After Redlands, the team set its sights on the Subaru Sea Otter Classic, a race that would help the guys continue building their racing legs.
The first day's criterium did not go well. Joey was suffering from an illness which left just Joe Schmalz, Ty Magner, Oscar Clark and Toms Skujins to fight for the victory. The tough crit circuit could almost be described as a hot dog with a Dragon tale end. The Canadian Team Québecor stomped it in the race and showed that they are a team to watch in a sprint.
The next day's 70 mile road race was another tough course. Both Ty and Joey were out sick, taking some time to recover. Only Toms, Joe and Oscar were able to represent the team in the race, but the three guys were up to the challenge. The field rode aggressively during the race with our own Joe Schmalz putting in an attack with 2KM to go. He held off the field on the final climb and rolled across the line solo.
The final race of the Sea Otter Classic was on the actual Laguna Seca Race Track Circuit. The boys were finally on the mend, allowing the full squad to participate in the race. After several days off, Joey was anxious to open up the legs again and he animated the race with his hard efforts. His efforts paid off, putting three of our guys in the front group of racers and two in the second group. In the final sprint from the escape group, Ty blasted past Jake Keough for his first sprint win since last season's Cascade Classic.
Up next is the Winston-Salem Classic in North Carolina. This race is now a UCI race and right in our own backyard. And we're ready to put on a good show for our neighbors.
It's been quite the week for the team at the Redlands Cycling Classic. We started off the race with an amazing win on Stage 1 by Dion Smith. On stage 3, the boys helped bring back a five minute gap to setup Ty Magner for a 2nd place sprint result. On the final day, it was Joey Rosskopf's time to let it rip.
Stage 5, the last stage of the race, is a notoriously tough circuit race. Typically only around 50 of the 200+ starters even finish this stage. This year's edition was no different. Coming into the final long circuit, Joey Rosskopf jumped from the dwindling field and bridged solo to a group of three riders. After after a quick rest, Joey hit the gas again and rode away from his breakaway companions. James Oram (Bissell Development) slowly rolled back up to Joey as the pair entered a short downtown circuit for five laps. Joey and James had a 25 second gap on the field going into downtown and working together held off the remnants of the peloton until the end. Joey opened up a solid sprint in the finishing straightaway and rolled across the line first for the win. Joey's gap over the field at the finish, plus the bonus seconds were enough to bump him from 7th place to 1st place in the General Classification, making him the overall winner of the 2014 Redlands Cycling Classic stage race.
The team has been anticipating the start of the Redlands Classic for months. It’s the beginning of the National Race Calendar and the first big goal of the season. In spite of the team’s excitement for the first stage of the race, the boys played it cool and let the other teams control things for most of the short lap circuit race. In the final laps of the race, a small breakaway was brought back by the field. At this point our guys moved towards the front of the peloton to start playing a more active role. With one lap to go, Joey Rosskopf hit the gas on the front to set things up for the boys before the final hill. At the top of the hill Joe Schmalz and Toms Skujins took over leading things out followed by Alexander Ray on the final turn. The roller coaster finish was perfect for Dion Smith who blasted towards the finish with a big enough gap to raise a salute before the line.
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While most of my teammates have been in California for a month long training camp preparing for the Redlands Classic, I stayed home focusing on building form for the Tour of the Gila. As of now I am confident in my climbing ability, so I'm just working on the other pieces of the equation, including time trialing.
I've never had the opportunity to spend any significant amount of time training on my time trial bike, so that has been a major point of focus these past few weeks. This year I have great equipment with the Felt DA suited with a SRM powermeter, as long as I am comfortable and aero, I believe I can do a respectable time trial to keep me at the pointy end of the GC hunt for every race. I never expect to be able to have the same power on the TT bike as I do on a climb but my hope was that I can accomplish somewhere near 95% of that on the Felt DA in a somewhat aero position.
Fortunately I live within 2 hours of one of the only low speed wind tunnels in the US, the A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, NC. We did a little day trip to the heart of NASCAR country, and had the privilege of working with some of the best aero fit specialists. I would highly recommend this experience to any die-hard cyclist that wants to make significant improvements in their position and speed. The "newest wheel" may be top of the line now, it will eventually become outdated and no longer as useful as it once was. Yet, the laws of physics are constant, and the knowledge you learn from a session can be carried forward throughout your career. The A2 fit specialist have seen the best of the best in the wind tunnel, and can pass along the worth while "tips" and "tricks". I think this aspect would be worth the cost of a session... getting to know all the "trade secrets" of the world's best aero specialist.
A session lasts 2-3 hours in total and gave real time results. The pattern was basically trial and error based off the A2 technicians' expertise, each trial was about 80% of race power pedaling into a straight wind for 2 minutes and then at yaw (like a crosswind) for another 2 minutes. They would instantaneously have results and could tell if the adjustment was beneficial. They would then make another adjustment and repeat the process to keep shaving off aero watts by reducing your drag coefficient, saving 2 watts or so here and there with most adjustments. By the end of the day they analyze how much you actually saved compared to your baseline position at the beginning of the day. I won't divulge all of my adjustments, but I did put a priority on not jeopardizing power to become more aero, nonetheless I did save several aero watts without losing any power. Every bike and athlete is different in many ways, it was interesting to see that certain pieces of equipment (aero bars, position, helmet, bottles) may be more aero for one athlete but slower for the next. I will admit I was intimidated by the thought of the process, but the guys at A2 made it easy and a worthwhile investment for any cyclist that is looking for a significant advantage in time trials. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with A2 Wind Tunnels and am taking away valuable information to help improve my overall performance.