Date: Aug 5-6th, 2017
Race: Tour De Millersburg Stage Race
Location: Millersburg, PA
Rider(s): Cat 1/2: Deborah, Evelyn and Emily
Cat 3: Andy
Told by Deborah Leedale-Brown
What a great weekend of team racing it was, our only sadness was that Cheryl Clarke woke up the day before with fever and sore throat and so despite all her efforts to make the start line, it just wasn't going to happen. So our team tactics would have to change a little without Cheryl, but we were still determined to make an impact on this race
After Friday night storms, Saturday started out a little overcast and cool, with a significant wind. We all rolled out on our bikes, and headed off out of Millersburg to put in a long 10 mile group warm up, most important when its such a short TT
One by one we headed out on to the 8.6 mile time trial course. It was a tailwind out to the turn around then a moderate head wind back in. With only Andy and myself on TT bikes, and minus our strong TT rider Cheryl, we knew that our best results were needed to start this stage race off strong.
After the TT we were able to rest and refuel at our host housing for a of couple of hours. We headed over to the crit course with enough time to get the TT results and we were able to take 30 mins of lap riding as part of our warm up. I had come 5th, Andy 10th, Emily 12th and Evelyn ?? in TT, so our plan was to keep the crit fast and strung out since the course was short and narrow with a hill. With me lying in 5th it was planned that I would do very little in the crit and just stay out of trouble and in a good position to be either in a break or contest the sprint finish, Emily manned the front, communicated, and no attacks escaped the field. Going into the final lap, we were positioned well, it was the plan to have Emily drive the pace, this was complicated however by the fact we caught the rest of the field and lapped them just before we had a fast turn up the hill for our final time. I needed to stay focused and not lose touch with the top 3-4 riders, once up the hill it continued over as short straight gentle rise then went slight downhill to the finish. I was lying 5th as we climbed the final hill and rounded the corner I was able to move up to 4th and sprint. I did not manage to make up any further positions and crossed the line in 4th with a slight gap over the rest of the field. Day one of racing complete and everyone safe!
Our host housing was amazing and just like last year they catered for our every needs, so after lots of refueling, resting, floating in the pool on giant swans and flamingo's, and even a little cool down trampolining, we were ready. Day two, and race number three was just a good night's sleep away.
Road Race time! 3 laps of a 18.4 mile hilly/rolling loop, with one longer steeper climb with QOM points up for grabs that was always going to be a big decider on the results. First lap took off and the Tarry Hall QOM climb came only 2 miles in. It wasn't a QOM on lap one so that ensured the first lap was not super aggressive. I actually was not feeling well having suffered some gastrointestinal issues the night and morning before. I was not sure how I would be but knew I needed to hang on the hill to keep in contention. Emily was riding strong and we both were up the front end of the peloton as we rode lap one. Even on the first lap, there was a natural split early and Andy and Evelyn found themselves in a second group. As we rode through Main Street Millersburg ready to take on lap three I still was not feeling well or confident and knew that it would certainly light up on Tarry Hall Rd. Again Emily was right there and we both pushed up the front end to tackle the hill. I was certainly hanging on this time around, but hang on I did and and as we got to the top there was a definite attack that involved the top two GC riders and a couple of other key riders too. Emily was very instrumental at picking up the chase, the race was certainly on! One of the breakaway riders ended up getting a flat and then caught onto our chase group so we knew that left 3 riders up the road. Our group got somewhat organized to rotate a pace line in an effort to bridge to the three leaders. Emily represented our team tremendously and took good pulls allowing me to conserve my energy a little. As we entered the third and final lap we had not closed the gap to the leaders and our chase group was still relatively large. I did not have any energy as I was still not able to eat much. I knew I had to hang one more time for the hill. As we started to climb I felt the pace increase and that put me under pressure but I saw emily just ahead of me. As we got to the top I realized too late the girl in front had let a gap appear and as I came around to close I found my effort was just not enough. Emily was safely in that group just ahead of me, I was in no mans land for a while then decided I will let the group of riders behind me catch on then we can work together. I was content with Emily's position as I knew she had a chance of a 4th place sprint. I was definitely struggling but was not giving in to my GC position without a fight. I worked with my group for the remainder of the last lap taking soft pulls so as to ensure we did not catch Emily's group. As we descended into town I was left with a group of four riders, I took my pull then looked to slot in to 3rd wheel. Once around the corner I moved into second wheel and ready to launch as we hit the final finish straight. I did not want to leave anything to chance so I jumped early and crossed the line first in my group and unsure of how many riders finished ahead.
It was a solid performance. Emily had secured 4th to move her up to 8th GC and initially I thought I'd slipped out of top three, only to find I hadn't and in fact I held the 3rd place GC by just 1 point! An exciting close finish to a weekend of strong racing.
International Omnium Results: