This year marked the first time I would compete in the Tour of the Valley omnium as a part of the category 3 team. Brian knew a few of the guys from the Buffalo team, and assured us those would be the guys to watch out for. Stage 1 was the individual time trial, an event I felt very confident in going into the race. during our pre-ride I decided that due to the wind, I would switch from a 90MM front wheel to a 56MM wheel...a good decision. I rode the entire course at about 60% and felt very good. At the start, however, I rolled over a bump in the road about a half mile in and my seatpost popped! I hadn't checked to see if all the bolts were tight and one wasn't! the nose of my seatpost went straight down, so I was in a very uncomfortable position only a half-mile in. I spent the next 8 miles pulling up on the nose of the seatpost, while still attempting to put in a respectable time, knowing every second could count. I finished well down in the overall, disappointed, but knowing I had tried my best.
After the first stage, we were in second place in the overall, trailing The Bike Shop of Buffalo, just like Brian had predicted.
Stage 2 was the road race, where Billy, Brian and I all felt confident going in to possibly take back some time on the guys from NY. The new course was a lot less up and down than last year, which was a positive for me, since I was dropped on the second lap on the last climb. The race was actually very uneventful - everyone seemed to know it would end in a bunch sprint. Going into the finale, Brian, Billy and I talked and agreed that since Brian had a compact crank, they would lead me out to see how I would fare, but as is normal in racing, anything can happen...I was in the middle of the field with 1K to go, Billy was on the right of the group, and Brian was on the left side. Brian ended up very well-placed with Billy and I safely in the field. The only big news was that a Bike Shop rider was relegated to the end of the entire race due to a bad yellow-line infringement, which dropped their team to 3rd in the overall! We were leading Team Iron City of Pittsburgh now by 10 seconds heading into the stage 3 criterium!
Going into stage 3, I was a little apprehensive, knowing that they were the better team in criteriums on paper. We knew that we would have to give it our all to stay in contention, so we did a good warm up and lined up with all the others, eager to see how the final stage would shake out. The course had a steep little rise before the start-finish line, and we would do 30 laps. After a few laps, Billy could not hold the pace and was pulled from the race after 2 days of hard racing, covering numerous moves in the road race. That left Brian and I against 3 Iron City racers. 2 laps later, one of the Iron City racers was pulled and we were now 10 seconds behind in the overall, unbeknownst to us! Then the rain started and it was a MADHOUSE! first, there was a pile-up in the third corner...then there was a tour bus on the backside of the course...then there was a car on the backside of the course. with 2 to go, another of the rival team's riders skidded out in a corner, and I knew that if Brian and I simply finished, we had the overall wrapped up! The last 2 laps flew by with nobody making any substantial moves and we won! We were all ticked to death when we went up on the podium, and proudly wear our Team Yellow Jerseys!
Next up is the final round of the road series, the Appalachia Visited road race! With the amount of climbing, I have a feeling that we will have a few podium finishers, both in the race and the overall!
Thanks for reading,