Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Espoirs Central does World Road Championships

Hello all,

I was on the fence about going to Richmond but around mid-August, I bit the bullet and decided that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have the World Championships so close. Under 4 hours driving made it pretty convenient for missing work and it wasn't too much of a hassle coming back on Sunday night. I wish I had planned it out a bit better as the last weekend we were a few miles out of town and had to drive in each day but for being the first time spectating over such a long period, it was nice.

Now, this trip was more about being a fan than anything. I was thinking about applying for media credentials and trying to get interviews but I didn't want to stress about it. Walking around and feeling the environment was enough for me...this time.

We (being my girlfriend and I) rolled in on Sunday for the team time trials and were slightly lost having never been to the city before and the road closures were...something. I got quite a bad sunburn and my face proceeded to shed a layer of skin over the next 5 days.

The bikes of TTT winners BMC. Except they used Lightweight disc wheels instead of the Shimano Pro discs
Following a lovely dinner at Penny Lane Pub and an interesting night at our historic accommodations, which featured a room that was freezing (60F inside when we woke up but 70F outside). Under gloomy skies, we headed down to watch the junior women and U23 men time trials. First time ever spectating a time trial and it was...okay. The weather certainly wreaked havoc on the later waves on the U23 riders but Espoirs Central picked the first two steps of the podium with Mads Würtz Schmidt and Max Schachmann. Würtz Schimdt looked incredible on his TT bike with his back parallel to his top tube and churning a huge gear steadily. Even in the rain, Lennard Kämna just had the look of a champion on the bike. He will be scary good as he continues to build experience.
Soren Kragh Andersen's bike with a Lightweight disc. MWS machine is to the left
Marlen Zmorka crossing the line. He was on the naughty list after he ran into a lady while riding on the sidewalk. My girlfriend was cheering against him all week after hearing about that move.
Following the U23 TT, we had to get out of dodge so that I could get back to work. Well, I did have back spasms on the way back home that make for one of the worst car trips of my life. Following work on Thursday, we made it back down and stayed on the outskirts of Richmond by the Russian and Slovakian National Teams.

Our hotel was right next to this wonderful corporation
Friday was the junior women's and Men U23 RR. Like a sponge, I was just trying to soak in the atmosphere. The junior women's event was quick but damn, it Chloe Dygert intense. Blew everyone out of the water in both the TT and RR. 

Best. Sweater. Ever.
Somewhere in that scrum is Merhawi Kudus

I wasn't in the best viewing positions for the U23 race as I stuck around Governor's street for the majority of the race. I was in awe of the Eritrean support that had turned out in Richmond. Washington D.C. has a large East African population but I heard one guy talk about how he and his family of 35(!!!) came down from New York for this. They might come from a nation that is currently fucked beyond repair but they are some of the most proud people I have ever met.

I made my opinion of the U23 winner known. No skin of Ledanois' back. The French played some beautiful tactics at the end but why should professionals be contesting a race for development riders? The Pro Continental line in the sand is so arbitrary. If you want to let everyone in the U23 Worlds, then let's get the guys under from the WT in the race then. Caleb Ewan, Magnus Cort, Tiesj Benoot...come on down and take a jersey you won't even wear. Yet, I digress...

I do have to say that I felt for Simone Consonni. His sprint for 2nd place was incredible thanks to Gianni Moscon's leadout, which wasn't helped by the stalling tactics of Anthony Turgis. Consonni needed just 10 meters and he would have been the World Champion. He was a mix of rage, sadness and missed opportunity on the podium.
Perhaps it was due to my location in the U23 RR but one of my highlights of the weekend was the junior men's RR. These kids were going for broke from the beginning and giving it 100% the whole time. I was planted on 23rd St. and the climb was absolutely fantastic. I blame Adrien Costa for losing my voice. Felix Gall's move was impressive and to see him hold off everyone on the brutal finale was some thing special.

The women's race was good but I wish I stayed on 23rd St. instead of walking around the course. The descent off 23rd was a white-knuckled affair that I could have watched all day long. We saw the final couple of laps on Governor St and Armitstead put in his late attack right in front of us before taking the sprint for the win. Her win was followed up by some fantastic BBQ while sitting near some Italian photographers, including one rather large one that ate a portion big enough for three people.
Ivan Stevic decided to rear his ugly Serbian head in the Elite Men's RR and make it into the breakaway that included some damn good and admirable riders in Ben King and Connor Dunne. As you can see in the above video, I finally got to verbalize my hatred for him. Every fucking lap he went by, I yelled to him. Then he does his fucking parade lap and takes bows and blows kisses to everyone before pulling out. Dickhead. Rumor has it that he is hanging up the wheels and I hope it is the truth.

Of course on the longest race of the week, we were stuck next to some annoying Colombians who were obnoxious, filming everything & sticking their phones in my girlfriend face and ended up littering all of their stuff from the day. Douchebags, the lot of them.

The race itself got better as the day went off. The atmosphere on the climb was quite electric and when both Phinney and Farrar tried moves in the finale, people were screaming their heads off. Beers were flowing and it was hard to have a bad time. I'm convinced that Gatis Smukulis has the best legs in the peloton. My lungs burned watching some guys hold on for grim death including Sam Bennett, John Degenkolb and Nacer Bouhanni. And Sagan? That dude is a showman. When he shows up, his talent is off the fucking charts. I used to get annoyed with him winning but now I'm enjoying it.

There was so much more but I definitely felt like I could have stayed in that bubble for weeks on end. much is it going to cost to try and get to Bergen for 2017?

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