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.


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.


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.

Race Report: CRCA Grant's Tomb Criterium

Century Road Club Development Foundation's James Fox recounts his season opener at the CRCA Grant's Tomb Criterium. Featuring photos by Daniel Cole and Kristin Reinheimer.

Oh Spring. 

The time of year has finally come when I can stop using the hashtag, #CRITSARECOMING, and I can start yelling at my teammates CRITS ARE HERE! This is my first report on a race for CRCDF, so I should probably introduce myself being going any further…

Hi there—I’m James Fox, I’m 20 years old, and I’m from the Midwest. Also, if you couldn’t tell, I love criterium racing. It is the only type of bike racing I knew before moving to the east coast for school. Clearly, if there is a criterium in or around New York City, I am not going to miss it—sun or rain.

That being said, there was a strong chance of freezing rain on race day. The day before Grant’s Tomb, subzero temperatures and falling rain made all of us shake in our cycling shoes a bit. Bike racing and ice do not go together well, after all. Back in the Midwest, we sometimes call crits “four corners and a prayer”—and that’s even when conditions are perfect

Regardless, as long as the race was on, I knew I’d be on the start line. Don’t forget, CRITS ARE HERE!

Now for the post-race report:

I’ve only raced six or seven Cat 2/3 races before, so during the first 20 minutes of the race, I was really excited. In that short amount of time, I tried to start one break, and I chased down two or three other breaks that—in hindsight—were really unnecessary to chase down. I enjoy a long attack, but that was not smart racing. After those failed moves, I settled into the group and tried to stay sheltered. The race was pretty uneventful (for me) until there were four laps to go...

With four to go, a previous break was caught and the entire peloton slowed down quite a bit approaching the finish line. I already knew that I was going to attack at some point after the five-to-go mark. I've never been a great sprinter so I've been practicing breakaway efforts every week this offseason. But the moment I was going to go was not at any predetermined mile marker, or even a particular point in the race. I knew I just had to pay attention to the flow of the race, and when the flow slowed, I had to attack. You can’t hesitate in those moments. 

Seeing an opening on the outside of the peloton after the slowdown, I attacked going into the corner, and immediately had the gap I wanted, albeit I was alone. Those final laps were absolutely all out, and after going through what felt like the seven gates of hell, I got caught with exactly one lap to go. 

I'm not going to lie—my legs felt blown when I was caught. So I sat up, allowed myself to be swallowed again by the swarm, and tried to recover for the finish. In the end, recovering from that effort in just one lap wasn’t possible, so I rolled through the finish. 

Looking back there is not much I would change about the race, other than telling myself to be more patient in the beginning. I was really satisfied with the race, and I know that one day, the move will stick. 

Until then, I’ll just continue to turn myself inside-out on the turbo trainer.