All posts in Tour de l’ Abitibi

Conclusion of the Tour de l’Abitibi

Overall it was an awesome experience. Once again, my eyes were opened to how many people are faster and stronger than me. I was extremely happy with my 10th place time trial but extremely disappointed at how badly I had done in the road races. I learned a lot from the week. How to handle myself in a 120+ rider field, how to work the caravan, how to push riders around and avoid accidents in the dry and rain. The racing was extremely fast. Nothing in LAMBRA even compares to how hard this race was. Our finishing circuits were faster than the MSGP Friday night crit. I have a lot of work to do to be the best and a lot of hard hours in the saddle. I also need a lot more big race experience. Racing with guys from Japan and Thailand and Denmark and Austria and all over the world was awesome. Communication was hard sometimes but most of the people spoke a little English so it all worked out. It was awesome, just awesome.

I’ll be home Tuesday and will be leaving for nationals in Bend, OR Wednesday morning. Hopefully I’ll have better luck there. I’ll be writing reports from nationals also if anyone is interested.

Brian Rizk

Stage 7- The final day

About a 65km run into town, then 9, 3mile laps.

I woke up in the morning feeling a little better but not great. My chest was getting really congested and I had a nasty cough. Looking at the course profile and route, I noticed that the 3 mile lap contained the hill that I had gotten dropped on twice before, except instead of doing it 3 times, we were doing it 9 times. So anyway, we start the stage and the sun is shining and everything is good. My attitude improved with the sunshine and I moved to the front of the pack to avoid wrecks. Then it clouded over and started pouring. I was miserable again, but I stayed in the front fourth of the pack. So blah blah, people tried to break away, we chased them down. They had the usual 35-40mph sprint spots but it was another ordinary day. As we got closer to town, I moved myself closer to the front. I wanted to make sure that when we hit the finishing circuits, I was near the front so I would have a cushion if I started dropping back. Also, it was still raining so I wanted to avoid any wrecks in the corners. So I was sitting in like 20th position or so and the field was strung out. We were doing about 35mph coming into town. We hit the finishing circuits and everything was still fine, I was feeling good. Then we hit that hill, I went from the very front, to the very back of the pack instantly. I was barely able to hang on for that lap and when we hit that climb again, I was off the back. I drafted off cars in the caravan as they passed but eventually they all passed by and I was on my own. So I had about 6 laps to go on my own. It was going to be an 18mile time trial with the goal of not getting lapped. The officials said if you got lapped, you were pulled and got a DNF, no matter when you got lapped. So my goal was not to get lapped so I could say I finished the race. So blah blah, I time trialed and time trialed and eventually got my bell lap. I knew that I couldn’t be lapped anymore so I took it easy but not too easy cause I still had to make time cut. I was so relieved when I crossed the finish line. It was finally over. The race was done and I finished. A brief conclusion of the whole week will follow.

Brian Rizk

Sorry about the late report, the past two days have been very very tiring.

Stage 6- 12.4km loop we did 8 times i think…

Well, to start off, with riding in the 50degree rainy weather i was coming down with a pretty nasty cold. I was running a little fever all day and felt like shit. Going from 98 degrees to 50degrees and raining kinda shocked my system a little. So at the start i wasn’t feeling good. So we do the first lap and i’m hanging on for dear life. The course was pretty difficult with a couple climbs and a strong headwind and crosswind. About halfway through the second lap there was a wreck at the top of one of the climbs and I was behind it. I was able to keep the rubber down but ran over somebody’s bike in the process. No big deal, I started chasing the peleton then my rear tire went flat. Once again, no big deal, so I raised my right hand to signal a rear flat and looked back and the whole caravan was still behind the wreck and I was about 500 meters away from it. For whatever reason, the neutral service car came flying past me. Finally my team car came up and changed my flat. By that time, the peleton was way down the road, they were long gone. So I chased as hard as I could for about 2 laps, then settled into a nice pace. In all the excitement and confusion and aggravation, I had been forgetting to eat and drink. So I was about 30-40miles in and had only drank half a bottle and no gels. So I downed a bottle and ate a gel but it was too late. I hit the wall. BONK!!!!! So by this time, I’m feeling like shit, I’m discouraged, and I don’t even feel like riding any more. But I keep going and eventually the pack lapped me on their last lap. Yeah, I got lapped on a 12.4km loop. That’s pretty bad. So I came across the finish line, and said to the official, I got lapped and I’m not doing another lap. He said okay and that was that. So I wasn’t sure if they would give me a DNF or relative time. So we waited for the results that evening and they gave me a time that was somewhere around 23 minutes behind the pack. To be completely honest, if I would have chosen to ride my last lap, I don’t think I would’ve made time cut. But luckily they gave me a time so I could start the last day. I was now sitting in 108th out of 128 riders. I was feeling pretty shitty, I dropped from 23rd to 108th in 2 days. So I wasn’t really motivated for the last day. So I’ll tell you how the last day went in the next report.

Brian Rizk

Stage 3-14.5km Time Trial

Well to start out, the time trial started down a gold mine, literally.

It was broken into 6 waves, with 1 person from every team in each wave. I was in the third wave. You got in a mine car and they took you down the mine. Then you were placed in a little room. After getting dressed and everything, they gave you 5 minutes on a stationary bike and 5 minutes on your bike on a trainer and that’s it. Keep in mind we were down in a damp mine that was probably about 45-50 degrees. So it really wasn’t much of a warmup. The exit out of the mine was only 570meters but it was at about 15-18% grade. Also keep in mind the ground is wet so you can’t stand up. If any of you did the rouge roubaix, it was like that, except it was wet instead of gravel. You couldn’t stand up. On top of that, you go around completely pitch black corners and once you come around the corner all you could see is the next like up the tunnel. So you’re inching along, can’t see shit, and you’re cold. Finally I came out of the tunnel. It was such a relief. So i switched into the big ring and got into a rhythm. The first 2-3km of the time trial after the mine goes through neighborhoods and stuff so it was really technical. On top of that, you come back on the same roads so you only had one lane to corner and stuff. So of course i was being young and crazy and just bombing it through the corners. The rest of the time trial was like any other time trial. Just hauling ass. I caught my 1,2 and almost caught my 3 minutes man on the line. It was pretty awesome, you had a motor official pacing you and the team car behind you. They even had a leaderboard, and guess what, after i went through, i was at the top of the leaderboard by 7 seconds. I was pretty excited but i knew it wouldn’t stand up long because all the fast fast guys hadn’t gone yet. So anyway i rode back to the school and showered and everything and after everyone was done, our director sportif came in and told me i had gotten 10th. I was excited beyond belief. I got 10th out of the best juniors in the world. So anyway, my focus then shifted to how high i was on GC now. Once they had the results up i checked them out and was 24th on GC. A hell of a lot better than i thought i would do. Anyway, the rest of the afternoon was sleeping and resting for the 52km stage in the afternoon.

Stage 4-52km road race

My legs weren’t feeling too bad from the tt and i was pretty pumped…until we got to the town where the start was and it was raining. Now when it rains in louisiana it’s not that bad, big deal, a little wetness. Well when it rained here, the temperature dropped to about 50 and the rain was freezing. So we were all basically huddled in the basement of a church right up until the start. The U.S. national team had guys 1 and 2 on GC so i figured things would be pretty controlled. And they were but it still was fast fast. It rained the whole race blah blah, people wrecked, blah blah, just another road race. I stayed to the front and stayed out of trouble and everything. We averaged 28.8 for a 32 mile road race. It was smokin. Well i gotta wrap it up and head to bed.

Until tomorrow.

Brian Rizk

The distance was about 58.6 miles. Not too long but FAST. We started out pretty slow, slower than i thought. There were two KOM and 3 time/point sprints out on the stage. Because this race is practically all flat and the time trial is only 8ish miles, the race is decided by seconds. The only way anyone can do well is either have a kick ass time trial or a good time trial and get sprint time bonuses. So i decided if i got to the front i’d go for one or two or three of those. Well good luck. Staying in the front of the pack was near impossible. When i say you had to fight to stay in the front, i mean you had to fight. Throw elbows, push people’s hips, anything you could do to stay in the front. Anyway, the race finally got rolling and we were cruising at about 30mph. The sprints got up to about 38-40 and it stayed at 27-30 mostly the whole race. Coming into town, we did 3 3.3km loops as the finishing circiut. I was feeling good until we hit that circuit. Before that i was able to stay near the front, i wasn’t spending too much energy fighting people and it was all good. When we hit that first turn into the finishing circuits, it was balls to the wall. 35 on the straights and just a little slower in the corners. There was a substancial climb and it was killing me. I was hanging on for dear life. For all of you guys that watched the MSGP friday night crit or raced it, it was faster than that, really. It was only 3 laps but it was still faster. On the last lap as i was hanging on in the back, a couple guys got tangled up in front of me so i had to slow down. Of course, a gap opened up immediatly. I was chasing with everything i had and bombing the corners and still couldn’t catch them. I finished about 100 meters behind the main pack so i’m guessing i got a time cut. Probably around 20-30 seconds cause the time starts when the first rider crosses the line. So now i’m behind on time and can’t figure out how to spirnt 40+ to win a time bonus or anything. I guess i’ll just have to do awesome in the time trial to make up some ground. The experience was awesome though. For everybody who says cycling isn’t a contact sport, get in the middle of this pack and try to hold your position. You’ll see. It was cool racing with international guys. There’s teams from denmark, austria, all over canada and US, thailand, japan, new zealand, and i’m sure i’m missing some. We averaged 26.6 mph and we were 2km slower than the slowest estimated finish time. Crazy. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. till next time. Bryan Rizk

This Sunday, I will be traveling to Canada for the Tour de l’Abitibi. A 6 day, 7 stage junior UCI stage race in Val d’Or Canada. Junior races are broken up into categories like 2.1, 1.2 etc. The Tour de l’Abitibi is a Nations Cup race which is basically the highest level of junior UCI stage race. I guess you can compare it to National Race Calendar(NRC) races for the US. I got invited to go to it while at a U23 USACycling Development Camp in Sewanee, TN. I’ll be racing under the team name Mid-South Regional with 5 other juniors. The field will be close to 200 riders from all around the world, most of the countries bringing their A squads. Last year, for one of the stages, they averaged around 27 mph for about a 100km stage. I’m not sure if I’ll have internet access while we’re there because they’re boarding all the racers up in one of the schools. We’re going to be sleeping in cots in the classrooms. If we do have internet access I’ll keep everyone updated with race reports, if not, I’ll just write all my race reports down and send out a big race report when I get back home. Below is a link to the website. If you click on “Technical Guide” it brings up the race bible. If you click on “Program Tour 2009″ it gives a basic description of all the stages. I’ll try and keep everyone updated if i can. Also, you can include it when you post this or post it later. When I return from Canada, I’ll be home for one day, then we’re leaving July 29 to go to Bend, Oregon for Junior Nationals. Talk about a busy 2 weeks of racing!

For more info on the Tour de l’ Abitibi click here
Brian Rizk