While my Category 3 race didn’t go so well, it turned out to be a great weekend — and series, for that matter. Thomas Smith and Phil Ball continued their podium dominance in the River Falls race. The POA Cycling Masters Team swept the podium for the series omnium.
When I walked up to the tent where my teammates typically hang out, I found Blair Lemarche working on someone’s leg. As I got closer I found it was Darin Marhanka. That didn’t bode well. I was hoping there wasn’t a pile up that had taken out more of our guys.
Darin explained that it was just a matter of a single rider in front of him standing to accelerate and having his front wheel wash out from under him. His wipe out took Darin with him causing Darin to pick up a some road rash. What a hard day for Darin to ride in this mess just to get taken out.
We still had Thomas Smith, Phil Ball, Phil Humbert, Jae Bowen, and Mark Caskey. As I sat there talking with Blair and Darin, the announcer alerted us that the leaders were approaching the start/finish. I turned to see who it would be.
I saw Thomas leading another rider (who turned out to be veteran racer, Jacob McGahey) to the line with Phil Ball several meters behind them. There was some confusion because Thomas thought that it was the finish. Unfortunately, he now had to turn in another lap!
This happened because the Masters racers were out on the course at the same time as the Women. The women had their final lap called around the time that the Masters were coming through for their penultimate lap. I’m sure they hated to know they were going to have to do another lap in the nasty weather we were experiencing!
Next came Phil Humbert leading the pack to the line. Jae was there and then Mark came across later. It was pretty obvious that unless Thomas and Phil had mechanical issues we were going to have a chance at a 1-2 finish. However, Blair commented that McGahey would be a hard nut to crack.
I didn’t get to see the finish. Well, I did, but I couldn’t tell what happened. I was trying to take a finish line photo with my iPhone. As you can tell from the photo above, the iPhone isn’t the best platform for taking action photos!
Jacob McGahey crossed the line first with a comfortable lead. I couldn’t tell who was second because the next person I saw after looking up from the iPhone was Phil Ball. I was afraid that perhaps Thomas had wrecked.
I went over to Hank McCullough, who was waiting to take the course for the Masters 45+ race, and asked him if Thomas was in the finish. “Yes,” he let me know, “Thomas came across in second.” That means that once again Thomas and Phil got in a break together and finished on the podium.
It was exciting to gather with the team after the race. Even though Thomas and Phil were shivering from the cold and their effort, they had huge smiles on their faces. In between the back slaps and wringing of water out of clothing, each rider explained the events of the race. Everyone was sharing in the joy of success.
Phil Humbert summed it up well when he said, “It feels great to be part of such a strong team. No matter who is in the break, I know the others are killing themselves to help the team succeed. It’s gonna be a good year!”
At the end of the day the team took 2nd – Thomas, 3rd – Phil B., 5th – Phil H., and 6th – Jae. Mark finished outside the top 10 in 13th. The better news was that the team was now holding the top three positions in the omnium for the series with 1st – Thomas, 2nd – Jae, and 3rd – Rodney. With one day of racing to go, it was looking good.
On Sunday, it turns out that only 6 racers took the line in the Masters 35+ race. It was 45 degrees, rainy, and winds up to 15 mph. After Saturday, it is hard to blame them! The result was that there were no omnium challengers in the final race.
So ended the first series campaign for the POA Cycling Master Team. It is going to be an interesting year. If the spirit of the team remains as strong as it has started out, I feel for those coming up against them.
As good as they boys have been so far, there is still more to learn as we race together. The team dynamics are only going to get better. You could tell by the way the guys were debriefing after the race that it will come together.
Yeah, Phil, it is going to be a good year!