June 12, 2013 (Ottawa, ON) – I want to start off this report with a huge thank you to the Ride with Rendall group for organizing this amazing event for the second year in a row. I think we have some amazing people organizing events for us in Ontario and I don’t think they get the praise they deserve. Before I get to the meat of this report I felt these guys and gals needed to hear they did a job well done. Not only did they have everything running on time and all the volunteers hustling to set things up with the least amount of disruption to the locals, Glen and his crew do something a little better than most that put on these types of events, and that is making you feel welcome.
It isn’t over the top and there is no fake sales pitch or hard sell. It’s genuine and honest. It’s a big bright smile, a firm hand shake and they always thank us for making the trip. This is why I enjoy racing in Ottawa. I feel they appreciate the effort it takes to get there and travel to their race. They appreciate the effort and they appreciate your business. Maybe that is the difference? Maybe they understand that organizing events is a business. It is a labor of love and no doubt most events don’t make any money BUT It is a business folks and the racers are the customers.
Next weekend will be the same treatment for all of us making the trip back to Ottawa because the organizers of the Preston St. Criterium are cut from the same cloth. They go out of their way to make us feel appreciated and then we go out of our way to make their event an “A” priority. Simple stuff.
The Mississippi Mills Gran Prix is the last of seven Ontario Road Cup events for 2013 and the only stage race in the series. The winner is decided after all for events are completed and the total time for all four events is compiled. Stage racing is a bit different than what I’m used to. This is the second time I have done anything like this and the first time was last year at this event. This time I went solo. The RealDeal/Gears p/b Fieldgate team is filled with responsible, accountable and dependable people but this weekend just didn’t seem to work for the bulk of them. Injuries, illness and just being burnt out had me making the trip to Ottawa alone.
Problem is I needed a team to enter this bad boy. They were only registering teams of 4-8 riders and no individuals. I sent a few emails and found out there were a few teams that would be happy to have me join them. I decided to join Chris Firek and put on a Wheels of Bloor jersey. It was a weird experience lining up without RealDeal on my chest. I even had a few guys joke that I couldn’t hide just by changing my jersey. I was told I would need more camouflage than that.
Meanwhile I want to apologize in advance that this Veal Report is a little longer than most because as I’m covering four events.
Blakeney Circuit Race – Stage 1
The first stage on Friday was a 110km Blakeney Circuit Race. There was no hiding that fact that I was marked like never before. No matter what kit I was wearing, the other teams knew I was alone and they were ready to take advantage of it. I was aggressive as always and in pretty much every move to start. I made sure I started the race off right and won the first sprint for points. Problem was I thought this was for a time bonus only to ask around and find out it was for the sprinters jersey.
I was racing for GC so I stopped going for those right away. The other teams were aggressive too. The race began with attack after attack. The problem with being marked is everyone is chasing the moves I’m in. Not just the GC guys… everyone! They just don’t know what else to do. They have an idea of who the favorite is or who is a lock to get a result and they only have one move, stay with that guy no matter what.
I know this game well. There are few racers out there I have attached myself to over the years so this isn’t new. You put a ton into an attack and then if you get caught you’re vulnerable to the counter attack. This is when a teammate is everything in this sport. The “shake” to your “bake”. No team means no one to counter. That left me covering everything and it was only a matter of time before I couldn’t go again. It happened and a break got away. I was forced to chase and when I slowed and was attacked again.
This is racing and I knew going in it was going to be very hard to race this by myself. I stayed on the front with the help of Andrew House and pulled 40 guys around for the remainder of the race. They all didn’t understand that I was going to crush the TT the following day and none of them would be in contention again. The race is based on time and we all were losing a huge amount of time together. They worked together to keep me close but now had no interest in trying to win the race together.
I tried to explain the entire weekend was slipping away as seven guys rolled away chasing the original three up the road with only Andrew House and I on the front. Some teams must be pretty pissed with themselves as they were out of the race on Day One. The best time trialist and last year’s champ was up the road with two of the pre-race favourites and none thought it would be a good idea to pull through. I knew I was still in it so I kept the gap as best I could. We finished three minutes down which was pretty good considering it was only the two of us. The best part and most embarrassing for everyone involved was how seven guys blasted by me in the last 300 meters after I had pulled for an hour to get 11th place and all of us the exact same time. They sat on a wheel and lost the race only to sprint for 11th with no time bonus or anything. What were you thinking?
Clayton TT – Stage 2
The Clayton TT was incredible. I felt like I had a tailwind in both directions. I have the SHIV pretty much dialed in now and was ready to get back into the race. I didn’t think it was as perfect as the time trial I did there last year but found out right away when I finished I had gone 12 seconds faster. Over 18km I had averages 45.5km an hour. I was surprised as I had no aero helmet, no shoe covers and it was only my 3rd time on the bike. Now I had to wait to see what Fillion could pull off. He beat me last year by 16 seconds so I wasn’t convinced 12 seconds would be enough. He crossed the line and went under my time by 2.88 seconds. That hurts. There aren’t a lot of people who can say they beat Arron Fillion in a TT. It is a very exclusive list that one day I hope to be on but it will have to wait for now. The TT had me sitting 5th overall in the GC but I was still three mins back of Aaron. Last year’s champion only had 16 seconds on me at this point last year – now he has three minutes. I knew making up three minutes on a former national champ with a team that includes Casey Roth would be almost impossible but I started the next stage with a sliver of hope.
Almonte Crit – Stage 3
I knew this was my stage. Technical crit course with a punchy little grade through the start finish. My goal was to string things out and make a few guys quit in the first five laps. If you got popped early then I’ll take the credit for it. I went from the gun and hit things hard. There were a few tight corners that I wanted to lead into as everyone wasn’t comfortable yet taking them in the group. I was kind-a upset about how the first stage went so my goal was to take it out on the field where I’m at my best.
I didn’t think anyone would be getting much time during this one so I really wanted to make sure that a few started the road race the following day pretty spent or dropped completely. I attacked every chance I could and had some fun with this one. Once again when I was at my weakest two Stevens riders got away together and the entire field watched them ride away. There would have been a RealDeal rider on that one for sure. Mike Mandel or Colin Busby would have been all over this move covering the counter attack.
But they slipped away and the field looked to me and Osmond Bakker to keep things close. I pulled a little bit but I also made sure to launch every chance I could. I still wanted to the group to suffer a bit and I was keen to get across to those riders. On one launch through the start finish I rolled my rear tire and heard the shotgun blast of a popped tube under pressure going through the corner. I stayed up luckily and rolled to the pit. This is when the race got stupid. I was put in early right behind the leaders. We were 40 seconds down but in two laps the group slowed completely and when they finally rolled around the gap was 1:40.
We were almost lapped. What happened in those 2-3 laps? I was told afterwards that once I was out the group slowed to a stand still. They let two riders on the same team get two more minutes on GC. It was a crit. We should all be within 10-20 seconds of the break. We lost a full minute just because I rolled a tire? Now I was pissed. The last few laps I just stayed near the front. This stage did not go to plan. I was happy not to have crashed but once again I was blown away wondering why people bother suiting up to do a stage race in the first place.
Pakenham Road Race – Stage 4
Even with an ice bath before bed I woke up stiff and sore. I didn’t sleep to well and the three events had taken their toll. I told myself everyone was feeling the exact same way and got ready for the final stage. Today’s start felt a little bit like the T.V. show Survivor. I was down three minutes so now everyone wanted to make alliances with me. I was what they needed. Strong and able but almost out of contention.
I was game as I needed some friends out there on the course and needed to think about the best possible scenarios so I didn’t get voted off the island. I spoke with all of the contenders and all of them gave me a similar offer. If I helped them get the GC win they would give me the stage win in return. Not a bad deal but I really did want the GC title. I was only three minutes down. In a 170km road race, anything can happen.
The race began very fast and I made sure to be in a lot of the counter moves following wheels. A break did get established quite early with Matteo Del Cin getting up the road but the Ride with Rendall squad pulled it back to protect their lead. That is when I decided it was time to launch. I got away with seven other riders but only four wanted to work. We were away for quite some time but was destined to fail as Stevens P/B The Cyclery riders Derrick St John and Steven Keeping were with us and no Ride with Rendall rider was in contention. But it was pulled back.
When the groups got close again Osmond and J-S Perron from Stevens jumped and I went on Osmond’s wheel. He was with me in the last break as well and just did not want to be a part of the group. The three of us crushed a fast tail wind section and quickly got a solid gap. Three guys in the top 10 all on different teams but no GC leader. This was a great move for me. I put a ton of effort into this thinking we could get a crazy gap while everyone was trying to do the math.
We rolled like a well-oiled machine and crossed the line to start the second half of the race. That’s when J-S started having a problem with his wheel. It was out of true and rubbing the frame. He pulled over and switched wheels but came back to us with a 10-speed wheel that just wouldn’t work on his 11-speed stuff. He pulled over again and tried to get another wheel but couldn’t catch back on to us this time. He went back to the pack and Osmond and I tried our best to keep the pace high. We knew they were coming. They pack got closer and closer as the gap came down to around 30 seconds. Os and I worked harder and harder hoping they would just let up but we could not get out of sight. When I looked back I saw two riders making the jump across the gap. They were coming hard and I could see that it was St John and Andrew House. We did our thing and they were on our wheels in minutes.
Now there were four and these two had fresh legs. We got rolling again and got the gap back up to over a minute. Derrick and Andrew crushed things and Osmond and I sat on. It was pretty spent as it was now over 80km in “the break”. Derrick wanted me to work so bad but I was starting to know the end was near. He hit us all hard on one climb and it was everything I had to hold his wheel. On that move we lost House.
The three of us had half a lap to go and less than a minute on the field. St John needed a minute to win the GC over Arron Fillion. We all knew Fillion was back there pulling the entire group keeping the gap down to a minimum. That’s when Colm Cassidy from Octto showed up. He bridged across to in the last few kms and then tried to go right on through us and win it on his own. We fought to stay with him and we now had four again. The key was Osmond now had a team mate but we were both shattered with only 10km to go. Colm attacked us a few times and we all did our best to hold his wheel.
The pace always stayed high because Derrick was trying to get his 1-minute gap. I on the other hand I was just trying to get home. Colm wouldn’t have none of it. He kept trying to get away and in the process would work over Osmond and I. I told him to focus on Derrick but he really thought I was sitting in for the sprint. My legs had been cramping for 30 mins now… I tried to be as real and as honest with him as I could. He let Derrick’s wheel go with 1 km left and Os and I screamed at him in unison. We are #$@!’d don’t let him go!!! He then ripped away trying to chase down Derrick and then lost it in the sprint. Big mistake from the boy for Ireland, I felt for him.
I did an ugly job of coming in 3rd with Osmond tight on my wheel.
Derrick was on another level today. He and his team really deserved the stage and the GC. It was something awesome to be a part of and he will be someone to look for at the National road race in two weeks. Getting third is tough but I really had nothing more to give. I crossed the line in full lock down not able to move my legs at all. I rode through the cramps and pretty much tore everything as my muscles fought each other with every pedal stroke. I fell over and lay in the grass afterwards in total pain and confusion as my girlfriend Jessica brought me water and then even drove the car right up to me.
This was a loss but it still kinda felt like a success. My body broke down before my mind did. I don’t think that feeling will ever get old, I hope I get to push the limits like this for as long as I can.
Once again I’m sorry this one was so stinking long. I hope you enjoyed it regardless. Thanks for reading
Ed Veal’s efforts won him the overall in Elite Men’s O-Cup Road standings for the third time.-ed.