Article JBCF 2 Days in Gunma – Stage 2

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#1
Prologue;

My son and I stayed in a rather amazing Ryokan on the Saturday, this place had O2 capsules, full sports therapy massage and other facilities for athletes, looking at it from the outside you wouldn’t know it and we came across it completely by accident. I will certainly make full use of its facilities next time I’m racing in Gunma.

The evening meal was amazing, a full Japanese banquette that had me gasping for breath before I had even managed to consume even half of it, but force feeding is a trick most racing cyclist learn early on.

We woke up to more foul weather, again it was on a slow cycle of rain, snow and sun but the weather gods had decided to throw strong blustery winds in to the mix for good measure.

Setting out to the course at 6am I was praying we would be able to get a parking spot in the main car park rather than in the secondary area that is a bit of a trek, especially with a 5 year old in tow.

The gods were obviously smiling on me as we got the very last space and I settled in to the usual routine of hurry up and wait as I already had my race number and RFID.

Stage 2

It was bloody freezing; I was wise to pack my Champion System thermal bib shorts that have a micro fleece lining, not only that but I also had my Champion System Warm Up tights that have full zips running up each leg that can be removed in an instant, so while I was toasty warm my competitors were complaining of the cold and mentally willing the marshals to get the peloton rolling.

Eventually will pulled out of the neutral zone and up to the line, off came all my warm gear and immediately I understood how the others felt but the wait was short lived and the starts gun fired. Again it would be a case of defending my position during the neutral rolling start and there is a type of battle within the peloton to move as close to the front as quick as you can before the marshals let us lose on each other.

I defended my position well and remained in the first 10 wheels – there was a bit of pushing and shoving but a few choice words make it very clear that I wasn’t letting anyone in.

The marshals realized we were ready to go as the peloton had remained intact and he let us loose much earlier than on stage 1, straight away there were attacks and my good friend and ex team mate Goji Kawamura rolled his eyes at me as if to say “Really? Come on!” Both of us pulled to the side of the road and allowed the more naive to try and chase the loan rider down. Needless to say he sat up 500m down the road with a look of bewilderment on his face that nobody had bothered to join him and he was soon swallowed by the gaping maws of the peloton.

The pace settled in very quickly with yesterdays main contenders up front, so the pace was blisteringly fast again especially now the course had dried up and we were adamant that we would not allow any fresh faced riders who had joined only for today to get a look in.

There was the usual cat and mouse games but things got serious when one team pushed 4 riders to the front, I looked around to see who would respond and the pretty much the whole front of the peloton realized the danger, blocking moves were set up and things got shut down before they even began and a collective sigh of relief was let out. More attacks from a hand full of riders and it looked like one was going to stick, however they seemed reluctant to work together.

As we passed through the finishing line for the final lap the pace increased and it became harder and harder to stay at the front as more riders pushed through. I continued to defend my position and had to scold a few riders that were not keeping their lines and riding erratically in a 100 plus strong peloton, the last thing I needed was to be brought down by a rider who was on the ropes and hanging on for dear life as my legs were feeling fantastic as the final climb and the inevitable charge for the lines loomed ever closer.


I started to push forward as the gradient increased, marking a few riders I thought had the legs to make an attack and again it was one of my old team mates that seized the opportunity, just before the nasty switch back he launched his attack breaking clear. “Should I go, should I go???? GO! “ but those few seconds were crucial and although I punched clear of the peloton I was a marked man and pulled several other riders with me. Up, Up, Up and over the worst of it and well clear of the charging peloton. However my procrastination was soon to be my down fall, I had brought with me 7 other riders all of whom were very content to let me pull them to the line.

It was no use with the furious headwind my tailing riders passed me and launched their own attacks, they almost came undone when a gust scattered them and almost caused a collision and we screamed through the line in a blur with me on the back taking 8th.

Lesson learnt

After the race a lot of the riders that had hitched a lift came and shook my hand admitting that they knew if I went it was my wheel they would take and although it can be very crushing its part of the game and I love it.

As for me I was left kicking myself I knew I had left it too late and that if I had jumped immediately then I would have had a much higher chance of getting a podium finish. However this was over shadowed by the great performance I had put in over 2 days and by the learning experience. My plan had worked perfectly given the odd mishap which is unavoidable but also that it gave me an additional 25 points for the season and putting me in 16th place in the JET series with 60 points in total.
Next stop Tour of Japan Osaka Sekai Stage