May 17, 2005 — This past weekend was the Owasco Stage Race. Last year saw a decent field line up, however this year the race was twice as big and many fast riders were at the line. The results are still not up but the following is a summary of the pro 1/2 race.
The first stage was a 26K out and back TT. The conditions saw strong cross winds in both directions with going out being more uphill and into a headwind. Our main riders for the stage were Chris Isaac and Brandon Crichton, the rest of the team was to ride hard and see what happened. Peter Mazur ripped up the course and had a solid lead at the end of the day. Also the Colavita team all rode well. Chris and Brandon both rode respectable times and were in the top 25% of the field. I spent the first half of the TT picking out spots where the turn around would have been better placed (ie: shorter course) and managed to analyze Darko Ficko’s TT form as he passed me (my minute man) for a bit. Any minimal hopes I had of repeating my 2004 overall victory had moved from the minimal to the miracle category.
Later that day was the downtown crit. It was pretty much an oval with one real corner which the back-of-the-packers felt they could dive-bomb every lap and either crash or give Shimano some extra cash by way of wearing out their break pads. Our plan was to sit tight and have Nat. F cover any attacks and try to get Peter Sanowar to the line with myself and Richard. B as lead outs. Well it was decent plan until the rain. Our race was quite wet and with numerous manholes and sewer grates it was a tough go. The course was hard to get away on and nothing got more than five seconds the whole race. With two to go Richard and I got to the front and started to work however Pete was unable to get up. Then Chris Isaac came up and pulled but we got swamped pretty good with 3/4 lap to go and a top 20 roll through was all that was managed. The good news was none of the guys crashed and we were all looking forward to the next stage.
The road race was a 150K course with some pretty good climbs. Again this day we wanted to get one or two riders off the front hoping to get Chris or Brandon a free ride for part of the day. At 1K into the race myself and Brooke Boocock (Cyclelogic) got up the road. We got 20 seconds pretty fast and I was looking back hoping to have one or two riders trying to bridge but it was a no go. Brooke and I just decided to hammer it out and see what happened. We worked well together and got up around two minutes at one point. Once we had a good gap I figured if we could stay out to the third KOM (km 60) I would seal up that competition. I took the first KOM as we just rolled over the climbs. Between the first and second climb a wheel van or something told us that we had to stop racing and wait. I asked why and he said the pack took a wrong turn.
He was quite adamant that we stop and even pulled around us and drove about 15 km/hr, the fumes were a great pick me up. It was pretty crappy because we lost a decent bit of our gap as they never told us when to go again and after riding a bit at 15 km/hr I told Brooke to screw it and we took off again, only to look back and see the pack right there. We hit the second KOM and again I rolled over in first. The pack was maybe 40 seconds now, we decided to gas it one more time and opened up the gap to 1.30 only to get mowed down 15 kms later just at the base of the 3rd KOM. Once we hit this climb a counter went off with Dan M. they got a decent gap but once the pack hit the climb the pace went quite high and Dans’s group made it to about half way up.
At the half way point the group finally split and there were two main packs, there was a lot of stragglers off the back by this point as well. Chris, Brandon, Nat. F all made the first group with Chris fighting it out for KOM points. I was pretty sure the points did not go 60 deep so I just chilled in the back of the 2nd group. Over the top our group made it back to the main group only to see about 15 riders go up the road on a 1K grind after a downhill section. In this group Nat and Chris were working hard to establish a good gap. Well this group did manage to get about two min at one point but then Peter Mazur and Vassili Davidenko hit the front and were absolutely flying. The pack was pretty much in the gutter for around 40-45 minutes as they rode at 45-65 km/hr. and they brought the group back with about 25K or so left to race.
The next attack to stick was Darko and my team-mate Jason Maclaren. They stayed out and collected the next KOM (at 130 km). After that there were numerous attacks and counters in the last 20 km then finally two main groups were formed with a small break off the front. In the first group we had Dan. M, Brandon, Chris, Nat and in the second group was Peter.S, Richard B, and Jason M and myself.
In the end Dan bridged up to the break only to find that a Louis Garneau rider, who was sitting on the break had attacked and got up the road with 7 km to go. The remaining groups merged in the last 2 km and it was a total mess in the final kilometre with our pack passing the women’s 1/2 group. To say it was a sketchy finish would be an understatement. At the line I believe Vassili Davidenko took 2nd with Richard B. got 4th in the field sprint. Peter Mazur finished up in the front of the bunch and should have held on to his lead to take the overall.
All in all it was a great race and quite hard due to the quality of such teams as Colavita and riders like Peter Mazur, Vassili Davidenko, Dominque Perras and others. Our team again had a good race and we seem to be coming together as unit more as the weekends pass. The next race on the schedule is the Niagara-Hamilton Classic this long weekend run by the St. Catharines cycling club. It should be another good race. Again sorry for the vague report but that’s all for now.