Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Norwich Rose Pedal Criterium, September 21

The second year of this new race was even better than the first. This race has the potential to be one of the great criteriums in New England given it's downtown venue and great local support. The only problem might be its position on the calendar against the very popular Portsmouth New Hampshire crit. Here's what happened this year:

Junior 15-18
The Mystic Velo Club was the home team for the day and they were well represented in this first race. Their team of talented juniors has been coached by race promoter Bill Humphries and they even got some in person coaching from Greg LeMond earlier in the season. All but three racers in this field were in the orange and blue of the Mystic team so it’s no surprise that they cleaned up. Ben Wolfe who won the previous day’s road race won again to make it two for two. He broke away with Kirk Evans, also Mystic Velo, about one third of the way into the race. They took both primes and kept extending their lead. With 8 or so to go, it looked possible for them to lap the field. Bill Humphries and one of the proud parents put up $40 for the pair if they could lap the field. They kept eating up the gap and did it with about 2 laps to go. Nate Etchells broke from the field with about 4 to go and was the only rider who didn’t get lapped. He had to do one lap more than the rest of the field, but it was worth it for a solo run down the finishing hill in third. The two leaders gobbled up $30 in prime money, $40 for lapping the filed, and better than half the prize money. Not bad.

Cat 4/5 30 and under:
Jeff Hebert (Boston Road Club) took the first prime at 15 to go on the 1 km course and managed to stay away for the rest of the race. As is often the case in a 4/5 race, the pack got very strung out as the more experienced riders pushed a pace that the beginners couldn’t maintain. Jeff lapped many of the riders, but not the chase group of 5. Paul Talbott (Wesleyan) took the sprint for second. Chris Phenix (Bikeworks) took third.

Cat 3.
David Fierro (Exodus Cycling) got away from the field with 20 laps to go and Ben Wolfe (Mystic) caught up to him a few laps later. It was clear the kid is on a roll looking for his second win of the day and third of the weekend. They worked together and steadily increased their lead. A crash on the back side of the course caused 8 guys to go to the pit for a free lap. They become the new chase group when they were let go. Then Ben Wolfe had a mechanical problem, probably a flat tire, and had to take a free lap. Once he came back out and rejoined Fierro, they never got their rhythm back. It all came back together and then the pace slowed down with 2 to go. Exodus set up the lead out train of three riders with one lap to go with cagey veteran Paul Curley (Gearworks) slotted in smartly behind. At the finish, Ernie Tautkus (Exodus) took the sprint ahead of Paul Curley who had correctly read the writing on the wall when he saw all three Exodus guys go to the front for the final kilometer.

Cat 4
The Cat 4s rode together for the whole race with no breakaways. Jeff Hebert (winner of the earlier 4/5 race stayed at the front along with Noreast and Cox teams. The Hallamore team’s Phenix brothers also stayed near the front. The Colavita team seemed to keep a lower profile until the final lap when they set up the lead out train of three much like Exodus had done in the previous race. It worked even better than they could have hoped for as two of them earned a slight gap over the rest of the field to take first and second. Bryon Lewis was first then Jason Moriarty, followed closely by Micheal Harney (NBX)

Masters 55,45, and women combined field
Not enough women signed up to have a separate field, so they were invited to join into the Masters 45/55 race. Mark Dutka (Mystic) took an early flier and made a show of it for a few laps but got caught. Jim Marshall then went off the front but over cooked a tight corner on the top of the course and crashed on his right side. He took a free lap to bash his right brake hood back into place but he couldn’t find the rhythm again. He got caught and then faded to the back and off as his considerable scrapes got the better of him. Paul Curly went for a prime then stayed away until getting caught with just a couple laps to go. The finish came down to a field sprint which Keith Ford (New Hampshire Cycling Club) took for first with teammate Chris Naimee third after Paul Curley snuck through on the inside of the finishing sprint for second place.

Masters 35
Bill Yarbroudy (NBX/Narragansett Beer) has had a great season in 2008. Anyone who knows him wouldn’t be surprised by that, but he seems to have raised his game to another level. His crowning achievement this year may have been outsprinting 3 breakaway companions all from the same team at the Fall River Crit. He kept up his winning ways at Norwich. Yarbroudy, Micheal Cavros (Cyclonauts) and Jason Hurd (Arc en Ciel) took off early and stayed away for a couple of primes. They then lapped the field with 9 laps to go and the rest of the race became a group training ride. Yarbroudy took the field sprint for the win, George Bicking was second in the field sprint for fourth overall while Cavros took second place honors from the middle of the field sprint with Hurd in third.

Cat 5 30plus
Cat 5s can’t be given primes with any cash value under USCF rules, so I dug up a StartFinish Productions T shirt for the half way prime in this race. Dwane Melton (Mystic Velo) won the shirt and the rest of the race was just a matter of attrition. It was tough to tell if the lead group of three was a break away or just the few riders able to remain at the front of the field. I guess it’s one of those fine line things like love and hate. Melton along with Kyle Herlihy and John Badessa kept rolling along. Badessa had his number pinned on upside down. You gotta love the Cat 5s. Melton won followed by Badessa and Herlihy.

Pro 123
The final race of the day was a 65 lap event featuring many of the best bike racers in New England. Matt Jamieson (Exodus) and Tim Unkhert (Stolen Underground) got away after a few laps and worked on building a lead to last the rest of the race. Unkert seems to get into the winning break in almost every race so others would be wise to get on his wheel when he goes. The dynamic duo soon got some help from Massimiliano Acaputo CVC and eventual winner Jeff Buckless (Richmond Pro Cycling). Despite apparent ties to Richmond VA on his racing license, Jeff is from just down the road from Norwich originally and therefore counts as a home towner. In fact, all four riders in the break were Connecticut natives. They worked well together trading pulls and eventually lapped the field. With that done, they settled in while four riders escaped off the front looking for 5th through 8th places: Amos Brumble (CCB), Tim Mitchell (Flatbread-Otter Creak), and Ernie Tautkus (Exodus) and Alec Donahue (NERAC). The sprint was won by Buckless by half a bike length over Jamieson who has only been back to riding his bike for a couple of months after years out of the sport. This was only his second race of the season, the first being the previous day’s road race. Tim Unkert finished in third mixed in with the field, then Acaputo. Mitchell took the separate sprint amongst the chase group for 5th. The prize money ($2,000) went 20 deep so all finishers were in the money except for one. The unlucky lantern rouge was … oh, never mind, he shall remain anonymous.

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