by David Kirkpatrick, Features Editor
Of the many
things that more experienced and successful racers have to teach,
pre-race mental preparation and post-race analysis are two of the less
appreciated aspects. As an experiment, GamJams will periodically
solicit a pre- and post-race analysis from members of the peloton who
we wish we had more chances to learn from. The pre-race portion is
written and sealed prior to racing. After the race, the subject will
debrief the race and compare the events and outcomes to his or her
predictions and prognostications.
Coming off an excellent third place at Jeff Cup, Blair Berbert from Kelly Benefits Strategies/LSV Amateur Racing takes us behind the curtain for the Good, Bad and Ugly of the KBS/LSV approach to and execution of the 2010 Tour of Walkersville.
Walkersville tends to play out a little differently than Jeff Cup. For one, the season is officially underway and it always seems like there are fewer start-of-the-season jitters as the pack rolls out. Also though, the course and the size of the field come into play. The most decisive feature of the Walkersville course can be the wind. 2009 saw very strong winds coming across the course, being especially tough in the section immediately after the feed hill, where riders were being shoved pretty hard into the right gutter (which ultimately caused several crashes). The weather can't always be counted on to deliver the wind, however, so the most consistent course feature would have to be the yellow line, which comes especially as a shock after having the whole road to move around on at Jeff Cup. Walkersville does have a smaller field limit than Jeff Cup, but the yellow line still makes positioning extremely important. Being 20 guys back at Walkersville is a very different situation than being 20 back at Jeff Cup, and the former position won't really allow you to race when the moves start going.
The race will generally play out as most MABRA races will - tending towards a lot of attacks until a solid move gets up the road. Whether or not that move sticks is going to be primarily up to the mood of the riders in the pack and the team dynamics in the break. Roughly speaking, the big teams (NCVC, Haymarket, Harley, Kelly Benefits) will all try and stack any good move that goes. Similarly, once riders from those squads find themselves in a move, they may be reluctant to work unless the odds are very much in their favor. This can have the side effect of neutralizing pretty much anything that gets up the road as folks in the break wait for reinforcements to bridge. At the same time though, if you get a good combination off at the right time and on the right part of the course, then it can pretty much immediately roll As at Jeff Cup though, this early in the season, people can do things that are unexpected - pull "wild card" performances. I don't think people are going to "let" Joe D. roll again, as he will be a marked man, but the more that people key in on and attempt to neutralize specific riders (for example, Russ Langley, Josh Frick, Chuck Hutcheson, Dave Fuentes, Joe Dombrowski, etc.), the more it opens the door for others to slip under the radar and put in a great performance.