23rd August 2010 by brtoone
(From the editor – Wes Douglas, Stuart Lamp, Paul Tower, and Brian Toone competed in the Cuba Meridian Challenge August 21-22. This is the great write-up of the race given by Wes.)
2010 Cuba-Meridian Road Race – Wes Douglas – Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto & Infinity-Med-I-Spa
Last year I attacked from the gun and ended up in a two-man break for just short of 60 miles. My break away partner popped halfway though and I just didn’t quite make it to the finish – Got caught 500m from the finish. I did not want this to happen again however, I did want to go early again but hopefully with a little more help and team representation in the break. As Stuart said, “whether or not Wes knows it yet, he’s still going to attack early”.
A mile or two in some attacks began and eventually I saw one forming that looked pretty good, at least as team representation went. It was a four-man break with Tim Carbonneau, John McLauchlin (Marx & Bensdorf), Andrew? (Herring Gas) and myself. We had a good gap from the field but it was small (about 30-40 sec) and for quite a while it wasn’t growing. I did my best to drive the break and motivate the other 3 guys to keep pushing it because I knew my teammates (Paul Tower, Brian Toone & Stuart Lamp) would do everything they could to block for us and hopefully so would the other two big teams (Herring Gas & Marx Bensdorf) with break representation. On the steepest kicker we almost dropped Andrew (Herring Gas) so I fell back a little to help get him back up to the break. My thought was it was too early to loose Herring’s rider because the break was only about a minute from the field and if they saw him coming back they might start attacking to shut the remaining three of us down. After this I suggested we all just keep a good tempo on the hills, bomb the down hills and hammer the flats. After getting Andrew back on the break he was only able to roll through and soon even that ended, leaving him to float on the back. About 18miles in John (Marx & Bensdorf), said he had to sit on which was really depressing for me to hear because essentially this left Tim and I to do most of the work. I really didn’t want all this effort to have been for nothing and I didn’t want a repeat of last year’s disaster. For a second I considered just sitting up and letting the field catch us but then I decided, to hell with it, and to give it everything to drive the break as long as I could…maybe…. just maybe we would make it.
Going into the second lap and the first time thought the feed zone I saw that Gavin Lansden (BBC) had been allowed to slip off the front of the field and he was bridging. I was really glad to see him coming because for a while now only Tim and I were working. John and Andrew would have worked if they could have but they were just done. Once Gavin linked up we were really able to pick up the pace but then Andrew finally had to call it quits. We now had about 5 min on the field and about 2-2:40min from a 4 man chase group. At first the chase wasn’t gaining on us but about on the backside of the second lap I finally had to take a break and sit on some and our average really dropped. Going into the last lap the chase was still 2:40 back but in the feed zone I had some issues with getting a bottle and had to come to almost a stop to get one. I think John turned off the course at this point. It was now down to Gavin, Tim and I. The 4 man chase was only about 40 sec back and it wasn’t long before we saw them coming. I started sitting on and trying to recover a little for the attacks I knew would come. We were caught just before the steepest kicker hill (which was something I was hoping we could avoid). The chase was made up of Pat Allison (Ion-United Health), Brian Toone (Tria Cycling), Woody Boudreaux (Herring Gas) and Travis Sherman (Moontoast guest riding for Bensdorf). Pat attacked halfway up the hill and I had my doubts about being able to respond or maintain contact, I had been feeling twinges in my quads and knew I was very close to completely locking up. Somehow I made it but we lost Travis.
I tried sit in all I could to recover a little before the stair step climb and the left hand turn. I thought I might have one more attack left in me before going into complete survival mode. So when the climb began I hit it and got a big gap. I knew I didn’t have the energy to carry the move all the way to the top and left turn so while I was up there I decided to make use of the moment and do something about twinges in my quads. I unclipped and started stretching them (which if I hadn’t done I don’t think I would have finished the race). This was when Brian attacked and came flying by me, completely clear of the other riders. This looked perfect to me so when Pat, Woody and Tim came by I just jumped on. We were now dropping Gavin. With Brian up the road and putting on some serious time I wasn’t obligated to do a thing, that was up to Pat and Woody to do. For the rest of the 3rd lap I sat in all I could sometimes pulling though, sometimes not. We did drop Gavin so here I was again in a break of 4 with my teammate up the road and out of sight.
I really just wanted this to all be over. Making the right turn off the course and on the home stretch our pace started to drop with anticipation of the sprint. It was painfully slow as Pat and Ryan watch each other to see who would make a move. There was no chance of the field catching us so we just came to a crawl and this allowed Gavin to catch back on. Being a non-sprinter and having been driving a break all day my odds a doing well in this situation did not look good at all. I gave it a shot but completely locked up and watched the Pat, Woody, Tim and Gavin cross the line before me. All in all, a much better result than last year. 6th place still beats getting swarmed by the field with 500m to go. Brian had placed 3rd in the crit the night before so his 1st in the road race gave him the Omnium. I had just held on in the crit and didn’t place but the 6th place result in the race gave me 10th in the Omnium, Paul had place 5th in the crit and with a 7th place finish in the road race he finished 4th in the Omnium, Stuart placed 10th in the road race & 11th for the Omnium. All in all a great race for Tria Cycling.
– Wes Douglas
(Check out Brian’s write-up with heartrate data here: http://toonecycling.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/2010-meridian-cuba-omnium-race-report/)