Tour de Greenwich 2015
Sunday September 14, 2014
by: Dominic Stobart
This 20 mile sprint through the back roads of Greenwich CT is without doubt my favorite race of the season. The rolling course is fast, technical and challenging. It’s also spectacularly beautiful – not that anyone has time to enjoy the scenery. I've ridden the tour the past two years and clocked 57 minutes in my first outing and improved to 52 minutes last year. My 2015 target was to do another PB and get a top 20 place.
Throughout the year I have been training on the various sections of the course, checking my efforts against Strava, analyzing every hill and descent and thinking about tactics and positioning. By race day I could safely say that I knew the road as well as anyone. In the end I think that prior knowledge proved decisive.
The race started fast at the foot of a short steep hill. As the road kicked up the riders bunched together. We were a mass of whirring carbon, metal and flesh. Inches apart the tiniest deviation would have caused a crash. The road bore to the left. But I knew that. In fact I knew the road so well that I didn’t feel that I needed to devote any mental energy to studying it at all. I could just concentrate on my positioning in the pack confident that I knew exactly what the road was going to do. A long rolling section followed that went steadily up hill. I tried to keep to the front. As we climbed I would drop back a little and then make up the places on the short descents.
About 10 miles in we hit the high point of the course – the aptly named Burying Hill Road. It’s not long but it is steep. At the start of the climb the gradient rears up to almost 20%. The pain really comes as the pitch eases up but doesn’t quite level off. In fact it keeps climbing steadily for almost another half mile. Last year this is where I lost contact with the lead group. Up ahead the pack was splintering. A lead group had broken away leaving riders scattered all over the road. I was losing contact again but I made a conscious decision to keep myself out of the red zone instead I tried to recover a little and then try to get back on. A trio of riders went past me and I saw my chance. I latched on the back of the chasing group and let them drag me to the top of the hill. As we crested I felt a surge of confidence. I knew I had done enough. Whatever happened I would be finishing with this chasing pack and for sure we would put in a good time.
I love descending. My knowledge of the road ahead meant that I could hit the downhills hard and use my momentum on the few short climbs that remained. After a couple more short rollers the climbing section was over leaving a fast 7 mile run into the finish. It's a long straight road making it ideal for a pace line but almost impossible to launch an escape.
At a mile to go one of the riders in the line took off and together with another racer I gave chase. I had a feeling that the move was too early and I was right. We reeled him in and the bunch came back together.
As we approached the penultimate bend, a very very sharp right turn, I could hear race marshalls shouting for us to slow down. Amazingly the riders in front of me backed off a little leaving me enough room to bomb through again on the inside.
There were about two hundred yards until the final turn into the finish. There was no choice in the matter - if I was going to win the sprint I would have to lead it out. I held a high tempo and hit the final turn super fast skimming the apex, coming out wide and then straightening up. The line was still about 500 yards away. I kept my head up all the way, never looked back once and emptied the tank. I gave it everything. The line reared up in front of me and I crossed ahead of the rest of the chasers. My final position was 17th with a time of 50 minutes and 48 seconds. It was a great feeling.
That’s it for the season for me. A big thank you to Mark and all at Twin Six for letting me ride on the team. I hope to be back for more in 2015.