September 28/10 10:49 am - Report from Inaugural Collingwood Centurion
Posted by Editoress on 09/28/10
On Sunday September 19th Ed Veal of La Bicicletta won the 160.9km Collingwood Centurion in a sprint finish with Rob D'Amico finishing second and Nicholas Dwyer placing third.
After the singing of the National anthem the race began exactly on time. The organizers had positioned a clock at the start/finish line for all of the riders and spectators to see . A helicopter flew into position overhead to capture history in the making. A neatly formed line of about a dozen police motorcycles formed at the head of the peloton. Most of the motorcycles left just prior to the start to ensure that the that the roads were clear and to take up positions along the course. There was a friendly atmosphere in the starting corral as all the riders who would soon be competing/racing against one another were unified in discomfort with the chilly morning air.
When the starting horn sounded, riders patiently waited for space in front of them to free up before mounting their bikes, clip into their pedals and head off to and away from the resort. The chilly cyclists who had been partially sheltered from the cooler temperatures in the crowded starting corrals were now exposed to even cooler temperatures out on the road, protected only by a thin layer of spandex. The large mass of riders took up the entire road as they headed out on a 4km neutral start. Chatter continued through the peloton as the speed was well controlled by the lead out motor cycles; which did little to help the riders warm-up. Most riders were looking forward to the first of five climbs on the course as an opportunity to warm up.
At the base of the climb after taking a 90 degree right hand turn, conversation came to an abrupt end as riders began to jostle for position. With the neutral vehicle speeding off up ahead the pace picked up as a rider jumped off the front of the peloton. That rider was reeled back in within 500 metres as Ed Veal (La Bicicletta) rode to the front of the pack and drove the pace the rest of the way up the 3.5 kilometre climb from 200 to 550 metres in elevation. By the time the lead group hit the top of the hill just 25 riders remained including Olympic champion Simon Whitfield; who was wearing a Lance Armstrong 'Livestrong' vest. The only team that had any more than two riders in the lead group was Z-team who were well represented with six riders. Once at the top of the climb the selection of riders looked around taking stock of one another before settling into a moderate pace.
At the 15 kilometre marker the course split with those doing the 100 mile (160.93 km) race heading South and those doing the 50 mile (80.46 km) course heading North. All of the riders in the lead group were competing in the long course. The group stayed together for the next five kilometres. The first attack occurred 20 kilometres into the race on the descent where four riders including Ed Veal (2010 OCUP points champion elite category), Tony Abramavicius (Wheels of Bloor) and two other riders. The four riders got a small gap on the peloton when two riders near the front sat up to talk to one another creating a small gap between the lead riders and the rest of the pack. The four riders extended their advantage as the peloton took some time figuring out who would lead the chase. The Z-team with no one in the break sent riders to the front of the peloton and worked hard to chase down the break over the next 5 kilometres. The catch was made right before the first feed zone where all riders slowed to take in some nutrition. Many bottles were dropped as the riders were carrying high speeds from the recent descent into the neutral feed area.
After the feed zone the pace slowed to a conversation sustaining level over the next ten kilometres. Just prior the a right hand turn onto Faigrounds Rd N at the 50 km marker, Veal launched an attack that mesmerized the peloton as no on took up the chase. Whitfield jokingly called out to the pack stating that his legs were nearly as big as Veal's, which had many of the riders laughing.
Veal extended his lead to over a minute over the next 10 kilometres as there was no organized response. Many in the peloton were happy to let Veal tire on his own in the lead. At the start of the second and smallest of the five climbs (200 metres) into Creemore, Spencer Rhys (Enduro Sport) drove the pace at the start of the climb. Bruce Bird (Wheels of Bloor) launched an attack mid way up the ascent in an attempt to bridge the gap to Veal. The rest of the peloton took chase as the riders neared Creemore. Bird caught up to Veal just before Creemore and the two stayed together for the ride through town and into the second of four feedzone's at kilometre 67. Once at the feed zone Veal slowed down an rejoined the main peloton as Bird rode on ahead alone.
The peloton reformed after the feed zone as the riders headed towards the third climb from Websterville to Lavender; approximately 300 metre ascent over five kilometres. By the time Bird reached the start of the climb the second race vehicle dropped back to the main peloton as the gap had extended beyond line of site. The peloton was content to ride at a slower pace allowing Bird to establish a Gap that increased to five minutes by the time he reached the peak of the climb at the 75km mark.
The lead race vehicles communicated to both Bird and the peloton informing them of the time gap throughout the race. Abravamicius, Bird's Wheels of Bloor teammate, worked hard at disrupting any chase attempts and helped to keep the pace of the peloton under control. Bird maintained a five minute lead over the next 50 kilometres to the base of the King of the Mountain competition on the forth climb. Ed Veal beat out Shannon Hunt of Toronto by three seconds to win the KOM crown, racing up the climb in ten minutes flat. In the process the peloton reduced the gap to the lone lead rider down to two minutes, but then let it grow temporarily back up to three minutes as they regrouped at the aid station at the top of the hill.
Over the next 25 kilometres the peloton steadily reduced the gap down to 90 seconds and could now clearly see the lead race vehicle as they started up the final ascent of the day. Energized by having the lead rider within site, the peloton picked up to close down the remaining gap. The catch was finally made at the 154 km point by Rob D'Amico (Z-team), the 2010 Master B Provicial Criterium Champion and another rider. The two riders attacked off of the front of the chase group of about 15 riders and rode by Bird who had been on his own for over 90 kilometres. The pace of the final climb splintered what was remaining of the peloton as the riders sped towards the summit at Scenic Caves atop the Blue Mountains.
Seven riders regrouped on the descent for the final one kilometre ride to the finish line at the Blue Mountain resort. In a sprint finish Ed Veal beat out Rob D'Amico by a bike length and a half with Nicholas Dwyer (Ciclo Sport) of Windsor taking a close third.
Click here for the race results
Click here for a link to the Centurion website
Courtesy Bruce Bird