Article by Ferra (with a special guest appearance from Huggy)
This race took place on the 15th of March 2014
Second race in the NW road racing calendar saw the Blotto crew head to the north west of Seattle to the small town of Sequim. Also known as the shadow of the Olympic Mountains, where unlike the rest of Washington, rain is not such a common feat.
After the long drive down and around the Sound, we arrived at Sequim ready to unleash Blotto pain on the rest of the field in what was a 4x20km loop of a fast, flat course consisting of a few rollers. This race turned out to be Hugo’s first race on US soil and his first race in over a year. Kudos to him for getting back out there, the roads/racers akin definitely missed that ever distinctive ‘breathing’ technique of his.
The race started pretty relaxed, riders were happy to sit in the pack and roll their way around the first of the 4 loops. Most attacks in this first lap were marked pretty well with the peloton ensuring no one stretched out a lead of more than a few seconds. Second and third lap saw the pace pick up considerably. Attacks were more frequent and more aggressive; however no solo attempt was fruitful. This increase in pace did however result in the bunch thinning out leaving a considerably smaller lead pack than the 40+ strong riders which had started the race. Hugh and I located in the now smaller lead pack, made certain we kept up the pace, rolling through our turns at the front and at one point when no one else could roll through we pulled the pack along for a considerable period. Ensuring no one had a free ride. This is how we roll…
We entered the bell lap still as a tight nit lead group of around 25 odd riders, most of which were happy to settle the race as a bunch sprint. Unlike in the previous years, the finish line would be located at the top of short but sharp climb. Timing and position was going to be the key as the typical lead out trains were not going to be as affective compared to a flat finish. With only two members present, this suited us Blotto boys well.
Rounding up to final few corners before the finish, team lines started to form, sprinters were jostling for position whilst Hugh and I tried to pick our lines. Fortunately for everyone both sides of the road were open from the 1km mark, compared to the norm of just 200m. This allowed the pack to spread and the riders to really wind up as the made their final accent to the finish line.
Hugh and I were well positioned just at the base of the climb sitting towards the forward half of the bunch as the 1km mark beckoned upon us. As we hit the climb….
This was a good re-introductory race for me on fairly flat terrain. It wasn’t particularly difficult to stay with the pack, so I’m still not sure how any battlers managed to get dropped on this course. Having only about 8 weeks of solid training under the belt and nearly 9 months off the bike from any form of racing, the differences in abilities between Ferra and I are still stark. What I didn’t have in fitness I made up for in race craft. To the un-trained eye this may have appeared quite similar to sucking a wheel for 79km before attempting anything particularly straining.
I came into the final sprint towards the second half of the pack and on the slight incline many racers were dropping like flies as we hurtled towards the line. Disobeying direct and multiple instructive orders from Ferra to stay on the left and wait for the road to open, I knew better with my superior judgment and proceeded up the right hand side of the pack taking a fraction more shelter from the wind and was poised to launch into the clear to take the glory. Enroute to my first win for the season, my ambitions were de-railed when I ran out of room and had to resort to riding even an inch of two in the dirt at times, trying to clear a rider on the right hand side. I pulled alongside yelling in his ear to clear the way for the big guns, but unfortunately this didn’t provoke the reaction I expected. There was not enough room to get out of the saddle and start swinging the handlebars madly. In my mind, even though I seemed to be gaining on the leaders, another 500m would have been required to clear the muck and plant the gas. In the end 8th position was all I could muster. It was my first sniff of action in a long time and has been great reward for all the foul weather training Ferra and I have had to endure in the last few weeks. Congratulation to Ferra for a masterful demonstration in timing and power.
Ferra’s POV: I ventured left following a moving train up on the LHS of the road where there was a fair amount of open space. As the team in front of me started to peel off one at a time, I poised to jump well before their last rider peeled off to catch the sprinters napping. As it turned out I hit the lead a lot of earlier than expected. However still not in full sprint mode I bought my time before whipping that new Cannondale into motion.. ’Show me what you’ve got’. Astonishing she had plenty to offer, oh boy! With the finish line in sight I nearly choked on my tongue as I realised I was in the clear with only a few meter to go. Of course those last few meters happened to be the hardest meters of the entire race, as I could feel the wave of riders snapping at my heels. Eventually I crossed the line ahead of the pack in my first ever P1 result in a road race.
Great hit out by the Blotto crew, definitely going to be a team to be reckoned with this road racing season. Stay tuned for the next race report. Vance Creek Road Race 29th March. This time we will be in our brand new Blotto kits. Which abilities aside, will raise eyebrows amongst the rest of the packs for all the right reason.