Words by Matt Nunnelly Photography by Erica & Jay Robbins
After a much-too-early morning, the Ride Studio Team (Jay, Alex, and Oscar and myself for the men, Celia for the women) drove up to Moretown, VT for the second stage of the Green Mountain Stage Race. On tap for today was around 72 miles in a circuit. The race began on a neutral climb to the KOM, then turned downhill for a fast and open descent to some rolling terrain. We cruised through some small scenic towns and farmland before turning south again for the sprint/finish line.
There aren't too many large teams here, so we figured we would be able to do a little more than an individual rider would. The nature of the course seemed like it would lend itself to a late-race, high powered escape, or a field sprint. I stayed towards the front all day, but had no interest in contesting the KOM. When it came time to sprint for the points jersey, Alex gave me a superb leadout to take a very easy, effortless 3rd. We've finally started to hit our true rhythm as a team after some solid results in the past few weeks.
Unfortunately, Jay flatted on the 3rd lap, but was able to chase back on quickly with the help of neutral support and a positive can-do attitude. Around the same time, Oscar initiated the most substantial breakaway of the day, with 4 other riders. This was super nice for the rest of us, as it allowed us to sit easy in the pack and allow others to do the chasing. They stayed away for a whole lap of the circuit. After the sprint line, some of the riders sat up and others were cooked. Oscar burned off a few others, and was within a few seconds of getting caught before he dug deep and extended his advantage for another good while.
With about 10 miles to go, it was all together. I was looking for Oscar and Jay to police the front, with Alex to lead me out and hopefully get some GC time bonus in the sprint.
With probably about 4k to go, a lone rider escaped off the front. We were too far back and caught in the pack to chase him down, so he stayed away. Within a kilometer to go, I was glued to Alex's wheel. The speed was perfect, but due to the yellow line rule and a miscommunication we waited a little bit too long to open up the sprint and I had to settle for 7th, just a bit outside of the GC time bonus. The majority of the field ended together, so there wasn't much of a GC shakeup, though I'm now sitting 18th overall, still at 1:09 off the leader. We all rode incredibly well as a team today, and had a fairly solid result. I'm confident that with a little more riding together, we'll know exactly what to do all the time. Tomorrow is the "queen" stage, with a gnarly climb up App Gap and a mountaintop finish. Hopefully we'll be able to put something together and move far up the GC.
Celia had a very unfortunate day. After a strong TT yesterday she began the race sitting 2nd in GC. The women's 3/4 field was shorter than the men's race so they only had one intermediate sprint. Apparently after the sprint, some of the racers sat up, stopped paying attention, and caused a crash that took Celia down. She was unharmed (as was her bike). Unfortunately, she had a slow leak that she didn't notice until after the follow cars had passed her. She had to ride on a very soft tire for a very long time before she got a spare wheel. She did finish the stage, but is now about an hour back on GC. She's maintained an awesome attitude, and is now focused on throwing down on App Gap. Wish her luck!
It's less than awesome weather up in Vermont, but spirits are still high, and we're excited about hitting the mountains tomorrow!
Have fun be safe!
Additional photos from today can be found here.