Mark McCormack’s 2004 Race Diary
Diary Entries – October 8, 2004 – Two weeks to the big one!
I raced in the Silver City and Fall River races to keep my racing legs going. Both days I worked hard to make sure I was getting the most out of my training. I rode to and from the Silver City race from my home in Foxboro just to add the necessary distance for my upcoming racing in Chicago. Then on Sunday I rode from Foxboro to Fall River for that race. First and fourth, that is how my results were for the weekend. I was feeling very good about my fitness coming out of that weekend.
Downer Grove, IL (USPRO Weekend)
I flew in on Friday and made my annual trip to Fuddruckers for a big juicy hamburger. On both Saturday and Sunday we raced in the late afternoon/early evening so I did morning training rides with my teammates to loosen up.
In the Saturday race my teammate Juan Jose won after a great leadout from Will. This was a big win for JJ. He is having a great season and will definitely be winning a few more big races in 2005. I made one bridge across to a break in the middle of the race and during that effort I had gone so hard that my entire body was hurting (totally anaerobic) and I never recovered fully for the finish of the race.
On Sunday I was feeling good from the start and liking my chances at the end. The race ended in a field sprint and the energy in the front of the race was amazing. The last five laps of this race are crazy. Riders were going every direction but straight. I couldn’t count the number of times I thought I was going to crash. I am amazed how many close calls there were. I guess it is a testament to the quality of the bike handling skills of the top US riders.
With one lap to go I was in perfect position sitting behind my teammate JJ. Two turns later and a slight hesitation on the front of the race and suddenly I was 15 or so guys back. Within two seconds I went from being in the perfect position to being in a spot that would make it impossible to win. I think I finished 11th. Hard to believe that a two hour race came down to two seconds but at this level of criterium racing that is all it takes. Next year!
Green Mountain Stage Race and Golf Tournament
I love this race. The atmosphere, the courses, the weather, and the golf are perfect.
This year I was fortunate to have three Colavita teammates: Tyler, Todd, and Aaron. They were great to have around to share the GMSR experience with me. We were all staying at the Wilder Farm Inn just north of Waitsfield center. We had a great time hanging out with the other cyclists that were staying there. The breakfast each morning was amazing.
Stage 1: Mass start hill climb
The race is neutral along route 100 for the first few miles until we turned right and onto the mountain road. I warned my teammates of the importance of starting on the front since we would be in a moving mob with no room to move up during the neutral section. I was glad to see we all made the turn near the front and were looking good for a solid stage performance. About ½ way up the climb Tyler had his rear wheel blown apart by someone else’s front skewer and had to go back to MAVIC for a new wheel. He never made it back to the front since there wasn’t much time left in the race.
With about 2km to go Dominique Perras (Ofoto) attacked. He attacked so hard that no one even tried to go with him. Knowing that the race was on points and that the points only dropped off one point for each placing it didn’t matter if he won by 1 minute of 1 second. I was happy that his attack was so powerful because it meant that my teammates and I were still racing for second place points. With about 500 meters to go my mindset changed as I could see Dominique completely coming unglued. He was swerving side to side on the steep grade that approaches the finish line. At that point he was about 20 seconds in front of the chase group I was in. I decided to give one last effort to try to catch Dominique and managed to get to within ten feet of his back wheel. I was too late. Oh well, I finished second, Todd finish third, and Aaron finished fourth.
Stage 2: Circuit Race
Our plan was to capitalize on the fact that we had three of the top four GC placings by putting one of us in a break that didn’t contain the leader. It didn’t work. A break formed with about eight miles to go that would stay away to the finish. My teammates and I finished in the pack. During the stage Todd was battling for KOM points and was doing a good job securing those points. The GC had changed quite a bit. I think we were now in fourth, sixth, and eighth. Andrew Randall (Jet Fuel) took the lead and Joe Papp won the stage.
Stage 3: Road Race
Todd and Tyler made the early break that forms every year in this stage. I was so excited. Finally I had teammates in the break on this stage. Aaron and I just relaxed in the pack while the break gained six minutes on the field. Todd was definitely the strongest rider in that break and was scooping up the KOM points once again. Eventually team Jet Fuel went to the front along with almost every other Canadian rider in the race and they were chasing very fast. I was impressed with the pace. I did however notice a few times that the lead vehicle was driving a bit too close to the pack and creating a nice motorpacing effect. I wasn’t too happy with that since I had two riders in the break. I couldn’t get the drivers attention from my position in the field so I attacked onto the back of the pace car and basically got motorpaced up the road to about a twenty-five second gap on the field. I was trying to make the point to the driver that he needed to drive a little further in front of the pack. It worked. I sat up and waited for the chasing field and settled back in with my teammate Aaron.
After about 20 miles of chasing through the valley between the first and second climb the gap to the break remained about six minutes. I was amazed. It seemed at that point that there was no way the break would be caught.
After the second climb and descent (Middlebury Gap) it was team Louis Garneau doing the chasing. They were flying. The time gap started to decrease to the break as the valley to the final climb moved on. The break was starting to weaken and the course was getting harder. With about 10 miles to go we could see the remnants of the break. Todd was still looking good up there and the chase was being done by one Jet Fuel rider. The Louis Garneau team did ninety percent of the damage to the time gap and had no one left to chase leaving the Jet Fuel team to return to the front in defense of their leaders jersey.
The break was caught with about five or six miles to go. It was a new race with some very challenging climbing, lots of wind, and some eager riders ready to do battle. Like the first stage it was Dominique Perras going on the attack. Charles Dionne was the only one that stayed with him. I was being patient about 3 or 4 groups back trying to conserve as much energy for the final mile of the race. And with so much head wind I felt that my tactic would pay off. With each steep section I would stay in my group sheltered from the wind, and then I would jump across to the next group on the flat spots where riders were not motivated to go fast. I timed my progress perfectly and caught and passed Dominique and Charles on the final flat spot. Charles responded and caught me with about 300 meters to go on the climb. I immediately sat up and got behind him. With about 75 meters to go I made my final acceleration and finished solo for the win. The points were enough to put me into the leaders jersey. Todd had gained enough points in the KOM that stage that he would be guaranteed to keep the KOM jersey for the stage race since there were no KOM points in the final stage. Tyler had a tough final climb after working very hard to help keep the break off the front for Todd. Aaron finished in the top ten and Todd still managed to finish in the top twenty after a long day off the front.
Stage 3 B: Golf at Sugarbush
Every year since I have started racing at the GMSR I have played a round of golf at Sugarbush after the road race. I have made a good friend in Peter Oliver who is a volunteer for the GMSR and also happens to have a membership at the Sugarbush country club. I played very well for my level of golfing. Playing golf during the GMSR it one of the reasons I have such a good time there. We do take the golf carts though since it is such a hilly course. This year we only managed fifteen holes. The road race is forty miles longer which ate into the available daylight for golfing.
Stage 4: Burlington Downtown Criterium
There were four sprints during the race that had bonus points that counted toward the GC. Charles Dionne was sitting in second overall and is a very fast sprinter. My plan was to keep an eye on Charles and make sure that if he was winning the sprints that I was getting second. This would ensure that I kept the yellow jersey.
Going into the first sprint I was following Charles and sure enough, he won it and I was second. We had sprinted so hard that a gap had formed and we both decided to go on the offensive. We went into a two man team time trial. It was HARD! Eventually we were caught by a few others, including my teammate Aaron. This was a good group that seemed very cohesive. There were lots premes and still three more point sprints remaining. Aaron and I were doing a good job winning premes and point sprints.
The final few laps Aaron sat on the front and kept the pace high enough to discourage any attacks from the break. Coming into the final lap it was still Aaron on the front with me sitting behind. Coming out of the final turn Charles kicked past and took the stage win. I finished second but kept the overall GC and actually took the sprint jersey as well.
Bye the end of the weekend we had won a stage, the overall GC, and the KOM and Sprint jerseys. I was very happy with the weekend and really enjoyed the time together with Tyler, Todd, and Aaron.
T-Mobile International – San Francisco, CA
In the end, it was just a bad day. I felt pretty good at the start and as the race progressed I was feeling even better. But when crunch time came my legs just didn’t respond. It was very disappointing. This event is so amazing, so important. It is hard to describe how much of a let down it was to go back to this race after having such a great race there last year and have a day like the one I had this year. Not much else to say on this one.
After returning home from San Francisco I took a week completely off my bike and started to do some running to get my legs ready for the cyclo cross training that was just about to begin.
My new equipment arrived a few days before the first cross races at Pittsfield and Northfield. I assembled my two new Felt F1X’s with Reynolds Carbon forks, Dura-Ace ten speed, Mavic Ksyrium SL’s, Frog Leg cantilevers, and some broken-in saddles from my days with Saturn.
I am racing for the Clif Bar/Colavita Olive Oil cross team. It is a great partnership and am excited to have my first ever cyclo cross program that is independent from my road racing program.
The new bikes are amazing. They ride very nice and are so much lighter than my previous bikes.
I have raced five times so far this year and have been very happy with my progress both physically and technically.
My plans for the season include all six of the US GP cross series races as well as all of the Verge New England series races. Nationals will finish off my cross racing on December 12th back in Portland, OR. I will also race at many of the New England cross races that are not part of the above mentioned series. I intend to race every weekend between now and Nationals.
This is my twentieth season racing road and cross and I still enjoy it as much as I did in my first season back in 1985.
For those of you reading this journal that are not racing cross this year, I feel bad for you. It is something that every cyclist should try. Come out and watch a race and you will see what I mean.
Thanks for reading.
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