Monday, February 16, 2009

A Big Week & The Big Show...

All week you could feel anticipation within the group for the Amgen ToC and the kids were fired up. We started the week with our "15 minutes of fame" courtesy of KXTV channel 10, who were very interested in our program and our riders given the success this group has had in developing young riders. Thanks must go out to all the kids and the parents for making an effort to get to the shooting on a day off Monday.

Tuesday new kits arrived. Something about a new kit, they just "feel" fast. If a new kit wasn't enough motivation for the weekends crit how about a training ride with a few of your favorite Pro-Tour riders? Seems Astana, Saxo Bank, Garmin and Ouch were taking in the sights along the American River bike-path regularly, just ask Robby or Torey. Cool indeed.

When the fireworks started for real the weather looked ominous. By the end of the AToC prologue rain was falling and the next day's start in Davis would prove interesting, in particular the Juniors crit which was to follow.

First I have to tip my cap to every single rider, male or female, new or experienced that saddled up yesterday. The conditions were very rough and it was clear early they would stay that way.

In the 10-14 race the field shattered on lap one as a rider from Team AC (above category) attacked from the gun. This move and the wind blew the field apart. We had several riders in this group, most new, some riding their first race. Each did a great job. Karch was able to make it into the initial chase group and was riding very well with national champion Dylan Drummond from Tieni Duro and Matthew Valencia from Sugar CRM. They rode with women's' junior national champion Katrina Howard and a rider from SJBC. The SJBC rider and Katrina attacked and left the three to fight it out. The rain and wind was treacherous and with 3 to go Drummond tried to slide under a lapped rider and lost his front wheel. Like dominoes all three hit the deck and slid. Karch was last man in but first man up and remounted to chase, sadly Matthew was not so lucky and we hope his injuries are minor.

In the end Karch motored solo for the last three laps winning the 10-12 division, he was stoked. New rider Charlie Kimball was having a very good first ride until disaster struck in the form of a blown from tire and a resultant crash. I hated to see him hit the deck and suspect we will see more of him in the 13-14 as he looked good. Young Will Kanz also rode well getting some experience and toughness in the difficult conditions. And Cami Rolles and Spencer Salk also gritted it out for the home town crowd. Would be nice to see them out again...

The womens 15-18 was all about tactics. Riders were coy about working and left it to others to work. April gainfully took up the effort and was always at or near the front. At the back end newcomer Kayleen Dobner was learning the ropes in the toughest of conditions. She was gapped off early, but hung in and finished, well done. For April, clearly the fitness is there. In the end however those who had sat-in wicked it up and jumped her so she'll have to wait another day to get that win.

The 15-16 Men's field was large and stacked. Torey and Robby would have to stay near the front and counter Tieni Duro and Specialized. Torey appeared to get a bad start and was fighting from the back, Robby on the other hand did everything right. He covered the early move, was vigilant on the front and looked good. Then it happened, someone moved left and overlapped, in a flash 4-5 riders tumbled, sadly Robby among them. This guy gets my hard-luck award for the last two weeks. The upside, he was scraped but unhurt, the downside, the bike was not. His day was over. We need to pull together behind him to keep his season on-track and offers of a ride were there by the end of the day. Thank you, this is what "team" means.

The 17-18 would be much like Cherry Pie, Specialized on the sharp end. They had Four riders who attacked relentlessly from the gun and yet time after time one ominous force drug them back, El Gigante. I've ridden with Zack Wick since his initial days as a 13-14 and recall working with Steve to get him home from the race ride after a long day doing all he could to hang on. Yesterday I saw a young man who was simply a mental rock. With almost no help early on, young ZW made every right move. Mid-race Tap's was able to help out as two groups came back together. Cody was clearly not on a good day but was giving it his best to help Zach. With one to go it was El Gigante who threw down his own move and it almost worked. Specialized was shocked and Charlie Avis gave chase but couldn't close, this was special. Out of the last corner Zach had the gap but thee finish was just too long, Charlie bridged and then jumped with 50m to go, game over.

Ride of the day? Unquestionably ZW, everybody in the field knew it. Down the road I would be very weary, he is due his payback.

1 comment:

Robby H. said...

Thanks a lot for the support gang.

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