Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


25 August 2009

Tour Of Utah.

Sometimes I think there is trend. The harder and longer the stage race, the longer it takes me to get something written up about it! So the Tour of Utah was a blast. The stages, while freakin' hard, were amazing. Utah sure is a beautiful place to have a bicycle showdown, with plenty of climbing and in turn breathtaking descents. Speaking of going downhill quick, in the end it was Allen who won the battle of the speed demons for the week, maxing out at 104km/h. I could only manage a measly 96km/h but to be honest I don't even want to think too hard about that!

The first stage prologue stage of 4.5km was pretty rad, with a few tricky sections including a high speed blind chicane just before the finish. As you can imagine there were a million discussions around it....' did you do it hands outside or tucked in?'....'on the brakes for sure..'..'I saw the BMC guys drill it through there in the aero bars....damn!'. Either way it hurt and coming into the 6 day race fresh, afterwards it felt like my lungs had been torn in half. From the results it was clear our two GC hopes were Peter Horn (from camp Johan in Belgium) and last years Health-Net star Corey Collier with some fast times. The rest of us were to look after them and try for breakaways each day....and to simply hold on and survive as best we could in the ride they dubbed ' America's Toughest Stage Race' (cue scary music here).

From there it was straight into the mountains. For what would be a theme for the rest of the week, I felt I climbed pretty well, but perhaps lacked 10-15W or so on the old threshold to be able to make it over the climbs with the first group. Stage one I was completely in the red until 4km to the summit of KOM number 2 and promptly got tailed off. Stage two OUCH/Maxxis flexed their muscles hard at the base of the 30km climb of Mt Nebo (yes you read that right, 30km climb!) and I was spent before the road truly went skywards. Skywards to 9300ft that is.

(photo credit: Lyne @ podiumsinight)

Thinking back on Fridays ITT it was pretty wild. Held at the Miller Motorsports Track, it was 14.5km on some smooth and quality tarmac lined with ripple-strips. Time trialling is an area I need to spend a lot of time practicing this off season, having only really done a handful and never that well. To be honest, I thought I had my best TT of the season immediatley afterwards, not starting out too hard and pacing myself well. The reality was I was still 1.53min down...but had fun pretending to be a race car anyway.

Each team had half a pit bay at the motor track...tight, tight, tight..

The 'queen stage' this year was a beauty. Three major climbs and the final being a mountain top finish to Snowbird Ski Resort. After a few parade laps of Park City we were away, and quickly were warmed up by a nasty little highway grade climb 20km in. Some were more warmed up than others, with Allen and Troy having to chase hard back onto the field after a nature break. Entirely not their fault as we were allowed to skip out the parade laps to use the restrooms if needed, but the announced 3 laps turned out to only be 2.5, turning off early and leaving those two asking locals for directions as to which way the circus went.

Once again I couldn't hang on the the front bunch up the first major climb up the Alpine loop, settling into a large group over the top. After getting radio calls of ONE corner to take caution on down the backside, I didn't think too much else of the rest of the descent. How wrong I was! It was crazy technical and fast, super tight hairpins and 'forever corners' that just seemed to keep on turning. It was fun for sure, but required a high level of concentration to make it all down in one piece. The big I group rode with was pretty settled up until the final 15km Snowbird climb. At that point it was scorching hot and most of us were running very low on the cool and liquid stuff. Every time we passed spectators there were cries for water, and I found a golden ticket in the form of being handed an unopened, cold can of coke. Thank you spectator whoever you were! Damn it was fantastic. Needless to say I got popular in the bunch real quick, and was happy to look after some fellow Fly V Aussies with a swig of black gold. Nearing the top I kept the pace high and finished in a small group of 6, catching a few stragglers along the way. The best part was the clown who decided to sprint finish outta our group for 41st, and also laying claim to the "Tool Of The Day' award. Good for you.

The final day was a 90min criterium. Flat as a pancake and four corners. By this stage the tank was clearly close to the 'E' and we were only down to 5 men. Fast Corey was super unlucky to cop an infection that took him out, and Original Corey got DQ'ed for some vehicle hang time on the Nebo stage. The stage was fast and well controlled by GC leaders Rock Racing but I was able to hang in there and make it though for a finish. Allen smashed it up for an 11th place in the sprint and then it was truly time to collapse for everyone.

Fast Corey talkin' it up to the press

Overall it was a fantastic week. Sure I didn't have great legs or get a stellar result anywhere, but it was great to be part of a dedicated and well supported program. Everyone got along really well and rode together as a team. A massive shout out of thanks to Scott, Pat, Chris and Alecia for their tireless hard working in looking after 8 skinny blokes in lycra. Thanks also to the Rio boys (and other guest riders) for a bunch of laughs and hard racing....good times.

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