This past weekend team Hot Tubes and I traveled to western Kentucky for the UCI 2.1 stage race, The Tour of the Red River George. This year was the inaugural event; however there was a road race which took place there last year as the junior worlds qualifiers.
After along but enjoyable car drive from Mass to Lexington, KY we were ready to race. The opening stage was a 1 mile prologue on an out and back course in downtown Irvine, KY. Such a short event is not my forte, I finished 21st six seconds behind the stage winner Charlie Avis. Our however did good, putting three riders in the top ten. The afternoon of the prologue was the first true test with a 100km road race. The heat and humidity only added to the hard and hilly stage. After 30km had elapsed the racing started to pick up. I soon found myself off the front with a few other riders, and it wasn’t long before both Nathan and Anders were by my side. With three Hot Tubes riders out of the ten or so in the group we began to drive hard towards the finish. We worked hard and opened the gap to 1minute and 30 seconds before I almost lost it all. On a fast down hill road I miss lead the group off course. The riders at the back were able to turn around quickly and keep it; however some riders kept on riding in the wrong direction. I then made the turnaround and began to chase the group I was just leading. Thankfully I had two honorable teammates up front who waited for my return. Some riders never returned, thus our group was down to six, and going over the final KOM (king of the mountains) the group was minimized yet again. After the final climb with only 5km remaining Anders made a very tactically smart attack and quickly opened a big gap on our lead group. Soon after Nathan jumped and rode up to Anders, so I was the lone hot tubes rider with two of my teammates off the front. With 1.5km till the finish I knew that Anders and Nathan would stay away, so I then tried an attack of my own. I finally got a gap in the final 800 meters of the race and hot tubes went 1, 2, 3 on the stage and took 1, 2, 3 on overall classification.
The following day was the individual time trial, it went pretty straight forward. My teammate Lawson won, Nathan second, Gavin fourth, myself eighth, Anders ninth, and our Canadian teammate Stuee sixteenth. This moved our team into 1,2,3,4 on overall classification going into the queen stage.
Stage 4 was a long 120km road race with over 8,000 ft of climbing, a hard race that would separate the players from the pretenders. The first few climb were uneventful other than Lawson getting a flat, then Nathan having to stop and dislodge his jammed chain, but both Stuee and Gavin where there to help them back to the pack. Once the rejoined Gavin ran into a front flat so dropped back to get it fixed, but just as Gavin reintegrated into the pack a crash took him and a good percentage of other riders off the road. He just cruised in after that. Each time the road when up, riders went back, and going into the final 30km of the race the lead pack including four of us hot tubes riders was under twenty riders in total. The final two climbs where were the players came to play, Nathan in his yellow jersey went to the front of the pack and turned the screws. Riders quickly fell of his pace and by the time we summated the final climb the group was down to seven riders, but four of those hot tubes. Once on top the hill the course consisted of short but steep rollers. We weren’t on top for long before the attacks started. Most of them came from our team and after some hard efforts; Lawson and Jacob Rathe from Portland Oregon were off the front and free to fly. After some cat and mouse play, I jumped the group in pursuit of the leaders. When I was ¾ the way across and starting to fade, Nathan came up to me to give me some help. Together we caught the leaders and had 3 out of the 4 riders in the lead group. With 10km remaining we began to drive towards the finish. Theoretically we should have had an easy stage win, but Jacob is a very smart and very strong. I jumped the group with 500 meters to go but Jacob caught up with Nathan on his wheel. Nathan has a great sprint but the downhill sprint was too fast for Nathan to overcome on junior gears. Jacob took a very big stage win and moved into 5th overall. Nathan finished 2nd me 3rd and Lawson 4th.
The final stage of the Tour of the Red River George was a twilight crit in downtown Lexington. The goal was to stay safe and hold our GC placing. Both were accomplish and then added on by Gavin’s stage win. It was a great race for us as a team we won the overall plus 2-4, and the best young riders and the sprint jersey, but to show how well we rode as a team we won the team classification by over 16 minutes.
Because of how well we and I rode, I earned a spot on the world championship team. So next week I will fly back over to Belgium and then on to Moscow for the Junior world championships, which was my year long goal.
Thanks for reading and more posts soon.