The final race on Sunday - up a 22% climb 20 times - with that not being the only difficulty on the circuit, the boys had their work cut out for them. It was also a last chance to make a move, and the last time they would all ride together as the Nature Valley Pro ride team. We discussed positioning as it's crucial at the start of this race, and then it's pretty much a race of attrition.
I watched as they came around lap after lap with young Brandon hanging on well in the pack and each of them holding their own in the field and Tim pretty much hanging out in front. On lap 6 there were KOM points, and here comes Mr Mustache [Tim Rugg] charging up the climb Alone! He's got a 10 second gap!!
I'm hoping he hasn't gone too early but we'll see what happens behind. 2 laps later a rider from Bissell, Jeremy Vennell, arrives and they hold their own lap after lap. The peloton is riding an easy tempo behind, but keeping the two riders off the front within striking distance if need be.
Tim is riding well, the announcer's are having a field day with his mustache and Im feeling like a proud mom. Stephan, Stefan, Scott, and Alec are in what's left of the peloton, though lap after lap there are fewer riders coming up the climb. With 5 laps to go the gap gets a little bigger going up to almost 30".
Each lap Im starting to think ....'what if'....but again, this is a pro race and my riders are racing at this level for the first time...2 have dropped out, one is struggling a tiny bit on his own to finish and I still have two in the peloton, though they are doing what they can to stay with the group.
With 2 laps to go the peloton lights up, the yellow jersey, what's left of the teams in the race step up the cadence and the break is reeled in....Rory Sutherland sprints up the climb like a mad man to take the win, with the yellow jersey (Jesse Antony) from Kelly Benefits, and 2nd place Bernard Van Ulden from Jelly Belly just behind. Mr Mustache had a wild ride and finished it off to take the Freewheel most aggressive rider's jersey and end our fun filled week with a fine performance. (pictured below)
So, the day was a bit of a shocker, have lost the rental car keys, and after picking apart my suitcase, backpack, the house were staying in....they can't be found.....fun to be had dealing with tow trucks before heading back home to Toulouse. I had a great week with the boys and look forward to this adventure next year!