50km Points race
This was the last event at the World Deaf Cycling Championships held at Mont Tremblant, Canada. The points race was held on the same tight circuit as the 1000m match sprints: 1.4km loop. It was also the hottest day of the World Championships meeting and I had come to Canada with high hopes for both the match sprints (achieved a bronze medal) and the points race. Both of these events are considered my forte and I did not want to repeat what happened to me in Taipei 2009 (was sixth in Taipei and fifth in San Francisco) so tried a more conservative strategy.
The way the points race works at the World Deaf Cycling Championships is that EVERY second lap there is a sprint for points – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th all collect 5-3-2-1 points. Yes it is a brutal way to do a race and having to sprint every few minutes! I started reasonably well, taking a 4th place in the first sprint to open my account. I also took a second place behind Nicholaus Schreiber (USA) early on to get a 3-pointer. On two occasions I was maneuvering into good position to take maximum five-pointers but did not collect any points. The first one was when coming into the final corner, one of the French riders clipped me on my inside foot and he went down. This also pushed me out towards the curb, so had to brake and lose momentum and could not contest the points. The second time was when I was forced right off the road, due to one of the Taipei riders getting lapped, into the sand and onto the footpath. Since there was a fence, I could not rejoin the race till the corner and by then I was at the back of the field.
The Russians had a strong team of five or six riders and were riding super-aggressively. They can’t sprint like myself and the Americans so it was imperative for them to form breakaway groups and collect points in that fashion. The big burly Aussie, Reece Emerson van Beek, was also in the same position – just like he did in Taipei where he jumped away solo late in the points race and almost stole Gold by lapping the field. So, by mid-point of the race a breakaway group had formed – five riders were away including two Russians and the Aussie. Trevor Kosa (USA) was also in the break. When this break went, it was pretty much over for the remaining riders including myself as all the points were being taken. It was surprising not to see the French make a co-ordinated effort on the front of the bunch. They had four riders and one of them, Steeve Toubol, collected bronze at Taipei, should have been directing his team to close down the gap. My conservative early approach was probably not the best strategy to employ on this type of course given it was quite technical in a few places. See the course profile/map on Strava below:
It was a race completely dominated by the Russian as they went 1-2 on the podium and Trevor Kosa (USA) finished third. I only managed to collect 11 points before the breakaway took control and finished 9th overall. In fact, the total distance for the event was 63kms and not the advertised 50km which made it even more challenging in the heat.