May 5, 2005 – Ital-pasta/Transport Belmire sent a team of four down to the race. The team consisted of Daniel Maggiacomo, Brandon Crichton, Chris Isaac and myself. The first day was a two-stager with a steep uphill TT followed by a fast 55K crit later in the day. The plan for the TT was to not kill yourself on the false flat as the last 1.8K averages about 14% grade so a lot of time can easily be lost. Chris, Brandon and Dan all rode in the top 25 riders and I dragged my butt up there midpack.
The crit had three corners with two main drags. A fast, small group got about 10 seconds on the pack and held it for the finish. We all decided not to be tough guys in this race and just made sure we stayed in the pack, which we all did. After Day 1 Chris and Brandon were sitting in the top 15 and were looking really good for the overall.
The first road stage (120K) was quite hard there was one major climb at 80K. A group of five got away at about 20K into the race. Dan M. was in there and the move looked good to get away for good but they hovered from 20-45 secs for a good hour. The pack keep attacking to try to bridge to them but every time the riders would blow and simply tow the pack close, then we would let off and the gap would open and the cycle would repeat. It was very strange and quite annoying to cover. Finally the break decided the 20 sec gap was not worth it and everything came back together for the climb. The pace was fast from the bottom and in the end there were two main groups over the top. Brandon and Chris made the first split and Dan and I were in the 2nd group (about 50 secs back).
The second group started to fly over the descent and ended up catching the lead group with about 5K to go. The pace remained high until the finish where Chris made his move (for 3rd place) with 200 meters to go, however the metric system is not entirely integrated down there and the 200m sign was more like 100m and with a corner it was hard to see the actual finish, thus Chris had to settle for 6th. Brandon and I finished in the main group while Dan.M began his bad luck week with a flat at 6K to go.
That night we stayed at the Homestead Resort and simply put, “it was amazing”. It was built in 1766 and we had a great supper and breakfast there next day at the ski resort.
The next morning we awoke to 5 degree C and rain. This was the big stage as it was 166K with around 8,000 feet of climbing in it. Our plan was to let the early move go and just take care of Chris and Brandon, if they needed help. Well it turned out only Dan needed help as he broke his chain and then had to ride the toe clip LeMond bike for 100K. He lost contact with our group on one of the climbs and we saw him at the finish. He did hammer it out to make the time cut.
Early into the race a group of 7-8 riders got up the road and with the poor weather amassed a 7-minute lead. The pace started to pick up in the pack at around 100K and the last big climb was at 130K and was about 16K long. Again we hit the bottom and it was pure fireworks as the pace went insane and guys were getting blown away everywhere. I finally got through the carnage and got onto the back of the lead group. I looked up to see who was doing the damage and I shook my head as Brandon C. was on the front just drilling it with Chris about 5th wheel. I held on for about 10K then decided that Brandon and Chris did not need my help, and I shut it down to save it for the next day. Over the top only three guys were still left from the break.
On the descent Chris decided to show off his circa 2001 Jan Ulrich descending skills and hit a corner way too hot and had make the slide for home. He did quickly remount along with the other two lucky chaps who also decided they had their formula one wet tires on and chased hard to come in close to the Brandon’s group. In the finish Brandon ended up 8th.
At the end of the day we still had Brandon in 8th and Chris in 13th. However that turned out to be the end of our race. To keep a long story short our team and one other team were scheduled to be picked up at 9:30am the next day but the driver forgot us and by the time we got in contact with him (via the organizer) he was over half way to the race. The organizer tried to get alternative transport but by the time we got it worked out it was too late. We tried to get someone to come down with us and drive support (as our manager was not in country yet) but it was a tough sell with short notice. The organizer was extremely sorry and gave us a full refund and offered us to be his guest at next year’s race. As we were mainly doing this event as training we decided to make the best of it, pack up the car and booked it home to make it to Springbank. My legs are still regretting that call :).
Overall the race was awesome and the courses were extremely safe and the climbing there is just plain hard. The Tour of Shenandoah is a great event and we had some bad luck and hopefully next year we can have a better run at it.