Before the start of the season, Kyle Wamsley (BISSELL) adjusted his training to peak in the May/June timeframe with his sights set on Philly. The TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship is a top priority for the Pennsylvania native.
He seems to have timed it perfectly. After a tough day of racing in the heat in South Carolina last weekend, Wamsley won the field sprint for fifth place at the Greenville Hospital Systems USA Cycling Road National Championship – making him the top domestic rider.
The week prior to US Pro, the 31-year old soloed to victory at the NRC Wilmington Grand Prix Road Race, attacking with 1.5 km to go.
“I had really good training the past month and to actually be good in such a big race is really nice.” Wamsley said about the US Pro road race. “Honestly, I had pretty awesome legs at the finish and I think the best thing to take out of it is I’m peaking my body to throw it down at Philly. I’m really happy with the result, probably the best result I’ve ever put up and it’s a big confidence boost going into Philly.”
Given the way the race unfolded last Sunday, Wamsley was happy with the results. “The team worked pretty hard for me all day, had guys chasing at the finish and it’s kind of a bummer we couldn’t get the break back.”
He added that three out of the four protected riders in the team made it into the finale. “We have to be happy with 75% in a race that’s this hot and how hard those guys went up the hill the first lap”
Not wanting a repeat of last year’s race with the early break made it, BMC set a punishing pace at the front of the field the first time up Paris Mountain. Many could not hold on and went off the back, never to be seen again.
“First lap put the nail in a lot of people’s coffin, straight up.” Wamsley said. “It worked well for me because there’s less fighting going into the climb, with half the field gone straightaway so I was petty happy with that. I had a good climb the first time up.”
While the break was off the front, Wamsley stayed in the ever dwindling field following a strategy devised with his teammate Chris Baldwin to get up the tough climb.
“Just got make sure that you start at the front and you can lose about 10 to 20 wheels as long as you start under top 10 at the bottom of it. That’s the key.” Wamsley explained. “If you can save, 10 to 20 watts over the length of the climb, that can be the difference. That’s literally a matter of letting 10 wheels go in the space of the whole thing. There’s a couple of spots in the climb where it just kicks a little bit more and you can ease it back and let a couple of people sprint in front of you.”
The final attack came down on Paris Mountain where four riders, all from ProTeams, escaped and it was up to a few domestic riders to try and chase it back.
“It was four or five domestic guys rolling through on four ProTour guys and that’s not really good numbers. They were giving it.” Feeling good, Wamsley waited for the field sprint when saw that the gap was not coming down as they entered the three small finishing circuits.
“Frank [Pipp] asked me if I was ready, I gave him the nod. Then at a lap and half to go, there were a couple of digs to try and split up the group and it was just a matter of staying in the middle of the group and not missing any splits. I knew I’d be good for the finish.”
Many riders at US Pro honed their form at the Amgen Tour of California, but not Wamsley. Just how did he get prepared for two long hard races?
“That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? “ he replied with a laugh.
He continued, “I felt really good coming out of Joe Martin and they sent me home. I felt motivated to train, I had really, really good training the last two weeks, and I made sure I was rested coming into this. It was a 14-day training block, some really specific work for Philly more than US Pro.”
Wamsley focused his training for the long Philly race which at 156 miles (251 km) long is 41 miles longer than US Pro.
“Training for a race like Philly with a steep climb like that, I think it goes hand in hand with US Pro, just being able to put yourself in the block after four hours. You need it at Philly and you need it here, just mirroring each other. I think the big thing with me is coming into this race fresh and not having ridden a long stage race, where you basically get beat up by ProTour guys day after day, that’s motivation for that fourth lap and that’s important.”
Though his training for Philly paid off at Greenville, Wamsley is quite clear that the two climbs are quite different. Repeated ten times over the course of the race, the Manayunk Wall in Philly is only 800 meter long but has an average grade of 17%.
“You have to float this hill.” he said about the 2-2-mile climb of Paris Mountain. “The Wall in Philly is sheer power where this is more like a muscular endurance effort, it’s way different and it puts an entirely different sting in your legs so it will be interesting.”
Wamsley replied with a chuckle when asked if he was disappointed with not being selected for the California race. “I would never know unless I was there. I’m happy with the result today and I’ll be even happier if I get in there at Philly. You have to be happy with the races that you do.”
The week leading to the Philly race included days of rest and racing at the Base Camp Intl p/b Verizon Wireless in New Jersey. “Pretty chill, make sure I have good legs and good motivation for Philly, it’s a long day.” Wamsley concluded with an emphasis on long.
Pretty sure that Wamsley will not have any trouble finding motivation on Sunday.