La-Z-Boy Cycling Team at the Tri-Peaks Challenge
The Tri-Peaks Challenge is an NRC race that takes place in Russellville, Arkansas. The race has 5 stages consisting of 3 road stages, a time trial, and a crit. The road stages showcase climbs up Mt. Magazine, Petit Jean Mountain, and Mt. Nebo. Information on the race can be found at www.tri-peaks.org
The first day of racing was fairly
uneventful. The opening road stage started and finished on top of Mt. Magazine
and began with a 17km decent, hitting speeds of up to 89km/h. The stage was
97km long with a few good poppers. A small group got away near the end with
representation from all of the big teams, so the final climb didnít get too
crazy. Rob, T-Con, Hopping and myself finished in the pack with Trace just a
few minutes back. Jamie came down with the flu and was unable to start the race.
Stage two was a long one. 157km was the total distance and there were a lot of short climbs and descents. With about 70km to go HealthNet drove a train at the front for the rest of the race. There was a super long and sketchy decent before the short climb to the finish. The pack got shattered and everyone rolled in with small gaps. All of our guys finished in the ďpackĒ.
The third day was a double day with the Crit in the morning. It started off fast, but we all maintained good positioning near the front. There was an early break of two riders, and when Toyota and HealthNet decided to chase it down, the field completely exploded. There was a steady stream of riders falling off, which eventually ended up forming the main pack. The break had been whittled down to about 25 guys and Toyota threw down a sick train for Ivan Stevic, who took the win quite handily. Our guys rode super strong, but didnít quite have the legs to hold on to the pace. Hopping took second in the pack sprint and the rest of us rolled in. The Time Trial took place in the evening on the same day. It was hot, and there was very little wind. The course was flat and was 8.5km from start to finish with no turn around. Being the pure time trialist that I am, I put in a solid warm-up and rode as hard as I could, and loved every minute of it. I ended up 85th, which bumped me up to 69th place in the GC. The ride of the day went to Rob. He hammered out a 5th place finish, beating Chris Baldwin of Toyota by a millisecond. We're all super pumped for him, and looking back I can only imagine, if he would have been hung-over, he might have even won it!
The 5th and final stage was 110km, with a climb about 25km into the race, and a mountain top finish up Mt. Nebo. It is one of the most challenging climbs I have ever seen, and is considered to be one of the toughest finishes in North America. Nebo is 3.5miles from bottom to top with an average of 18% grade and has 11 switchbacks. The good luck we had been having all week finally caught up to us. Hopping suffered a flat early, and never managed to catch back on. There was a bit of chaos in the first feed zone, when the HealthNet feeder jumped out to hand off a musette bag, and without paying attention walked right in front of T-Trace. Tyler hit the dude, and then hit the pavement. He was pretty bunged up and was bleeding from just about everywhere. He had to get five stitches in his elbow, but heís a trooper, heís on the mend, and heíll be good to go for Provincials in a couple of weeks. Later on in the race Trevor was involved in a crash, but somehow managed to land in the grass and roll down into the ditch. He was able to chase back on and finish the race, but many of the guys involved had to abandon. As we were approaching the base of Nebo, Rob had a mechanical. One of his spokes exploded and he needed a new wheel. As you may know, neutral service isnít always the quickest service. I pulled over and gave Rob my wheel and I waited for a new one. Rob chased all the way to Nebo and passed most of the field on the climb. He finished in 24th, only 1:50 down. Iím positive that if he could have started the climb in the pack, he could have definitely had another top 5 finish, butÖ s--t happens! That ride put him into 26th in the GC, pretty impressive for his first NRC!
Overall the team rode extremely
well. It was a solid weekend of racing and perfect prep for our upcoming races.
We have the SFU BC Cup on the 27th, Westside Classic BC Provincials
on the 3rd, and then off to the Tour of Beauce.
Thanks for tuning in,