Friday, March 27, 2015

Race Report: Tour de Husker

First race of the season. Always a nervous occasion. The build up is filled with, "He's been riding really good", "they've been putting in tons of miles", but just like the Omloop, it's too early to make a serious call on who's good and who's not. The important races are 6 weeks away. Rarely is the winner of the Omloop a factor in the monuments of Flanders and Roubaix. It's the guys lingering in the top 10 that you have to worry about. The guys that are on their way up, not the guys that have plateaued.

The Tour de Husker is no exception. Let's face it, a mid-March race is far from the heat of the late April, May and June battle ground. The TdH however does offer a great opportunity to work on riding as a team.

It's been an exciting "off" season. Not only because of my usual cyclocross campaign, but also because of all the hard work and dedication we put into creating our new road team, Harvest Racing p/b Midwest Cycling-Trek Stores. We've been lucky enough to put a program together with some of the best guys around on the best equipment around. Trek bikes, SRAM components, Bontrager wheels and Capo Custom apparel. I love rolling to line knowing that I have the fastest, lightest bike in the race and clothing that will keep me warm/cool and comfortable in the most unforgiving conditions.

The TdH road race at Branched Oak Lake is rarely interesting. Having raced there for almost three decades, it's a metronomic affair. An early break goes away, but because of the usual windy conditions it rarely sticks. Greg Hagele (Team Kaos) was the first to make a move after the first 11 mile lap. We were more than happy to let him roll away solo, his hope of survival was nil. Like clockwork, one lap later, Chris Spence (Team Kaos), Jonathan Wait (Flatwater) and our own Brady Murphy (Harvest Racing) launched an attack and were quickly joined by Jon Nelson (SC Velo). Our goal was to put Brady on the podium, mission accomplished. The remainder of the race was smooth sailing for us. Brady put up the good fight, battling with the on form Wait and Spence and eventually rolled over the line in 3rd place.

Brady Murphy (Harvest Racing), Jonathan Wait (Flatwater), Chris Spence (Team Kaos)
The follow days circuit race at Pioneers Park was sure to be a more explosive affair. With three previous winners of Pioneers Park circuit (Jordan Ross, Lucas Marshall and myself) we were sure to have the upper hand. Early on we put Brady and Greg Shimonek on the front to keep things tight. Paul Webb launched our first attack of the day and was quickly followed by Chris Spence and Ryan Legg (Flatwater). Rarely does the first move stick, today was the the exception. The three quickly gained a 45 second advantage before counterattacks by Harvest Racing teammate Jordan Ross and myself brought the gap back down to 10 seconds. As the gap shrank, Matt Tillinghast (Harvest Racing) was able to jump the gap and join the group. With a numbers advantage in the break we began thinking more about the bunch sprint and hoping Matt and Paul had things under control up the road. Matt rode a perfect leadout for Paul launching him to the teams first victory, and finishing third himself. Spence rounded out the podium in second and Ryan Legg fourth. Behind the bunch sprint on the final climb was a hectic affair. The threesome of myself, Jordan and Lucas Marshall went head to head with Team Kaos' super sprinter Lee Bumgarner. An abrupt move by Flatwaters Jeremiah Grell almost crashed me and created enough chaos and hesitation to give Bumgarner the sprint for 5th, followed by Jordan, Lucas, myself and John Rokke (Team Koas) in short order. All in all it was super fun racing. Make that four Pioneers Park winners for Harvest Racing now.

Next up is the hilly circuit of the Twin Bing Classic in Climbing Hill, IA.

Playing the good teammate, sitting on wheels
Photo: John Peterson/Nebraska Cycling News
Matt leading break
Photo: John Peterson/Nebraska Cycling News
Post up! Paul Webb taking the win
Photo: John Peterson/Nebraska Cycling News
Matt Tillinghast (Harvest Racing), Paul Webb (Harvest Racing), Chris Spence (Team Kaos)
Photo: Lucas Marshall

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