Last Saturday 7 members of LITESPEED-BMW lined up at 11am for the 90 mile Georgia Games Road Race, which also served as the Georgia State Championship. Since this was a Pro/1/2 field, we were looking to get both the Category 1 and Category 2 jerseys. It would be a tall order, but the boys were up to the challenge. We had Anders Swanson, Hank Beaver, Chris Chotas, Wes Parrish, Artur Sagat, Chad Madan, and Benjy Coil all ready to brave the 96 degree temperatures that mother nature had in store for us! It would be a long, hot day, but we had some help in the feed zone to keep us hydrated every lap (thanks Caroline and Peter!). Five laps of a rolling 18 mile loop were about to begin!
About 2 miles into the race, Chad decided to make the first move. He had hoped somebody would come with him to share some of the work, but it was not to be. Chad immediately got about a 30 second gap and would keep that for the next 5 or 6 miles. Finally a few riders upped the pace and brought him back into the peloton. After a brief chat with Hank, Chad decided to go again. This time about 5 other riders came with. This group of 6 would work together and end up staying away for the next 25 miles or so. After a long chase by the peloton (90% of the work being done by strongman Jan Kolar), these guys would be brought back a few miles from the end of lap two.
Coming through the end of the second lap with 54 miles to go, AJ Meyer attacks through the feed zone, immediately splitting the group of 50 racers a part. Picking their way through the scattered field, Hank, Chris and Artur chased back on to what was the rest of the main group. At this point, AJ Meyer and a few others were already up the road 15 seconds with the gap quickly growing. Hank jumped across to the break and the six of them immediately began taking up their share of the work. They were riding strong and the break had all but one team represented, so they knew that it would be difficult for the chase group to catch them.
For the next 30 miles or so they continued working well in the break but by now the weaker riders were showing signs of wear. Hank could tell AJ Meyer and Casey Magner would be the ones he’d have to beat to win.
A few miles out from the start of lap 4, Artur and Brendan Cornett bridged up to them from the chase group. Now with Artur in the break it gave us an advantage which AJ and Casey didn’t like too much. So, AJ and Casey started to attack which Artur and Hank easily covered and subsequently dropped the weaker riders from the group. After a brief chat, they decided that Artur would do more work and Hank would sit in as much as possible to conserve as much for the finish.
5 miles to go, the break is 5 strong with everybody rotating except for Artur. He takes a longer turns on the front and as we get closer he takes up the leadout with Hank on his wheel. Artur pulls off and its down to Hank, AJ and Brendan Cornett. Hank jumped as hard as possible with 200 meters to go and the two of them just came around him with 50 meters to go. Hank picked up 3rd which was silver for the GA Cat 1 RR state champs!! Artur was able to roll across the line just behind for 5th place.
Meanwhile, Anders had escaped what was left of the main group with about 30 miles to go and would come across in 6th place, almost catching the leaders! Over the last two laps Benjy and Wes had patrolled the main group and would end up coming home in 13th and 16th places. Although we just missed out on the win (and the jersey), the team rode extremely well and ended up placing 5 riders in the top 16, so not a bad day!