Leon, Mexico – After a successful Tour of the Gila, I was soon on a flight to Leon, Mexico to compete in the Pan American Cycling Championships. Set to compete in the Under 23 Time Trial and then 2 days later jumping into the Elite Mens Road Race, I was motivated to come away with more UCI points. The race routes were challenging and similar to the Tour of the Gila, taking place at nearly 2,000m of elevation.
A few days after my arrival, it was already the Time Trial day. My first experience racing in South America did not disappoint with the TT course changing three times in the two days prior to the event. The Women’s race before ours started 30 minutes late and our own race started 5 minutes early!
Despite some good sensations in warmup, the length of the TT was a bit of a shock and I made the mistake of going out quite a bit too hard. Disappointed to finish 7th and 3 seconds out of a few UCI points, I was quite motivated to rebound well in the Road Race.
Again the Road Race course was uncertain until the day of the race. When we arrived at the course, we discovered it was a 9km hotdog circuit with 4.5 km of climbing and 4.5 km of descending with a decided lack of flat road and one of the hardest courses I have ever raced on. With 163 km on tap, the first 5 of 18 laps were raced conservatively with true attacks beginning on the 6th lap.
One lap later, a large group of 10 was able to sneak away on the descent. Realizing this was a dangerous move to be left out of, my Canadian teammates set me up to bridge across solo. Escaping from the pack, I made a big effort and joined the group near the top of the climb, already at maximum when I caught the group, I had to hang on to the top before recovering on the descent.
With 100 km still left in the race, the group worked well together at times and launched attacks against each other at other times. Staying nearly intact heading into the final ascent, the breakaway rode the first half of the climb conservatively before the haymakers flew with a kilometer to go.
The challenging finish at nearly 10% gradient quickly separated the top 10 riders. With everyone at their maximum, the finale wasn’t so much a sprint as a drag. Through the finish the top riders were all separated by 10 seconds each. I was able to come away with 5th place, an accomplishment I was happy with after stepping up to the elite race against a strong field with many high profile riders.
After some rest and recovery, I look forward to rejoining my H&R Block Pro Cycling teammates for Phase II of our season.
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