Staying Upright in Tulsa

Posted on 11. Jun, 2011 by in race

Last night’s men pro/1 Blue Dome Criterium was simply a crashfest. The riders went down on the second turn on the first lap and didn’t stop until the finale. It might be easier to say who didn’t go down than who did in the 135-rider field in the first race of the St Francis Tulsa Tough. A fast moving thunderstorm hit right as the previous race was coming to its finale causing the officials to shorten it by five laps and delaying the start of the men’s race by 15 minutes. The rain and lightning had stopped by the time the men started but the hot city roads were wet.

The strategy to say upright was  “about positioning” for winner Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia). “Because there are so many tight corners and having the roads wet for the first thirty minutes just made it really, really crazy. So with all these corners, and a few potholes in the race and the lighting is probably not as good as it could be, it was dicey so you just had to stay at the front and hold your position.”

Jomathan Cantwell (V Australia) at front of the field on the still wet roads

Jomathan Cantwell (V Australia) at front of the field on the still wet roads

But that’s easier said than done because, of course, everyone wanted to be at the front.

“We were lucky the rain stopped because at the beginning of the race, it was almost impossible to [stay at the front],” commented Anibal Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home), “especially the second turn, it was like gasoline, I crashed on the first lap.”

“On the second corner, I went straight into the street, I hit my two wheels on the barriers, both flatted. Fortunately I didn’t crash,” laughed brother Alejandro also with the Jamis/Sutter Home team. “The people were screaming ‘ahhhhh’.”

The combination of the rain and the hot temperatures made the downtown Tulsa city streets a slip and slide. Shaped like a figure 8, the 1.2-km course included eight 90-degree corners, and parked cars on the backside straightaways

“I think that course already is tight and it has some rough sections in the pavement but it was slick, it was really slick. It was one of the more slippery courses I’ve done because it was a downtown area, it’s hot so all the oil is getting pushed up to the top of the asphalt and it was just slippery.” explained Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda).

Like all the other experienced riders, Hanson’s strategy was to stay at the front. “Luckily I started in the front early on, I didn’t want to get out of the top 10 and just be able to stay in a spot where it was single-filed and take my own lines because it was deceptively slippery.”

Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly) avoids the grate on the corner

Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly) avoids the grate on the corner

Spots in the road started to dry off as the race went including the apex of the corners but it was still tricky to navigate.

“Though the apex of the corners were not so slick but as soon as you drifted out where cars were parked, there was a lot of oil and cracks on the road.’ Hanson added. “I think that most people didn’t think it was going to be as slick as it was.”

Hanson continued, “I think the first third of the race, every time I looked back, I would see some crash in the field happening. I think every time I went by the pit, there was groups of guys coming in.”

Hanson bridged up to the break with 7 laps to go in the 70-minute race, a break that was initiated by Alejandro Borrajo. The 5-rider at the front pushed the pace and this time, Hanson was not looking back.

“It was one of those races where you want to look back and see what was happening but you don’t because there was still spots with water on the road and rough sections in the pavement.” Hanson concluded.

At the end, 69 riders did not finish the race with many either crashing or being caught behind one of the many crashes. Kennett Peterson (Hagens-Berman) broke his collarbone while the extent of the other injuries are still unknown.

More thunderstorms are in the forecast for the second race of the omium the Brady Village Criterium. Chances of rain are 40% same as Friday night.

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