Posted by Editoress on 04/8/12
O-Cup #1, held in Flamborough Ontario on Friday, April 6th.
The weather was nice with a temperature reaching 15C and clear skies with a moderate to strong wind of about 30kph that was blowing from the North. The GF race is highly anticipated as it is the first road race of the season in Ontario. Thanks to the mildest winter on record, we have all been able to hold group rides straight through the winter, so riders were in great form.
Over 500 eager licensed riders registered for this first O-Cup event of the season, whereas most O-Cup Road events over the past 2 years have drawn between 300-400 riders. The Wheels of Bloor team showed up for the Masters 1 event with 13 registered riders out of a field of more than 80.
A tragic incident occurred earlier in the day where a woman was killed in a single vehicle accident right near a police checkpoint at an intersection on the course. The accident did not involve any cyclists.
Everyone involved with putting on the race worked hard to alter the route, setting up new check points and re-routing traffic so that we could still all race. The start time for the Masters 1 race was delayed by about 90 minutes pushing it back from 1:35pm to close to 3pm. Right before the start Motorhead’s “The Ace of Spades” was blasted out over the PA system while the riders from Sound Solution rocked out at the back end of the yet to be started peloton beside me. The announcer called out prior to the race start that the Elite 1,2 race would be 4 laps and the Masters 1 field would complete 3 laps. One minute before the race the announcer stated that the M1 race would in fact be 4 laps, and then the race began.
The pace was hot right from the start as we headed south with a tailwind after a brief neutralized start. The fast pace continued as we turned west fighting a crosswind. A conversation level pace was established only after turning north into a direct headwind which made for some relatively easy riding at the back of the large group. The slower pace did not last long as I had to push 700 watts on the climbs over the drumlins near Safari road just to keep pace. Naturally no one was able to establish a break given the eagerness of the peloton.
I remained at the back of the Peloton for almost 2 laps until we hit the crosswind section at on Safari road heading east. The road opened up in front of me as riders moved to the right hand shoulder to avoid the wind. This provided me with a welcomed opportunity to move up quickly to the pointy end of the race. When I got up to the front I saw WOB team captain Radek Lukasik near the front and teammate Chris Firek 20 meters of the front with a couple of other riders. I looked to Radek who shouted “Go!” so off I went on my first dig of the day, but the peloton was having none of it. After turning the corner on Brock Rd and heading South teammate Paolo Eugeni rode up to me and encouraged another hard effort at the front. We pedaled with purpose but once again, no dice, as the peloton strung out behind us. I looked over to see Carlo Capaldi’s grinning face and heard him say something like “Not this time”.
I tried to stay near the front as we continued South with the tailwind but somehow managed to get passed by 30 rider before turning right on Concession 4 to deal with the crosswind again. The riders in front of me moved left to shelter from the wind, so I moved to the right and rode up to the front of the race. I kept on riding hard and moved to the left allowing just enough room between me and the yellow line to shelter my captain Radek from the wind. When I started to tire I signaled for help and moved right, Radek and teammate Matthias Schmidt took turns at the front.
We led the pack all the way up to the right hand turn North but slowed down to rest prior to the turn. Rounding the corner Brent Aquino (Team Zuck) took the lead and I rode up to his wheel and then past as hard as I could until I ran out of gas. When I slowed down everyone behind me slowed as well just for a few moments and the Matthias put in the decisive move of the day into the wind. Only one other rider reacted and we all watched them ride off into distance creating a gap that would grow to close to a minute.
Teammate Tony Abramavicius was the first rider to Marshall the front of the race allowing the gap to grow. Once the gap grew to over 30 seconds we started to allow single riders to break free only to watch them suffer in the wind and ultimately fade back to us in the main group. This pattern continued until the climb up to Safari Rd when Kevin Davis (Nacsworld) put is a leg breaking missile attack up the left side gaining up to 20 meters on all the rest of us. I put my head down and gave it all I had managing to catch Kevin once we started heading downhill after cresting the climb. I looked back to realize that Kevin and I were free of the peloton. My momentum carried me past Kevin but I let up knowing that working to bring Kevin up to my teammate in the break would be a strategic mistake given Kevin’s awesome talents. Kevin did not get mad at the missed opportunity and lack of cooperation, instead he told me that he understand the tactic; class act.
After Kevin’s attack we went back to our tactic of allowing one or two riders free to challenge no man’s land in between the shelter of the peloton and the glory of the break. The 2-man break remained about 1-minute ahead as we neared the end of the third lap. A police car slowed up in front of us and started waiving his hand to the right making it clear to us that he wanted the group to head in toward the finish line instead of continuing on to complete the 4th lap. We all slowed up puzzled as no explanation was offered. I decided to ride up to the car to get an explanation when I heard from another rider that the race was off. This happened just before the right hand turn up to the finish line so everyone started madly sprinting for third place behind Matthias and the other rider in the break. As I pedaled hard losing spots to the sprinters I could not help thinking that we had not heard from the commissaries yet and maybe the officer was just waiving us back onto the original course as it was now clear.
As I crossed the line I yelled out to the finish judge “How many more laps?” I did not hear any response from anyone it just seemed that some kind of foregone conclusion that the race was over. I decided to keep on pedaling and finish up the 4 laps just in case we had received false information but mostly because I was angry. Brent Aquino rode up to me and we rode together for most of the 4th lap going as hard as we could. A few other riders completed the 4th lap as well including Rob D’Amico and Greg Cavanagh, Nick Dwyer and Antonio Goncalves (I think).
After finishing the 4th lap I started to hear what had actually happened and why. The race was effectively neutralized on the 4th Concession during lap 3 due to flagrant violations of the yellow line rule by a majority of the pack coupled with riders actually drafting behind the police vehicle as the officer tried to move up the left side of the road.
There has been no official statement yet as to why the entire field was DQ’ed, which will be forthcoming from the commissaries and will hopefully provide the proper incentive to stop future violations of the rules in future races. The message of DQ’ing the entire field is clear; if we can’t all play nice in the sandbox then no one gets to play. That means that we should police each other as clearly policing ourselves does not work and relying on commissaries to decipher which of us are playing nice and which of us are throwing and eating sand is impractical given the current constraints (road use, course design, money, number of available commissaries). Fortunately as riders we have a lot of practice in policing each other as we do so in all of our group rides. In our group rides there is no official finish line, no officials, no prizes and no entrance fee. We ride because we love it. When we race there is an expectation that we must all follow a set of rules and those who violate them will be punished. When those who break the rules gain an advantage and are not punished more and more riders cross over that slippery yellow line separating a race from a group ride. There is no excuse for this type of behaviour, we all make mistakes, we can do better and I am sure that we will.
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