Friday, September 12, 2008

Texas Tough at Victory Plaza

Signor Vangeli might be in Missouri watching Toyota United, Columbia, Jittery Joe's and Garmin Chipotle, but those of us in Dallas were treated to a 1st caliber race last night with some of the same teams. One of the race announcers was 1310 "The Ticket's" Craig Miller. Strange, he sounds much more knowledgable about cycling than the couch potato sports he normally covers. I have never seen him out on the roads, but he is supposedly a very competent rider.

The course was 1500m around the W, American Airlines Center and Victory Plaza. The HD screens were a huge plus as most of the race course was covered by cameras, so the remarkable accelerations for the $250, $500 and $1000 dollar primes were impressive to watch. So was the moment I said to Caryn, "you're on TV" and she ducked away so fast it was like watching the sprint for a $1000 prime! I have seen races at Fair Park (7-11, Alfa Romeo were the big teams) and the Tour of Texas at City Hall and Flag Pole Hill in Dallas and Trinity Park in Fort Worth (Davis Phinney, Taylor's dad won, 7-11 again dominant) and this venue was top notch!

The RBM guys that we see around town mixed it up quite nicely with the national teams. Garmin's Pat McCarty (last seen helping to win the TTT at the Giro D'italia) was off the front grabbing some of the big primes. He is originally from Allen, so it was rewarding to see a rider from the Dallas area ripping off some impressive laps.

After 20 minutes of racing, a few guys were shelled out the back. A few laps would go by and you know you would have been able to hang with the group on this lap or that lap, but every lap? The guys who were never in front but able to hang around are to be lauded, because the pace on every lap was high, some laps it was Audi RS8 worthy. After 50 minutes a few more did the finger across the throat, (the universal sign for 'I'm finished, I rode like that Scot guy usually does") Some of the faces in the group, RBM, GS Tensing, and Park Place teams are guys that make us hurt on many local rides, so seeing them hurt makes it so much more intense, and puts it in perspective.

The prime laps? It is shocking to see in the middle of a race someone gaining 10-15 seconds in just 1.5 k to claim the money. The race would usually reintegrate, but crits are not only about the finish, but about the inumerable races within the race. Heath Blackgrove of Toyota United appeared to be able to go off the front whenever he wanted to, and had some able teamates such as Justin England and Ivan Stevic able to slow down the peloton when needed. About half of the field looked like they would not argue with that strategy.

Pat McCarty claimed a prime that after he passed the start/finish, the announcers couldn't remember if it was $250 or $500. That part of the race is so "side-show," and gives the riders so much more to think about than following that wheel in front of you (like strangling the announcers, who to their credit did less of the "bike race 1101 section 001" than usual)

With five laps to go Heath Blackgrove of Toyota United built a 10 - 15 second lead and we were to find out that his motivation was to get to the podium and tell the announcer that he was "Kiwi" not Australian! Awkward foot in mouth moment at the end was to follow after the kiwi reached his goal, with time to zip up and raise his arms in triumph.

During all of this, I was expecting the text message from Samuel regarding the Kilo in Colorado Springs' 7-11 Velodrome. I found out later that rains have delayed many events until today.
Expect updates as the day progresses....

I think my reporting is less polished than Michael's. I will let him cover big time races in the future!

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