While some of the team was racing down in Louisiana, the rest of us drove north to The Carpet Capital of the World, Dalton, GA, for the Dalton Gran Prix. Hank Beaver, Colby Millen, Wes Parrish, Matt McCarthy, Charles Rossignol, and our team attorney, Clay Parks would be representing team LITESPEED-BMW in the Saturday evening circuit race. It was to be a 1 hour race and the course was a 1.2 mile loop around Dalton High School. A very narrow lane lined by orange cones and a short, steep hill coming out of turn 2 were what the field was up against. Besides LITESPEED-BMW, the Team Type 1 Devo team (led by the one and only Daniel Holt), a few BMC Devo members, and PRO Phil Gaimon (Kenda) were all in attendence.
We knew this would be a fast race and that Phil Gaimon would be the guy to watch. Attacks started from the gun! Everybody did their best to be in all the moves. Somehow Phil Gaimon got away on his own and that would be the last the field would see of him (until he lapped us with 10 minutes to go). Around 15 minutes in, Hank was able to get himself into a 6 man chase group that would try and get up to Phil. Shortly after, Wes latched on to a rider from the Aerocat team and was able to take a free ride across the gap to Hank’s group. Just as they were about to make contact, Wes could tell the group wasn’t cooperating too well. After a quarter lap of no cooperation, the break was doomed and the field caught them.
There was immediately a counter-attack by Daniel Holt and A.J. Meyer (BMC Devo) that took about 8 other riders with them. Sadly, none from LITESPEED-BMW. Clay and Colby immediately started to chase, but with no help from the rest of the group, there’s only so much two riders can do against ten. With the end of the race approaching, we got Hank near the front of the group to try and salvage something out of the race. In the sprint for 12th place, Hank got a little boxed in on the extremely narrow road we were given for the finish and would come across the line in 14th place. Not the result we had hoped for coming into the race, but its a long season and there will be plenty more opportunities the rest of the year.
With some sting still lingering in the legs from the previous night’s crit, Hank Beaver and Chris Brown would be representing LITESPEED-BMW in the chilly morning road race over the rolling and twisting back roads of Dalton, GA. The 80 mile road race consisted of 4 laps over some large rolling hills with roads that twisted in all directions that provided the prefect scenario for a break-away. The course was hard enough to separate the men from the boys and with the limited slight visibility, the mental carrot needed to successfully chase down a break would not be there.
The race was fast from the gun, analogous to the start of a crit with many of the team trying to make a separation. Hank and Chris took turns covering attacks to ensure LITESPEED-BMW was represented in any threatening move until Chris followed an attack by Phil Gaimon(last night’s crit winner) to form a 10 man break with 2.5 laps to go.
Hank settled in the main group and conserved energy in case the break was brought back by the teams without a rider represented, while Chris cohesively contributed his share of the work to ensure the break was successful. That was until they were a few miles from the finish when risk of being caught was no more. Chris did his best to attack the break for the win but the group proved to be too strong for him to create a significant gap. Amazingly enough, he was able to quickly recover and still pull off a solid 5th.
As for Hank, he kept things in check until he mixed it up in the group sprint for 18th.
These races in February and March serve for good opportunities for get the rust off the legs from the winter and for the guys to get used to racing with each other again after a few months off. No doubt Chris and Hank’s 2012 season will be a good one as they get more racing days under their belts. The big races in the Southeast are coming up in the month of April and LITESPEED-BMW will be ready!