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Bird Report – Horseshoe Valley Road Race

by Bruce Bird

August 13, 2012 (Horseshoe Valley, ON) – On Saturday August 11th the Wheels of Bloor team hosted the Horseshoe Valley Road Race. Rider turnout was less than expected with 250 riders registering by the deadline of midnight on Thursday, August 9th. The low turnout may have been influenced by the weather forecasting rain and possibly thunderstorms during the event.

With the cooperation of the chief Commissaire, OCA, OPP and EMS the schedule was adjusted reducing the event to a single heat of five groups on the road. With just one heat of riders the losses associated with low registration were limited by reducing the number of hours of support required by the OPP, EMS and Bus Service.

Despite a heavy rainfall earlier in the morning, the rain held off during registration and the roads were dry as the event began on time at 2pm. The Elite 1-2 men were combined with the Masters 1 field (E12M1) making the group a respectable size of 70 riders. They were the first group on the road and remained closely compact through the 5km neutral start up Horseshoe valley Road and down 4th line. My vantage point for the race was not from within the pack but from the wheel support vehicle following the first group. The roads were almost entirely clear of traffic and the OPP did a great job controlling all of the intersections.

Yuri Hrucaj (Octto-Cervelo) was active right from the start, jetting off the front as soon as racing began, however he was effectively neutralized following an accidental wrong turn onto 6th line by the entire field that was quickly corrected. A few more attacks proceeded but no one was able to break free until a couple of riders launched an attack mid-way through the first of 6 laps (21km per lap).

The peloton allowed the two riders their freedom and the pace remained slow. The second group on the road was the Elite 3 Master 2 (E3M2) who had not made a wrong turn and had not allowed a break to form. The pace of the E3M2 field was quicker than the E12M1 field and I could see them moving to within 15 seconds of the rear of my support vehicle. They were charging hard using the group in front of them as a carrot and there was no way to stop the two groups from joining at this point. The E3M2 group neutralized the E12M1 as they rode past.

The combined groups created a dilemma for the officials as there were still two lead E12M1 riders up the road. Although the M2E3 field had caught and passed the E12M1 field they were unable to create any separation between the two groups and riders became intermingled into one large group on the road.

The large group continued riding together for about ten minutes before the E12M1 Commissaire vehicle equipped with a loud speaker rode up beside the intermingled group on 7th line and directed the groups to separate with the E3M2 riders dropping back. The E3M2 Commissaire then held back the E3M2 riders allowing a gap to be established on the road.

The E12M1 pack picked up the pace and caught the two lead riders who were in the break. Jordan Cheyne (H&R Block), one of the best time trialist in Canada, was able to break free in a solo move establishing a 30 second lead on the peloton. Cheyne stayed out on his own for about 40 kilometers (2 laps) increasing his advantage to just under a minute and then back down to 30 seconds. Several other riders tried to bridge the gap to Cheyne on theor own but faltered and were swallowed up by the peloton. With 2.5 laps remaining a group of seven riders (Rob D’Amico-Wheels of Bloor; Brian Kelly-Nacsworld; Chris Gruber-Champion Systems; Don Zuck-TDI Z-Team; Carlos Gonclaves-Team London; Brian Trafford-Occto Cevelo & One other rider) consolidated into a chase group heading south on 7th line.

After about five kilometers of chasing Cheyne relented and allowed the 7 riders to join him while riding west on 15th-16th side road. The pace of the 8 man break was too high for Goncalves, Kelly and a 3rd rider who dropped back while riding north on 4th line, leaving 5 riders (Trafford, Cheyne, Gruber, Zuck & D’Amico). The 5 man group worked fairly well together and established a lead of 1:40 on the peloton.

With 1.25 laps remaining Cheyne hit the other riders in the break hard with a move on 7th line which dislodged Trafford from the break leaving 4 riders who had a lead of 1:30 on the peloton with 25kms to.

Back in the peloton a select chase group of about 15 riders driven by the Real Deal team, Octto Cervelo & Anton Varebei (Jet Fuel) separated themselves from the peloton and reduced the gap to under a minute with 15km’s to go. The high powered chase group closed to within 30 second by the time they crested the climb heading north on 4th line with just over 5kms to go. The pace of the chase group destroyed any further cooperation and the 15 men splintered into 3 groups strung out along the road while the lead 4 riders continue to work together. Further back the peloton admitted defeat and settled into tempo riding two minutes behind the leaders.

The three splintered chase groups did not make any further gains on the lead 4 riders in the final 5 kms. Rob D’Amico sprinted to victory ahead of Chris Gruber and Don Zuck in third place with a physically spent Cheyne rounding out the group of four. Cheyne was the most aggressive rider of the day.

Anton Varebei was the next rider to cross the line in 5th place 28 seconds back followed by Ed Veal. Veal was awarded the Ontario Cup trophy after the race for having won the most points in the 2012 eight race series that concluded with the Horseshoe Valley Road Race. The rain that had held off through most of the race started up just after the main group crossed the finish line.

Both D’Amico and Gruber took home a brand new Cervelo R5 frame (valued at $5,000) courtesy of Cervelo, as they were the top riders in Master 1 and Elite 1,2 fields respectively. Matthias Schmidt (Wheels of Bloor) was the third placed M1 rider consolidating his OCUP points 2012 season victory.

For complete results click HERE.

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