Stage 1. Fast, potholy, and legs that didn't open up all day. Back hurt as bad as ever. Still, finished with a Same-time. Almost killed Frankie when someone caught up my rear skewer, opened it, and nearly ripped my rear wheel out. I got up to sprint in the back stretch and almost ate crap. Rolled into the pits for my free lap to figure out what was going on. Skewer was bent.
Stage 2. The feared "Cannon Falls Road Race." Got caught up in an early crash, chased in the open and through the cars for 12 miles, chased some more, made it through the winds (not as bas as last year, but still not fun), bridged some key gaps in the circuits, and finished with another Same Time finish. Rode 50 miles with a huge piece of tread missing on my tubular. Just 290 tpi casing doing it's job.
Stage 3. Ya, ya, ya. I missed my TT start by 12:30 minutes. Rookie and brilliant. I put out a 10 flat anyway. Screwed in the GC from this point on.
Stage 4. Minneapolis Downtown Criterium. No rain? No rain! Wow. Fast, huge crowds, and sametime finish. Clean race by all who raced. I had to sprint hard on the finish to close a time gap up. A lot of good friends down to cheer me on. Dino from Hed took Frankie and I out to some swanky Italian dinner in St. Paul. As we sat there we realized we didn't look at USADA Doping Control. Oh well, I am eating at this point and that takes priority. Frankie already got tested in Cannon Falls. Photos by Kurt Jambretze at www.actionimages.cc Stage 5. The Makato Road Race. Barely any wind and fast, fast, fast. Midway in "Patty Cakes" from Grand Performance asks me if I want to go. I am thinking that it is too early and that everyone is going. I wait, he waits, he goes, a VMG rider goes, I bridge up, no one chases, Tim Johnson from Health Net comes across, and no one chases. We take off on a breakway for 20 miles into the circuits. I win one KOM, take 2nd on another KOM, and fourth in a Sprint. Plus, I finish top out of the break. We get caught in the circuits. Anyway, Tim get the "Most Aggressive" jersey. Hmmm? I thought I deserved it with the bridging across, time in break, KOM's, and Sprint. And if not me then Pat from GP. But, politics rains down from the promoters and the officials, and Health Net gets it. Tim was cool in the break but not the most aggressive.
We get great coverage from cyclingnews.com and VeloNews for the break. Thank Pat for taking the first step.
Stage 6. Blow up from the start. Can't get cleated in and have to pedal with my right leg up the Chilkook. Get to the top to find a wad of tar in my cleat. Forced to the back and to play the "gap game" to get back up. Blow up. Make the time cut and get pulled. Game over. Felt strong but out of position. Frankie hangs in for a bit more suffering.
Thanks to Dino at Hed for the hospitality and for putting up with us for a week. Thanks to Caribou Coffee for keeping me awake and alive. A big thanks to Kathy Pagels at Lifetime Fitness in Bloomington, MN for the absolute killer massage after the final race. You Twin Cities riders would do wise to go see her. Hands of a goddess and a great person.
And congrats to the Ohio crew in the Tour of Ohio. Even those these two clowns switched jerseys later they won it all. They took all the jerseys! However, everyone up at the NVGP were wondering where you all were. Great job guys. You dominated it. Mark, that Sprinter's jersey was too tight for you anyhow. Next up? rest, 40K TT, some WORS, and then to Nationals where my team WILL clean house. Ciao -Ian