Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Masters Road Nationals, Criterium

More Hardware for Vic's!

Sunday, August 8th brought the 2010 Masters Road National Championships to a close with the running of the final criteriums on a fast riverside course on the streets of downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana. Mike Newsome and Joe Paulson had hung around Louisville, Kentucky for an additional three days in order to contest the criteriums, and they were itching to go.

Mike was up first in the 55-59 race with a 1:00 PM start time for 40 laps totaling 25 miles on the .6 mile rectangular course. Mike jumped out quickly from the start, with former national champions Dave Leduc and Gordon Paulson on his wheel. The first half of the race was animated by these three riders fighting to break free of each other. Their standoff was broken when another rider collided with Mike on the front straight, breaking a spoke in Mike's front wheel. Fortunately, the pit was right there, but Leduc seized the opportunity to escape with another rider.

When Mike was inserted back into the field after his free lap, he quickly worked his way back up to the front of the field, and started to chase the break, assisted only by Paulson. After several laps of chasing, Mike launched off the front of the field with two laps remaining in a final effort to chase the leaders down. At that point, Paulson was so spent the he pulled out of the race.

On the last lap, Mike's efforts finally brought the field back to the break as they came down the front straight, and even after all his efforts to chase, Mike was able to hold on for the 5th and final podium spot against all the fresh legs in the pack, and Leduc ended up in 14th.

Combined with Mike's previous 5th place in the time trial, his two podium rides earned him 5th place in the Best All Around Rider competition for 2010!

Next it was Joe's turn in the 2:30 PM 50-54 race, also contested over 40 laps. Joe lined up in the back next to multi-time national and world champion Thurlow Rogers, determined to follow him if he escaped up the road. Several early break attempts went nowhere, so Joe conserved energy in the back until an attack by Rogers strung out the field and shed several riders.

It turned out that Joe was marking the wrong Amgen rider, because Thurlow's teammate Malcolm Hill (also a former national champion) escaped up the road with Gerald Finken of the Saint Paul Bicycle Racing Club. With Rogers blocking effectively, the pack was now racing for 3rd place as the pace picked up for the final several laps.

Three more riders attacked off the front with two laps to go, and the pack watched the final podium spots dangling up the road as riders fought to maintain position at the front while hoping others would chase the three late escapees down. As the bell rang for the final lap, they were still off the front as Joe fought to avoid being swarmed down the front straight. Fighting back to the outside on the back straight, Joe saw Bill Pedler of the Schwab team coming past. Before the race, Bill had suggested trying to work together, and he glanced back, seeming to invite Joe aboard.

Bill closed half the distance to the 3rd-5th place riders before being jumped entering the second to last corner. Joe jumped also, and banged elbows with Rogers in a mad dash for position into the final corner just as they were catching the riders ahead. Joe got pinched on the inside by the riders being caught, and three other riders got clean lines on the outside to emerge onto the front straight ahead of him. Lighting the afterburners, Joe was able to chase two of them back down, but ran out of room before the line and ended up 2nd in the field sprint for 4th place in the race, Joe's first podium at Nationals! His result also earned him enough points to finish 10th in the Best All-Around Rider competition. All told, a very satisfying day for the boys in blue!

After the awards ceremony, Mike and Joe hit the road. After a brief stop for their traditional White Castle refueling, they headed west, and are currently 110 miles from Saint Louis. The plan is to drive through the night, and try to make it home by mid-day tomorrow. It's been a fun and successful trip to Louisville, but the boys are ready to return home.

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