The 2007 episode of Battenkill-Roubaix was contested by a 25-strong junior field. Several prominent east coast kids were present: Bethel series leader Bob German of CCNS and Ryan Barlow of ACT, as well as CRCA JrDev’s grizzled veteran Lewis Almonte, and Ian “Embedded Journalist” Harris . Rounding off the team were road racing newbies Khary Ward, Liam Quigley and Evan Cooper. CRCAJrDev’s 2006 Battenkill victor Pascual Caputi has been on the bench all season with knee problems and the remainder of the category three squad -Connor Sallee and Graham Lang- was absent for SAT prep .
The action was schizophrenic in a way unique to junior racing; the field would be blown apart on the climbs as the stronger more experienced riders pushed the pace, and then come to crawl on the flats, allowing for a general regrouping. Indeed the junior field, embarrassingly, had the slowest overall time of any field on the course, including the Category Five Masters 45+, and the Category Four Women. Evan Cooper reported “we were going, like, 15 miles an hour at some points”.
“I got dropped five times and got back on five times,” said a satisfied Ian Harris when it was all over.
The yo-yo effect was too much for Liam and Khary who had never experienced a course like Battenkill, either in training or racing (see their reports below). Liam and Khary wrote their own solo epics, finishing many minutes down.
At the head of the race a twelve-rider group stayed together until the final climb where Ian Harris was the last to get popped. Harris finished tenth, 44 seconds behind eventual winner Bob German.
On the final downhill run-in to the town of Salem Almonte put in a last minute attack, splitting the remaining group of nine; but the move was too little too late. Evan Cooper covered the pursuit as the two Colavita riders in the split chased Almonte down, resulting in all nine riders coming to the line together. Almonte couldn’t recover in time to launch a proper sprint and finished fifth, with Cooper just behind him.
Director Sportif Craig Cook was pleased with their performance until he saw their final overall speed. “These are guys who could be top ten in the Category Three field which rode the circuit 28 minutes faster!” Cook said. “I think there was a lot of negative racing in between the climbs. We had three riders in the lead group, we should not have let that happen. In general I expect more proactive racing from the guys.”
Still, with 5th, 6th and 10th places at the end of the day and all five riders finishing, it was not a bad showing for one of the hardest circuits in the New York area.
Lewis and Evan respond to pressure from CBRC’s Mackenzie Wilsey as the field passes through Cambridge.
“For me this was not so much a race as it was a test of just how long it takes you to finish a 55 mile course after 4 hours of sleep and 2 weeks off the bike. A few sections of the road early on were full of holes – these areas were easy to identify from afar by the water bottles strewn across the course. I stopped seeing other riders . The only way I knew I was in a race was from the tossed water bottles and gel packs on the road every few hundred feet.“- Liam Quigley
“CRCA Junior Development Team Director and Coach Craig Cook told me before the race that ? the first ten miles or so will be warm up miles, they have to be idiots to be riding hard? After like 3 miles riders were already pushing the pace on the first real climbs and I wasn’t physiologically prepared for these efforts. I thought to myself what did I get myself into. At mile 7 I felt as though I completed a Cat.5 prospect Park race. After the first couple long steep climbs I was really feeling it , was tired and thought ohh I’ve been riding for a long time this race must be over soon. I look at my odometer and it says 24 miles, not even half way, I wanted to cry and call my Mommy to come pick me up!
The last 20 miles or so I worked with a Coltavita Sutter Home junior named Chris and we diligently worked hard together trying to finish this race. Looking up the road seeing what?s coming next we were literally swearing at some of the climbs. Its better to suffer with someone else(laugh). This was by far the most pain and suffering I’ve ever experienced in 4 hours. After the race my teammate on Team Organic Athlete, based on his Computer, said that we’ve completed a little over 4,700 feet of climbing. That?s a colossal figure for me given that I’ve never did even a quarter of that figure before, even during my most intense training. Although at times I felt that I was going to pass out on some climbs or roll over and die I am glad I did this race. As a matter of fact when I was gasping for breath on the 1 miles climb going like 2-4 mph I saw a couple of riders walking their bikes up the hill. I’ve only seen that on TV on Paris-Roubaix. All in all “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?. I did this race for the experience, now I know what real competition is. I don’t know how to thank Craig Cook enough for this type of exposure.” – Khary Ward