Finally Breaking the Curse

Taking a well needed break from Superweek, we traveled to DaytonOhio this weekend to compete at the Troy Classic on the Square, and Tour d’Berg. The entire Panther team assembled for these races. When I say full panther team, I mean about twelve riders (not just elite team). These were pretty local races, but still difficult. Texas Roadhouse and Kenda Pro Cycling both had teams present. Saturday’s race had a really cool course that hit a roundabout twice a lap, the second time going the long way around the roundabout, which combined with being off cambered, got into some pretty hard cornering. Other than that, all the corners were pretty much banked, meaning you could rail them at well over 25 mph.

Being the largest team in the race it was obvious from the start that we would not be letting anything go without some white jersey representation. I had a close call in the first turn when a rider squeezed into a spot on my inside that really wasn’t there, we bashed wheels and he went down, taking out a good ten riders, fortunately I kept it upright. The guy who crashed into me must have been using WD-40 on his drive train because after it my leg was covered in black chairing marks. After this, and recovering form a side stitch, that I’m pretty sure was caused by a soapy water bottle, Paul and Jeremy had gotten into a six man breakaway with two Kenda riders, a Texas rider and one other. With around ten laps to go to Kenda riders went to the front to start pulling the breakaway for some reason, just when this was happening both the Kenda riders in the breakaway got simultaneously dropped, meaning Panther then had two out of four in the breakaway. Coming down to three laps to go it was apparent that no one had the firepower to pull back the break, so we started leading out. The guy’s were doing a great job of leading out, Andy Clark taking early from 3 to go and I had gotten myself into good position from following a late attack from Kirk Albers from Texas roadhouse that got a decent little gap. With two to go Texas tried to spoil our lead-out, but only managed to get one rider up to the front. Another of their riders tried to muscle me off Vince’s wheel but all the practice bumping and grinding at Superweek paid off and I was able to keep my wheel. Greg took over the lead-out halfway through the final lap, keeping it strung out through the roundabout. As an added bonus we caught the Texas rider going through the roundabout in the final lap, meaning we were sprinting for fourth place in the field. With such a sick lead-out from the team there wasn’t really a way for me to screw up the sprint and took fourth place. Not only that but Jeremy won, and Paul was second.
Derek rounded out the top ten and Greg kept it up to get eleventh. You can’t really ask for a better performance. In addition a jewelry store that was sponsoring the race had put up commemorative Tour de France Festina watches for not only the winner of the race, but also the best U23 rider. Lucky for me, all the guys up the road were old..er, meaning I got a new piece of bling:


I also found these awesome pictures of the Troy race online, thanks to Doug Gatto.

With such a great performance on Saturday we were expecting an easy victory, today. The race course was a basic P shaped course, with a small stretch of brick road. This race, unlike Saturday stuck together like glue. There was one point where a breakaway had nearly half a lap but was brought back form attacks. So it was a field sprint in the end. I had not been paying attention to the lap cards and the first I noticed that we were close to finishing we were already down to four laps to go. So I got caught out too far back too close to the end. I did manage to get up to finish fifth through a lot of early sprinting and some luck. Kenda had a great lead-out going, when a big crash happend taking out most of the Kenda leadout along with about ten other riders including Ryan who was out best placed rider at that point. Jeremy and I had been lucky enough to be on the inside of the carnage, passing about 10 riders. The two Texas riders sitting on the Kenda train managed to keep it upright and were the first two through the wrecks and stayed ahead for first and second.

So the team finally broke the drought of not winning with a pretty big result in Troy. Hopefully this translates into momentum going into the last week of superweek.

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