Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


23 June 2011

Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Straight from Tulsa it was a short flight to Denver, before changing planes and heading onto Minneapolis.  With a 2hr layover around lunch time, Kat well and truly earned the "Best Girlfriend Of The Year" award, delivering us a Chipotle lunch at the airport.  Yep, pretty darn special!  With the focus for Team V Australia on defending the title at Tour de Beauce in Canada, the squad for Nature Valley was just Benny K, Scotty L and myself.  With only three guys the plan was to hunt for stage wins, with Benny and Scotty in the crits and myself in the road stages.  Most of all I was looking forward to returning to Stillwater and bettering my fourth place there last year.  A big ask but I was confident that a year later would mean a year stronger right?  I guess on the whole I put a fair bit of pressure on myself for a result, but the reality was I didn't quite have the week I was looking for.

The first three days I struggled with some stomach issues, but mainly overall it was the overall lack of racing in the legs that impacted the most.  Last year I had a great lead in coming of the 6 day Mt Hood Classic, where as this year, May was way too quiet to have that top end needed to be able to go with the moves.  No excuses, just the reality of the game.  Nonetheless it was exciting to be part of the action all week.  UHC were unreal the first few days of the race, quite simply on another level compared to everyone else.  It wasn't until the Menomonie RR that the domestic teams took a stand, and went balls out at the second KOM, isolating Rory and leaving his team mates behind.  It was an awesome move and I would have loved to have gotten the memo the night before!  I didn't make the split and the day was done for me with the infamous Stillwater final stage left.

I was pretty calm on the start line for Stillwater, knowing what needed to be done, and hoping that the body had enough power to follow when the attacks started to fly.  This year the stage dynamics were a little different too, with KBS looking to defend Anthony's jersey, while UHC were now so far back on GC, it was clear they would chase the stage win with Rory.  KBS did a great job controlling tempo most of the race, and although a few guys went up the road it was always going to come back and be fireworks inside the last 10 laps.  With 6 to go exactly that happened, and although I was in the front wheels, simply couldn't lift and respond when needed.  Disappointing for sure, but just the roll of the dice this year.   

So it was tough to leave Nature Valley on a pretty deflated note, but the upside is that I just did 8 days of racing in 10, and hopefully can build on that going into the second half of the season.  A huge thank you to David LaPorte for running such a great race that seems to just get bigger and better every year I've done it.  The Cascade Classic will be my next objective at the end of July, and very much am looking forward to having a crack at that one with the team.  Thanks for reading!

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