by Stephan Hirsch
Belgium - home of delicious waffles, beers and the spring classics every cyclist looks forward to, while spending countless hours measured in sweat drops on the home trainer in the rainy, cold winter months. The last weekend of February released those guilty pleasures and an unbeatable Greg Van Avermaet was introduced to the crowds, who’s powerful sprint signalized the difference between yin and yang over the unbeatable Hulk in person of the current world champion Peter Sagan in the season opener Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Meanwhile 4000 miles west of Gent; the Bat City Cycling Classic (@batcity) and Pace Bend Road Race (@Boneshaker_Proj) opened up the start of the spring classics in the heart of Texas. After completing a solid training camp mostly spent on romantic, unforgiving gravel roads in Oklahoma, we (@TeamArapahoe) looked forward kicking off the season and getting in the first race miles.
Texas has more to offer than BBQ and Willy Nelson. Beautiful weather, idyllic windy roads and great promoters were only a few highlights of the 3 loops via 85, mostly flat miles in the so called office. Bringing a 9 men strong roster to Texas our strategy was, much like in a chess game, to control the race and play our cards in the heated final part of the game. Following moves, staying united on the small gravel sections was essential to protect our designated sprinter Jacob (@jacobW).
Losing bullets in a gun fight is never fun. And loosing three strong riders in the last two laps due to mechanical issues isn’t either. Improvisation was the keyword and every rider tossed in that little spark of more will and effort which set everyone else in check mate. Having Five experienced riders in the final last 3 miles (@andrewdahlheim, @juliuspadilla, @negropadilla88, @shcycling) enabled Jacob to launch a perfectly timed sprint and ensured the first win of the new season.
Day two of the racing weekend took place in Pace Bend Park northwest of Austin. Forteen perfectly paved roller coaster like loops over a total of 85 miles with some gentle hills stood on Sunday’s agenda. Using the momentum from the previous days victory and playing a slightly more aggressive hand was the mantra of the day, announced by the teams masterminds in form of Andrew (@andrewdahlheim) and Alejandro (@negropadilla88).
Be careful for what you wish for. The Chinese knew it better - and only two laps into the race a 17 men strong break away with four of our riders broke away from the field. More than happy with this scenario, the five remaining riders tagged attacks within the field and kept the speed at a moderate pace. Marked from several teams and chased back by the peloton, the race ultimately restarted itself by catching the last troopers of the break with only 2 Kilometers away from the finish line. A small crash in the final and a nearly perfect executed lead out resulted in an excellent 2nd place by Alejandro (@juliuspadilla) who was beat only by the days winner Colin Strickland (@colinatx) from Elbowz Racing (@elbowzracing).
A nearly perfect start of the season for us. What more is to say? A huge thank you! Thanks to all our sponsors (http://www.dnaracing.bike/sponsors/) who provide us top notch equipment and nutrition on and off the bike. To the staff who drove and walked the extra mile to ensure our fun, success and documented the craziness in beautiful pictures.
What’s next? We heard the fried chicken and sweet tea according to Phil Gaimon (@philgaimon) is excellent in Georgia. So make sure to say “Hi” and keep an eye on the current results at the Tour of Southern Highlands (@ToSHighlands).