After four days at our 27 story hotel in Moscow Russia the individual time trial had come. The US had two competitors, Nathan Brown and Lawson Craddock, both men have podium at the international level this year, so we had high expectations for them. Lawson was the first to start the 13.5 km course in which they would complete two laps. Lawson posted the second fastest time check at the end of the first lap. After we did the calculations we knew it was going to be close, Lawson could go fast but just how fast we didn’t know. As he crossed the finish line we held our breath and stared at the big screen which displayed the finishing times. Lawson made up some time but came up just 2.22 seconds short of holding the number one spot in the finish house. Nathan started next and from the beginning was not on a good day, but time check one he lost 45 seconds to Lawson. Nathan finished 34th which is still not bad considering it was the world championships. Lawson rode and amazing race like he always does on the time trial bike and his second place time held up and he took silver. Lawson being seventeen has the sweet taste of success from this year but the drive to make up that 2.22 seconds for next year and take home the rainbow jersey.
The race was the next race on the schedule and a hard demanding course it was. Used as the Olympic road course in 1980 and again for the road world championships in 1989 when Lance Armstrong was a junior. Moscow is a relatively flat city so when I saw the course profile on line for the first time I thought that it must be wrong. However, during the excavation for the rowing events for the 80’ Olympics the dirt was piled up in one area creating a hill worthy of making into a road race course. The 13.5 km circuit consisted of five hard climbs each between 14-20%, they were short climbs but with a total of ten laps that’s 50 climbs. We had a plan for the race and were ready to race. All the bikes were clean and legs were oiled, and the race was about to begin. From the gun the race was on, as expected, and in classic USA form we started near the back. We all spent the first half lap moving up in the 165 rider field, consisting of 40 different countries.
The first few laps passed and I tried my best to do my job with was to patrol the front and make sure that no group with five or more riders got too far off the front. Then on lap six a large group of 8-13 riders escaped but Nathan was on top of it and represented us in the lead group. For the next two and half laps the pressure was off us at Nathans groups gap got up to 50 seconds. Then with a little over a lap to go Nathans group was caught and the race was all back together. Now the pressure was on Jacobs back to represent us in the final lap of the race. After Nathan came back I went straight to the front to make sure nothing else got away. Once I got there three riders had already got a gap, so I went to the front and drove the pack with all the energy I had left. I continued hammering up the first climb, but by half way I began to fade, and once I started to go back I went back and fast. By the top of the climb I had fallen of the back, but I had given what I had in hope that Jacob could finish it off. The three man group was soon caught but another larger group of 11 riders go away and we had no one. Jacob made a valiant effort to bridge across but was just out manned; it was too much to ask from one rider. The group of 11 stayed away and Jacob sprinted from the chasing pack and finished 17th. It was by far the most pain I and everyone else had ever endured while racing a bike. Afterwards we were all crushed.
We had hoped and had the power to do better, but bike racing is such, and we didn’t have the best of days. We are back in Belgium now, having never been happier to be here. Russia was a great experience, but I can live without the traffic, food and apartment buildings.