[Todd] It is Sunday and welcome to live coverage of the 4th and final stage of the Couri Insurance Stage race. This race started with a hill climb time trial on Friday before continuing on with a road race yesterday followed by an individual time-trial last night. A quick look at the standings as we start the final stage
1. Kris Wiatr Got Wind
2. Jim Barclay xXx racing +:05
3. Nicholas Hardt Chilkoot +:11
We will be taking you to live action soon but let’s join Bob Roll, Christian Vande Velde and Jens Voigt in studio to recap how we got here and analyze the GC contenders’ prospects.
[Bob] Well Jim Barclay put in a solid effort Friday night in the hill climb TT. Last year Rob Whittier won that stage with a time of 3:46 and when Barclay crossed the line at 3:48 he probably assumed he would be on the podium. But Nicholas Hardt came in a full 15 seconds faster at 3:33 and #2-4 were all bunched up at about the 3:43-46 mark. That left Barclay in 5th place. That’s a lot of time to make up especially with former pro and national crit champion winner Kris Wiatr finishing 2nd. That guy will undoubtedly be a force in the road races as he is a proven winner and absolutely devastating in a sprint.
[Christian] And Bob is absolutely right. That is a tall order especially because of all the competition around 1-5. Nick Hardt is a small climber-type who probably wouldn’t hold on to the lead in the road races or the flat TT but still… But then Barclay surprised everybody yesterday by not only coming in 3rd in the road race but also 2nd in the intermediate sprint point. In the past you never would have thought him much of a sprinter but, let me tell you, this year something is different. He’s learned a lot about sprinting from guys like Tyler George and Dave Hudson. Not to mention Tracy Dangott--who is really good at positioning in the finale. I know Jim has been working on his positioning and trying to conserve energy in the race. That is something you have to do--absolutely must do--if you have any chance of sprinting in the end. And did you guys notice this: in both of those sprints yesterday Barclay was actually accelerating through the line. He had something left in the tank. I personally think he needs to start his sprint earlier. He might not have the “jump” that someone like Wiatr has but he was definitely closing the gap on him. If he can make that adjustment--just time his sprint a little better--I think he can win.
[Todd] We are going to our “ask Bobke” segment now. “Monty” writes, “Dear Bobke, what is the deal with a stage race? How is it different from just an omnium?”
[Bob] Well Monty, a stage race is purely based on time--like all the grand tours. The person with the lowest total time wins the overall. Now in a shorter race like this, there are significant time bonuses given in the sprint points so it really pays to position well and sprint for those bonuses. The format really favors more of an all around rider--not just a TT guy, not just a sprinter but someone who can do it all reasonably well.
[Todd] But that said, Saturday night’s TT was a bit longer--4 miles--and really offered the best opportunity for someone to put time into his rivals. If anyone knows about suffering out there it’s Jens Voigt. Jensie, tell us what happened last night.
[Jens] Thanks Steve. What happened is Jim Barclay threw down the gauntlet and said “I have the best legs of all of you!” You know, he had done some TT’s earlier this spring and has really prepared for time in the “pain cave.” Not only that, he figured it would be about a 9:15-9:30 effort and knew exactly what kind of power he could do for that amount of time. When it was all said and done he clocked in at 9:19--a full 10 seconds faster than the next fastest rider. He absolutely destroyed that field and I think that, not only did that move him up solidly into #2 overall, it also gave him a lot of confidence. Sometimes when you are out there on a long breakaway and your legs are screaming at you, you need to have the confidence to know you belong on the top step--that your training has paid off and you can win. I think he has that now.
[Todd] Before we send you out on the road it’s time for our predictions for today’s stage win:
Paul Kris Wiatr--he’s a former pro and will deliver in the sprint.
Phil Nicholas Hardt--the uphill finish suits him
Jens Matt Wurz--he’s been riding strong all weekend but just hasn’t found the right combination. Today is his day.
Bob David Reddinger. Dave is 4th overall and a really strong rider. Barclay’s TT effort yesterday will come back to haunt him today. He will be lucky to finish with the field.
Christian I’m going to go with Jim Barclay. He’s been training all year for this--since being hospitalized last November with a staph infection. Back then he was off the bike for two whole months but has had laser-like focus in his comeback. All those hours in the gym, all those long rides out to Barrington, all those trainer sessions… Now is the time it pays off. He knows what he has to do and will get it done.
[Todd] And with that we send it out on the road for live coverage with Phil & Paul
[Phil] Well thank you Todd. It is just a perfect day for bike racing here in Delafield, WI. Alongside me is Paul Sherwin and right now the peloton is fast approaching the intermediate sprint point. Paul, what can you tell us about this course?
[Paul] Well Phil looking at the profile we see a mostly rolling course with a few opportunities to break up the field. However, I think this is going to come down to the sprint all the way. The top 5 GC contenders are all bunched up within about 12 seconds of each other so I doubt anything is going to get away. Both the intermediate and final sprints are on the same line--just before the I94 overpass. That’s a road the many of the local Chicago racers know as “the Edens expressway” But the leadup to the sprint is a nasty little climb the that then levels out to a false flat and I think that is where we will really see that cat set amongst the pigeons.
[Phil] And here they come, around the right hand corner and up the climb. Wiatr is second wheel and kicks at the top of the hill. Barclay follows him but can’t catch him and--oh my--gets pipped just at the line by Matt Wurz. So looking at the result Wiatr gets first with Barclay third. That pretty much solidifies the race results for the overall, barring some argy bargy. Wiatr should win the overall with Barclay finishing 2nd and Nick Hardt in 3rd. The have 3 laps to go which is a perfect time to go inside the race with Steve Porino. Steve, what can you tell us about the end of this race?
[Steve] Well you know Phil, I was just talking to the xXx team car and they are saying that even though Barclay has 2nd place overall wrapped up he still wants to go for the stage win. They say that he saw where Kris Wiatr jumped at the top of the hill and that they think he will have to go before that in order to beat him. It’s a tall order but--going back to what Christian was saying earlier--Barclay has a good, long sprint so they are hoping that is enough to hold off Wiatr and the others. One more thing: they told me that at least 5 other riders in the peloton have rolled up to Jim during the race and expressed their support--offering to help him in his effort should the situation arise. This is despite the fact that he has been racing all weekend long without any teammates in this race--it’s guys from other teams pledging their support for Jim. This is pretty cool and it’s a lesson for all you younger riders out there: it pays to be kind and gracious in your races--even when you don’t do well. You never know when the guy you congratulate may come back and offer to lead you out down the road.
[Phil] Well that is true Steve and it’s great to hear. The riders are seeing 1 to go now and the speed is really picking up. Both Wiatr and Barclay are in the top 5 wheels just protecting their position on the back side of the--oh there’s an attack!
[Paul] There’s an attack from one of the LAPT riders who is not in the overall. He has a gap but Kris Wiatr’s teammate is working to reel him back in. That tells me that Wiatr is also going for the stage win.
[Phi] The have just made a right turn and in about 1K they will see the final right turn into the finishing straight. They are single file now, Got Wind is on the front setting it up for their man, Kris Wiatr. But just behind him red, white and black jersey of xXx’s Jim Barclay, locked onto a rider from team Velocause and not letting Wiatr out of his site.
[Paul] Phil the field is riding riding at almost 45KPH--that’s 27mph in “old money.” In just a moment they will come around the final right turn and start to climb up the hill to the finish. Now it does flatten out somewhat after the steepest part for about 200m before the line but riders will have to time their sprint and not go too early or they will get swallowed up after the hill.
[Phil] And they’re through the final corner and headed up the climb, Wiatr 2nd wheel following his teammate and Barclay fourth wheel. And--what’s this? Barclay kicks halfway up the hill and comes around them all. Oh my goodness that is early! He’s over the hill with a gap but can he hold it? They come to the line--Wiatr was initially closing but now can’t seem to gain ground. Barclay is still out of the saddle!
[Paul] He is riding like a man possessed!
[Phil] And they come to the line and it is going to be Barclay first and Wiatr a bike length behind him! Barclay did a bike throw but didn't really need to--that's how badly he wanted the win!
[Paul] This man, Jim Barclay, just did the ride of his life. My hat’s off to him. Phil, I don’t think anyone imagined he would hold his sprint for that long after the initial kick. On this day he showed them that he has the what it takes to win a bike race.
[Phil] Well Paul, that he most certainly did.