakaway. Unfortunately one rider escaped with a lap to go, and his move stuck, bumping me down to 4th in GC. In the field sprint, I was positioned too far back and I launched my sprint far too late. Even though I pushed 850 watts for the last 20 seconds and was passing people across the line, I let a lapse of concentration get the better of me. My teammates worked tirelessly for me, and I hated to have let them down.

Reflection

Looking back on the weekend, a 4th place finish in the CAT 3 general classification is certainly nothing to scoff at, and at the very least I came away from the weekend with some new knowledge, friends, and upgrade points. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget those $500 the CRCDF squad earned for winning the team GC competition; that money will go a long way to sending an even stronger team to Millersburg next month. Of course I’d like to thank my teammates and our sponsors: CRCA, Toga Bikes, Mavic, and Garneau. I would not have been anywhere near the podium on my own.

Tour of Fort Lee

P.S. Since I’ve got you’re attention, I’m going to use this moment to advertise for the CRCA Fort Lee Crit on July 30th. Please head out to race, spectate, and eat (there will be food trucks!). All proceeds go to the Fort Lee Education Foundation, and we should have a fun, action-packed day of racing. Ted Teyber (Director of Open Racing and member of CRCA/To Be Determined) has been working tirelessly to put on a great event, and he’s been kind enough to let me see it all unfold firsthand.

Matthew Vandivort

New York, New York

Matthew Vandivort is a New York City based cyclist and sometimes photographer who was also a founding member of To Be Determined. You can follow him online at @photorhetoric or http://photo-rhetoric.com/