Giro d' Rankin Race Report
“Jason, you are missing your start time” aren't the words you want to hear to begin the three race Giro d' Rankin omnium. I had been waiting for the start of the Cat 4 time trial for several minutes in the warm sun and counting riders in front of me figured I had enough time to take a quick spin on the side road. I made it to the start in time to stop and hear the starter count 3-2-1. The 4 mile time trial was flat for the first mile or so before it started a gradual slope uphill. The final mile was much steeper. I had a typical result in a time trial finishing just outside the points in eleventh place. Brooks Abel was finally back riding after finishing another semester of college and placed a little further back. Matt Davis with Team LaS'port continued his winning ways placing first in the time trial.
The 61 mile road race started at 1:45PM in the afternoon heat. The race was three laps over a 20 mile course with rolling hills. Randy Legeai with NOBC who rode up with me from New Orleans was kind enough to point out that any effort I expended on the time trial was wasted since I received no points.
The road race started out pretty typical with a few riders occasionally going off the front. About half way through the first lap Jarret Kinder with Memphis Velo went hard off the front on a hill and Matt Davis bridged up to him shortly after. I was back in the middle of the pack and thought it was early to try to go off the front with 50 miles left in the race. I talked to Cameron Giesbrecht of ProBike and we think this may work out. If Matt stays off the front all race maybe he will tire and the pack working together can catch him and still be somewhat fresh. Scott Gurganus also with Team LaS'port is staying near the front either keeping the pace easy or staying on the wheel of anyone trying to drive the pack. We catch Jarret after about five miles but Matt is gone.
During the second lap, Stan Prutz with Tiger Cycling moves up to the front and he and I are working to keep the pace up. I know Matt is very strong and even in this heat, we won't catch him unless we keep the pace high. Stan and I take pulls at the front with Scott Gurganus on our wheel. No one else ever comes around Scott. ProBike has the most riders in the field so I ask Cameron to get his team to help up front. Cameron and one other ProBike rider take turns at the front but no other riders come up other than me and Stan. Occasionally a Raising Cane's rider shoots off the front. They get pulled in pretty quickly. It would seem to make more sense if they tried to help us all catch Matt and try attacking after that.
There is a longer climb half way through each lap. On lap two, I kept the pace quick up the hill. Scott and two other riders were with me and we got gap on the field. Scott said he couldn't work with me so early with Matt off the front and the other two riders didn't have the legs to work after hanging on up the hill. After the group catches us, I know I need to get away from them to have any chance of winning.
At around mile 35, Jarret attacks again. I am near the front and quickly bridge up to him and we start working. I am surprised no one else jumped up with us. The winding roads of the course put the pack out of sight in no time. We pass through the main field of the Master's race and continue working. Jarret says what we are both thinking – " how long can we keep this up in the heat? " We agree to just keep pushing on and see what happens.
About a third of the way through the final lap, I can see two riders trying to bridge up to us in the distance. I think one of the riders is Cameron but I am not sure. I figure if they catch us then all four of us can work together but I don't want to slow down to wait for them . Jarret falls off the pace at the start of one of the hills and tells me to go on alone. I tell him we are both better off staying together and he stays on my wheel. It seems like the two riders trying bridge are loosing steam.
We continue trading pulls but now I am starting to cramp in my quads. This makes riding up the hills much more difficult. Luckily, my cramps pass after a mile. I figure Jarret is cramping too. One other time I had to slow to let him catch back on my wheel. I tell Jarret that I would like to finish together since we worked so well but would also like to place at least second. He is fine with that but doesn't want the pack to pass because I am waiting on him. I cross the line with Jarret right on my wheel. I don't know the exact time but it seems like a minute or more before riders start coming up the final hill to the finish line. Matt Davis finishes off the front of the race after doing a solo ride for about 50 miles. The guy is a machine!
The Criterium course is fast and smooth for the Sunday race. My legs are tired from the road race but not as bad as I would have thought. Everyone that completed the race is likely feeling the same or worse. The race starts and the pace is fairly quick in the mid to upper twenties. The group stays together most of the race. It is pretty uneventful. There were your typical spurts but no one ever got any kind of gap on the field. A ProBike rider did a long steady pull at the front before the lap count down that kept attacks down. You still have to work to hold your spot in the group. You can easily drop several places each lap. There are a few riders who still are all over the road. I drift back away from them then sprint back up to the front of the pack when I get too far from the leaders.
On the last lap of the race, I am third wheel behind Scott Gurganus and a ProBike rider. I managed to skip a pedal on the second to last corner. It is funny because I have never done that before and Randy had warned me about that corner after his race. It was a very light brushing so it didn't even change my line. On the last corner before the long straight into the finish, Scott goes in too hot and ends up wide in some loose gravel. He is able to recover but I hear a crash somewhere behind me. I never really found out what happened but I think maybe three riders went down. I jump behind the ProBike rider who is starting the sprint. Matt Davis and Bart Manning with Bay City Breakers go flying by me on the left with another rider and I move over to try to catch their wheels. I am able to jump with them but am not able to close enough distance to get in front of those three. I finish a comfortable fourth place. Matt picks up another win and Bart finishes third.
Fortunately for me, the omnium points are highly weighted for the road race and criterium. I am tied for second place overall with Clint Austin. We both have a 2 nd place finish and a 4 th place finish. I win the tie breaker since I placed higher in the time trial. I guess it was a good thing I didn't miss my start. Apparently that effort in the time trial wasn't wasted after all.