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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog
It seems to be my luck that this particular course is just out to get me. Last year in 2008 I made it though what I remember as a more difficult race, as we had to fight wind across the fields unlike the calm air we experienced this year. However, after making it safely onto the final circuit last year and even making the lead break, I ended up surfing the pavement on my rear as a rider slid out in front of me leaving those behind her no where to go. This year the frustrations of poor bike handling skills continued and once again I’m left with no options.
The Cannon Falls race course in general is a fast one for a road race. There are no truly defining climbs and with a calm wind day like we experienced this year the chances of a break getting off and sticking were quite slim. This of course results in the majority of the pack staying together in a massive group, which also means it only takes one bad decision or move to take down numerous riders. As I recall there may have been a few small encounters early on in the race that caused havoc for some. In general holding a good position and staying away from the back can keep a rider out of harms way, but sometimes even those in the best positions somehow end up in a mess. If I had to name my strengths as a rider, I think one of the first things on my list would be positioning. I generally have a good idea of a smart place to be and I can generally get myself there and maintain my spot. Yet somehow this race has managed to result in pavement contact for me two years in a row.
This year we were only about 5K from the dirt section (my favorite part!) and entering the finishing circuits and I was in good position, getting ready to navigate my way to a good spot for entering the dirt. Before I got a chance to start advancing and with no warning at all a few girls in front of me just seemed to tangle and go straight for the pavement. I don’t crash often because I’m typically pretty good at avoiding such situations but there was no getting out of this one. In no time I was on the pavement and all I really remember was hearing my helmet scrape along the ground as I came to a stop tangled in the bikes and girls in front of me. I tried to tuck my head into my arms as I was curled up on the ground and prepared for what I knew was coming – a pummeling from all the riders behind me! Sure enough one after another, a wheel in the back and two or three strong hits to the back of my helmet. Then it all stopped and I just laid there on the bottom of a heap, waiting for bikes and bodies to clear off the top.
When I finally opened my eyes I was staring at the grayish black pavement less than an inch away from my face, my Rooly glasses lying next to my head were undamaged. Once I sensed that everyone has gotten of the top of me I started to move, a bit nervous about what I might discover, but lucky for me everything on my body seemed to be alright. By the time I was uncovered and on my feet our mechanic, Max, was right there and getting the chain back on my bike. The wheels were spinning and I jumped back on the bike as Max pushed me off to continue riding. I had felt the hits to my head but nothing was enough to cause any throbbing or ach there, and other than that I could tell my left forearm had taken a pretty good blow but I could still grip the bars and as I double checked there was no bone fracture pain! At this point it was clear the day’s race was over for me and anyone behind me, but I needed to finish so I was able to start the following day’s stage.
The finishing circuits brought more comic relief to the situation. Coming out of a corner I got out of the saddle just to stretch my legs and put some more pressure on the pedals when all of the sudden I heard a noise equivalent to splintering wood, simultaneously my left hand felt the breaking fibers of my carbon bars as they snapped at the bend. As it turns out the grinding of my carbon fiber bars against the pavement during the crash had compromised their integrity. At that point the drop of my bar remained in place only because of cables and bar tap. I was expecting to be pulled from the circuits as I was so far behind the main bunch but after being told I was suppose to complete all the laps I just sat on the tops of my bars, avoiding any pressure on the left hood, and rolled around the last few laps until the race was complete and I was assured the ability to start stage 3.
Although my bars and helmet need to be replaced and I was sure to have a few scrapes and bruises, it is all just part of the sport. It is always good to ride away from a crash and at the end of the day a bad day on the bike is still better than a bad day in a cubical!
Throughout the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Jacquelyn Crowell is sharing her observations and experiences as a first-year professional for Team Type 1. Through the first three stages, the University of Florida student leads the APC Best Young Rider competition (for racers younger than 26). She is 14th overall, 1:19 off the lead.
I went into Thursday night’s Cannon Falls Road Race with the goal of keeping my teammate, Alison Powers, protected and possibly moving her closer to the overall leader, Kristin Armstrong. We also hoped to help Ali get a time bonus at the finish. But that didn’t work out. Fortunately, Kristin didn’t get a bonus, either.
The 66-mile race went well for us. We kept it upright, which was good, since there were quite a few crashes. We are working together as a team better than we have in the past, but there is still room for improvement.
This was a hard race. The wind wasn’t as bad as last year, but it was still a deciding factor. I tried to stay in the front and out of the wind while still covering attacks. Finally I was able to do something for the team! I felt really bad Wednesday night because I wasn’t able to do anything for the team during the criterium in Downtown St. Paul.
There was a big crash a few kilometers before we made a right turn onto an 800-meter dirt section as we neared Cannon Falls. Right up until it happened, I had been fretting because I didn’t think I would be able to get to the front before we got onto the dirt. Our director, Jack Seehafer, had told us how important it was to be at the front going into that section. So here I was, thinking I hadn’t done what I needed to do, when there was suddenly a crash on the right. All the girls who had been in front of me were gone and there I was at the front!
I loved the dirt section. It was awesome. Some girls actually missed the turn on the outside and my teammate, Samantha Schneider, and I dove to the inside and passed about 20 people. That was great.
We came onto the finishing circuits in good position and with all five of us from Team Type 1. It would have been six, but Morgan Patton, one of two riders on our team who has Type 1 diabetes, didn’t make the time cut Wednesday. It’s always a blow to the team when you lose a rider because we’re like a family, not just a team. But Morgan is still around and helping us out. She was even cheering us on in the feed zone.
The highlight of Thursday had to be when I got called up to put on the Active Performance Complete (APC) Best Young Rider jersey. I was fourth in the standings heading into the stage but ended up first by the end of the race. I don’t know what happened to the other three girls who were ahead of me, but if I can keep the jersey, that would be awesome. I have kind of been in a slump after collegiate nationals and a crash at the Wilmington criterium. So it feels good to finally be first at something.
I also want to use this platform to thank our host family for making dinner for us after the races. It’s awesome to come home each night and have a nice dinner waiting for us. And a big thank you to the race organization of the Nature Valley Grand Prix for letting me share my thoughts with you.
I’m looking forward to Friday night’s criterium in Minneapolis. It will hopefully be an easier day for the team. It should also be a semi-recovery day for the upcoming stages. We need to make sure we are ready for Saturday.
Erica Allar Wins Action-Packed Cannon Falls Road Race; Armstrong Retains Lead
By Cynthia Lou
It might have been a beautiful day in Cannon Falls, Minn., but racing in Stage 3 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix was active and stormy, with Erica Allar of Value Act Capital emerging triumphant through crashes, a missed turn, and endless breakaway attempts. Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light) finished second, with Shelley Olds (Proman Hit Squad) third.
“We missed the turn [onto the 1-mile stretch of gravel road] so we had to stop, turn our bikes around, chase through the dirt section and make it back to the front,” Erica recalls, fresh off her win. “After I missed the turn I said to myself, ‘Well, there goes my race’, but I wasn’t willing to give up. Yesterday we didn’t have a very good day. We were itchin’ for a better day and it couldn’t be any better than this.”
The action started from the beginning, with the first Queen of the Hills (QOH) competition at 3.6 miles, won by Ruth Corset (Jazz Apple Women’s Cycling Team). An early attack by Christina Smith (Veloforma) launched after the first QOH marked the only notable break, gaining up to 20 seconds before getting caught within 4 miles.
“It was non-stop,” said yellow jersey wearer Kristin Armstrong, who stayed within the top 10 throughout the race, dropping back to 30 just briefly after reeling in several breakaways in a row.
“All the teams were represented in the breaks. Everyone looked at me [to bring back the breaks]. It was a lot of work for me at the end of the day, but you know what – that’s what I’m here for. I respect that everyone’s out there racing their bikes. It’s so much fun, that’s what bike racing is.”
Not only did breaks separate the field, there were several crashes that left chunks of the peloton chasing back to the field.
“I crashed a few miles before the turn onto the dirt road,” says Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light), who finished second today. “We were last onto the gravel part, and we missed the turn,” Tina said, noting that “If it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t have been able to do so well – I thought I was done after I chased back onto the pack!”
Tiffany Cromwell won the Sport Beans Queen of the Hills Jersey, and today’s winner, Erica Allar, took over the Freewheel Most Aggressive Rider Jersey. Kristin Armstrong maintained the leader’s jersey, while the Wheaties Sprint Jersey stayed with Kirsty Broun (Riverstone CDA). Jacquelyn Crowell (Team Type 1) will start tomorrow’s Uptown Minneapolis Criterium in the APC Best Young Rider Jersey, and Kate Veronneau (Altarum Women’s Cycling Team) in the Nature Valley Top Amateur Jersey.
Racing resumes in Minneapolis on Friday, June 12, with the women’s race starting at 6 pm.
Colavita Olive Oil makes it two in a row as leaders maintain positions in stage 3 of Nature Valley
By James Lockwood
One good turn deserves another.
So it was for Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, who used its two star sprinters to perfection to take its second win in a row in Stage Three of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. After leading out his teammate, Sebastian Haedo, for the win in Wednesday’s Downtown St. Paul Criterium, it was Alejandro Borrajo’s turn to take home the spoils Thursday in the 64-mile Cannon Falls Road Race.
“He came through for me,” Borrajo said of Haedo, his friend of more than 10 years. “With 40 meters to go, Sebastian led out, and it was perfect for me.”
“Ale has been riding good,” said Colavita’s director Sebastian Alexandre. “He has been leading out Sebastian for many races, and today, I told him it was his turn. With the hill at the end, it was a course that was good for him.”
“They are a classy outfit,” said Bissell Pro Cycling’s Peter Latham, who overcame a crash nearly halfway through the race to help his teammate, Tom Zirbel, keep his leader’s jersey.
OUCH-Maxxis’ John Murphy, who finished third on the stage, said Colavita is taking full advantage of the fact that OUCH and Bissell are currently sitting atop the standings while it sits in the wings.
“They’ve got a little more room to win the sprints, and they are doing a good job of it,” Murphy said.
Still, OUCH did not give the win to Colavita. After spending 54 miles in the east central Minnesota farmland staying out of trouble and monitoring attacks, the team entered the two-mile finishing circuit intending to set up Murphy for the win. With three laps to go in the five-lap finish, OUCH went to the front of the peloton to push the pace.
OUCH director Mike Tamayo said it was probably a little too early to go to the front.
Murphy said he got jammed up in the sprint coming off of his teammates’ wheels, but he wasn’t totally disappointed with the finish. His third place came with a six-second time bonus, erasing the six seconds he lost in the second stage crit and moving him into the top five in the overall classification.
“It was good to get a little time back,” he said. “We wanted to try to put a little pressure on Bissell, but it didn’t work out.”
Zirbel kept the leaders’ jersey, maintaining his seven-second lead over OUCH-Maxxis’ Rory Sutherland, but he said the race was not easy for the team. In addition to having Latham hit the deck, Frank Pipp also was involved in the crash. With no breaks allowed to get away, it kept the team on edge the whole race.
“People wanted to get in a break the whole day,” he said. “That just made it hard.”
The most successful break of the day was made by Chad Gerlach, riding for Amore e Vita presented by Life Time Fitness-Velo Vie. After trying twice in the first half of the race, Gerlach finally made a break look promising 31 miles into the race. Soloing for 10 miles, he built a lead of 50 seconds, but with 15 miles to go, it all came back together.
“I just wanted to make the ride harder,” said Gerlach of his non-stop attacks. His effort earned him the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey. “I had really good legs.”
Alexandre said he was not surprised that no breaks got away. With a rolling course with no real hills, perfect weather conditions, and top teams with an eye for the overall win, he said this is a race of strategy, not necessarily of tradition.
“Today, everyone wanted to sprint. Everybody wanted the stage,” he said. “With three stages coming up, as soon as a team does something wrong, it’s over for them.”
Borrajo said, though, it won’t be over for Colavita.
“We plan to win again,” he said. “It’s important. If we win one more stage, we are maybe on the podium.”
Cannon Falls, located just 35 miles from Saint Paul, is one of Minnesota’s favorite tourist destinations. It is the trail head for the Cannon Valley Trail, the Midwest’s premier bicycle trail, which runs from Cannon Falls to Red Wing. Cannon Falls also offers the Cannon River Winery, excellent antique shops and great places to eat in its historic downtown.
The Cannon Falls Road Race winds through scenic Goodhue County before finishing on a circuit in downtown Cannon Falls. This race proved to be decisive in 2006, with small groups gaining minutes on the chasing packs in both the men’s and women’s races. Riders who failed to make it into these breakaways had no shot at the yellow jersey for the rest of the Nature Valley GP.
Cross winds can break up a race just like long mountain climbs. The Cannon Falls Road Race course offers little shelter, so expect the pack to shatter if it’s a windy day.
Women’s Pro/Elite Race: 60 miles
Men’s Pro/Elite Race: 60 miles
Finish: Four laps of the Cannon Falls finishing circuit
4:30 PM – Expo opens & Stunt Rider Shows
5:00 PM – Men start
5:30 PM – Women start
6:15 PM – Shimano/Hoigaards Tour de Kids fun race
7:20 PM – Men finish
8:15 PM – Women finish
9:00 PM – Expo closes
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, cycling enthusiasts and those who just enjoy bikes riding above the speed limit, the week of the Nature Valley Grand Prix is upon us!
Starting Tuesday, we’ll have the stage-by-stage preview, with a map of the route, as well as the current standings and, if applicable, the winner of the previous stage. Keep your browser pointed to the TRIA Orthopaedic Center blog for the most up-to-date results, pictures, information and carnage, because it’s bound to happen!
Remember that it’s not just about the bike! There will be fun for the entire family during the races, so check out the Minnesota Bike Festival website for more information!
Here’s a quick rundown of the races and locations:
Wednesday, June 10th:
STAGE 1: St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial (8:30 am to 12:00 pm)
STAGE 2: Downtown St. Paul Criterium (pro/elite women at 6:00 pm; pro/elite men at 7:40 pm)
Thursday, June 11th:
STAGE 3: Cannon Falls Road Race (5:00 pm men; 5:30 pm women; all racing done at 8:15 pm)
Friday, June 12th:
STAGE 4: Uptown Minneapolis Criterium (women’s pro race at 6:30 pm; men’s pro race at 7:45 pm; all racing done at 8:45 pm)
Saturday, June 13th:
STAGE 5: Mankato Road Race (1:15 pm men start; 1:50 pm women start; all racing done at 5:40 pm)
Sunday, June 14th:
STAGE 6: Stillwater Criterium (pro/elite women at 12:00 pm; pro/elite men at 1:30 pm; all racing done at 3:00 pm)
We hope the 2009 edition is the best yet. Come see it live!