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Glen mitchell - Tour de nEz and Nevada City
Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada had seven riders at this year’s Tour de Nez – myself, Jackson, Ben, Tim, Russell and new guys Dan Schmatz and Pete Lopinto. The time trial was a pretty simple course, no major corners or hills, just flat out as hard as you can go....oh yeah...we did it at 5000'! That might not seem like a big deal, but when you have lived 99.99% of your life under 2000' the oxygen difference becomes very obvious, especially when your body is going all out, as mine did for all four days we were racing.
Tour de Nez stage two - 1hr criterium
5pm start after the TT stage in the morning. This time we went up the mountain further, to 6000'. In the team we have two guys (Pete & Dan) from Boulder so we were playing our strategy around them, as they both have a good finishing sprint and are used to doing hard efforts at altitude. The race was aggressive from the start and riders were coming off the back literally after the first few laps.
Scott Moninger was the man of the night as he went out on a solo quest and eventually lapped the field to take the win. Behind him a 6 man chase group was established and contained Dan, back in the bunch there was not much else any of us could do except ride it out to the finish and send good vibes Dan’s way for the finishing sprint. 4th...close but not close enough.
Tour de Nez stage three - 108 mile road race
Today was going to be hard, even with 7 riders in the team. Courses like this really suit certain types of riders: you have to be a good climber, good at long distance races and you have to be able to handle going to the maximum at 6000'. Our plan was to go into the race swinging with both arms (just a phrase) because if it came down to a shootout between the altitude climbers and us, we were probably going to be on the receiving end. 8 miles into the race, I was in a 4 man move which also contained my teammate Tim Larkin along with Jason Bausch (Seasilver) and Aaron Olson (Colavita-Sutter Home).
We drilled it hard and soon had a 1min gap. We were all working and the time kept creeping up until it hit about 3min. Then the 3 mile hill came and for me it was too much. I had gone too far into the red working in the break and I couldn't hang with the pace that the other 3 were now riding. I slipped back to a chase group where I rode another 30 miles and once again the hill was too much for me and I was no out of the race altogether. The field split apart and in the end less than a 1/4 of the starters finished.
Tim and the break kept going as hard as they could but eventually got caught at the worst possible place: the bottom of the climb. Once again Moninger showed his class at these particular events and won solo again.
Tour de Nez stage four - 90 minute criterium
Same strategy as the previous crit: try and use our numbers to our advantage and look for Pete or Dan for the finishing sprint. As usual, it was full speed from the gun, lots of attacking but nothing was really sticking. 30 minutes in, Alex Candelario (Jelly Belly-PoolGel) went solo and found no opposition from the field. A few minutes later he was joined by Erik Saunders (McGuire-Langdale) and the two started working well together.
Pete launched a solo move of his own after them but hit one of the corners too hard and came down. A lap later, the officials put him back in where he was, which was just off the front of the field, and two others joined him and another lap later I went across to make a chase group of four.
We had a gap on the field but were 40 seconds behind the two leaders. I went straight into work mode and did the majority of the work so Pete could save his legs for the finishing sprint. We were slowly bringing the two leaders back but the laps ran out for us, we had them in sight but they were just out of reach. The tactics started with two laps to go for us and ended with Pete taking 4th and myself 6th. Damn, still no podium.
Nevada City Classic
One of the longest running races in America and a real lung buster. About a 1 mile course with one side going straight up and the finishing straight coming straight back down. Not a lot of tactics for this kind of course, you either have it or you don’t.
The race broke up soon after the start which is normal for this race. A 15 man group which contained Ben, Tim and myself was established and the winner was going to come from there. As the laps and attacks went by, so did my legs and I soon found myself, as so many do, falling off the back of the group going up the climb.
The 15 soon split apart into smaller groups and soon there was just Burke Swindlehurst (Seasilver) on his own, and he went on to win the race solo. Ben was in the next group of 5 but struck bad luck with an asthma attack which took him out of the running for a podium spot. He raced on for 7th.