Sunday, July 6, 2008

Austin Races, times from yesterweek. June 21-22.

Oops. Thought this got posted a few days ago. There was actually supposed to be a couple of posts but I'm combining them now.

Friday Night VIP party- Cougars on the Prowl.

Maureen hooked myself and a few of her lady friends (names will remain anonymous- again, to protect the guilty) with some VIP passes to the VIP party the night before the ATT Crit. Interesting night that started out with wine and hors devours, then moved onto the party. As the only guy in the group I was able to be a fly on the wall and gather some insight to the inner thoughts of the ladies. Let me just say this: guys, you may think you are on "safari", but when it comes to cougars... none of us has a clue. None.

ATT Crit
Cycling is in dire need of good marketing and public relations if it's going to crawl from the status of "fringe sport" to mainstream. It needs showmanship. It needs heros. It needs Rockstars. Bike races should be a show. People go to sporting events to be entertained, so let's find some marketeers who can get this done!

Enter Barry Lee, the promoter for the ATT Crit. Barry has a unique understanding of cycling and great vision in marketing. He created a flat, fast criterium in the 2nd Street Entertainment District (aka: bars) that had thousands upon thousands of spectators.

The course was a square, wide open, fast and dark in places. The last corner in particular was interesting. Four lanes to two lanes for the sprint and the street lights were out so it was literally pitch black. Oh, except for the hundreds of flashes as you were turning! Crazy! I was closing my eyes through the corner so I wouldn't have those ghost images for the next half a lap. People made mention that the last corner was "dangerous" but there was only one crash in it and that's probably about the number there was going to be anyways. Crashes at night are cool to watch because you hear them and you see the sparks. Ha! I'm assuming the streetlight not being lit on the last corner was not the plan so that should be fixed for next year. Oh, did I mention it was FAST?! I had a 29.8mph average after the cool down lap. Yee haw! Momma I'm goin' FAST!

In hindsight, I was actually getting sick this day, I just didn't know it. I took 3 naps over the day, rode about 30 minutes and was tired. Probably not the best thing for a fast and furious race. I was fine sitting in the field but any time I had to go out into the wind I'd be gassed instantly and then I'd spend 2 laps just recovering. Not good.

In the end, Toyota was "leading it out" for their guy, Ivan (I assume). The only problem is that I believe that the art of the lead-out has been lost. If someone is going to win this race, the leadout needs to be so fast that there's no coming around anyone. Everyone is in their spot and that's that. There's really no passing anyone after the last corner. In order to do this, a team must sacrifice everyone to get the leadout spot on. This means that simply going, "hard" isn't enough. The leadout should be doing a full gas sprint, except you're x number of meters too early (assume 200m per rider- so if you're 5 guys you can start 1k early). However, some domestic teams have been trying to stack the front spots, get more money and still win. I think that's what Toyota tried to do. The money was good and they wanted more of it. The leadout wasn't fast enough and as a result guys behind the train were fresh enough... Alejandro Borrajo of Colavita Sutterhome jumped the Toyota guys, got to the corner first and won! A great move but he was enabled by the shabby leadout of Toyota. As a result Borrajo took home $4000 for the win and the entire Toyota team looked like a bunch of chumps.

The "Day After Criterium"
This one was in the middle of the afternoon, in hot, hot, hot Austin. I don't think I've ever felt so horrible in a bike race ever. At the time I thought it was just a sinus infection (if only!). Most of the pros went home, unable to be enticed by the $2000 prize list. Rock Racing stayed and so did a couple other guys from different teams.

To put my race simple terms: If I didn't have a wheel to follow, I couldn't go anywhere at any sort of speed. I couldn't jump, bridge, or really even pedal hard. Basically, I only was able to hang on because of the corners. Corners = coasting and not breaking if you're willing to risk it. I was willing. If I were my normal self, I would have, could have, should have been able to be involved in at least one of the small moves that rolled away from the field of 70 or so riders. But I was not and ended up getting 4th in the field sprint, 15th on the day. Stefan Rothe won the race in his hometown so that's great for him.

A big thanks to Rock Racing and their Rockstar support that provided neutral bottles to any of the P, 1 racers that held their hand out. It was much appreciated!