After a surprising ride in the opening time trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic which placed him in fourth place, Joey Rosskopf‘s intent was clear as he told podiuminsight, the goal is the overall podium. His actions on stage 1 in the Beaumont Circuit stage, showed how determined he was when he want into two breaks and even became virtual leader on the road. Though he ultimately lost a few positions overall, Rosskopf is still only 14 seconds down in the general classification and is still gunning for one of those three steps.
On the third of fifth lap, the 23-year old rider on the Hincapie Sportswear Development Cycling Team, followed one of the many counter-moves after the first break was reeled in.
“A lot of moves on the hill before the feedzone so I just followed a big one, we didn’t have anyone in just to cover.” Rosskopf told podiuminsight. The gap went up to two minutes making Rosskopf the virtual yellow on the road but the break was doomed to failure with little cooperation amongst the riders.
“It wasn’t great. Everyone in the break has teammates in good GC position.” he continued. “Two guys were sitting on and after another lap, everyone started attacking.”
Not done, Rosskopf attacked again on the ultimate lap but was reeled back in and finished in the main group with the yellow jersey Chad Haga (Optum p/b KBS).
It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. “Hopefully nothing crazy happens tomorrow (Saturday), it’s just a sprint, and try again on Sunday.”
It all started with his breakthrough time trial ride on Thursday. “I had never really done that well in a time trial so I didn’t really have much faith in doing well.” he said with a laugh on Thursday. “I have done a lot of things different this year. I think that we have some of the best equipment and I’ve actually been able to keep my time trial bike at home and train on it, stuff like that. Plus I didn’t really race that much last year so I didn’t get to compare myself to these guys.”
“I felt good, I felt smooth, some days in my TT, I feel like I’m fighting it all the time, I was comfortable. It was a good day.”
His time of 15:07 on the 7.8-mile Big Bear Lake course put him on the hot seat for the next hour and 20 minutes. “I was only the fifth rider to go off so I expected to be the fastest time when I came through and then, it held up for another hour or something and then I started hoping that I would stay on the podium. It’s pretty cool to go through, nothing I ever done on a time trial before.”
One factor that led to a great ride was knowing the course. “I think the huge advantage is that we went up there and pre-rode the course a couple of days ago. I don’t know how many teams got to do that. We got to do a couple laps of it, went over the curvy sections a few times so I knew it. I always knew what was coming up, I always knew where the turns were, it was definitely an advantage.”
And the altitude, over 6,000 feet, was not a factor for the Athens, Georgia resident.
But really, it started days, weeks and months before Thursday’s time trial for Rosskopf on his first year with his. “I just have way more support, especially regarding time trials this year since joining Hincapie Sportswear. I have one of the nicest bikes you can get, HED wheels, Giro helmet, you can’t ask for better equipment and then, the team is just completely behind every rider, they want you to be good on it so they encourage everyone to take their bike home with them. I think a lot of teams that the riders see their TT bikes three times a year when they show up at a race and have never ridden it before.”
“My time trial results have always lagged behind my road results, I’ve always done better on the road. With this specific time trial support, there’s no reason that my time trial results shouldn’t catch up to where I am on the road.”
Rosskopf’s results on the road include a fourth place at the hard one-day race Tour of the Battenkill last year. For most of 2012, he worked as a domestique for the Team Type 1 squad.
Given his time trial result, is it time to look at Rosskopf as a potential GC racer?
“It just depends on the course. I’ve noticed for the past couple of years that I fade after a few days. I think I’m definitely better at a one-day or one or two day race because I’m just really capable of going deep and going into the box on one day. I can do a lot of damage to myself in one day and not realizing it until I try to race another few days in a row.” he replied.
“I can’t really be a GC rider if there’s a hilltop finish. I think at Redlands I’m fine, I want to be on the podium. I think that’s totally realistic, the courses here are good for me. A couple of long days, the hills are hard but there are no climbs.”
The battle for the overall win which heated up on the Beaumont Circuit Race is only going to intensify on the final stage, the Sunset Loop road race. Rosskopf hopes to exploit the fact that he is an unknown quality for the big boys fighting for the top step.
“I would like to play that card because a lot of the guys have ten years more experience than I do and almost won this race or won this race in the past. Our team is as strong as the other teams and I know that we’re a closer knit group of guys. I live with two teammates and our mechanic in Athens so when I travel to the race it’s like I’m traveling with my best friends and everyone else on the team is from the Southeast mostly so I’ve known all these guys since I started racing.”
“I have confidence in our team, I’m sure that other teams don’t have in us, I don’t think they know the quality of the young guys on our team and hopefully that can play in our favor.”