Turkey Hill has been around 11 years in its current incarnation and we did it a couple of years as a stand alone event. But I think this year's event marked a transitional change for cycling in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The breakaway of 6 riders at yesterdays race was comprised of 5 riders under 25 years old, with the winner, Jackie Simes at 21 years old. And the money spots were devoid of past winners and THCC regulars. ( See Laudien Power Rankings for further evidence of the youth movement )
Its a bittersweet feeling to see these young guys making their way into the standings. The sweet being the fact that the sport continues to grow and cultivate talent for the future. Bitter in realization ( or admitting) that father time has finally had its way with us, and the Trdinas, Millers, Blacks, and sooner or later the Kincaids of the world are going to have to step aside for this youth movement and the take their show to the masters race.
I watched the last 6 laps of the race from the wheel truck and at as good as these young guys are, it apparent that they lack tactical experience. For 30+ miles 5 of the breakaway riders let Mike Chauner sit on without taking a real pull. They didn't harass him, or attack him or anything. They just let him sit back there getting a free ride to the finish.
Now perhaps Chauner promised that he wouldn't sprint, or said that he was tired, or whatever...that's not really relevant. Even the road worker, who watches exactly one bike race a year, said to me...they really don't think he's not going to sprint past him at the end. Ethics or character aside. If you let a guy sit on your for 30+ miles and then don't get rid of him...that on you.
Post race, I realized that the problem is that those guys have no idea how to deal with a guy sitting on. When that happens there are a few approaches that work.
The first is that you just sit up and get caught. Yesterday I wouldn't have considered that an option. It was a good group, Kelly was controlling the field, and that threat wouldn't have bothers Chauner...his chances are pretty good in a sprint as well.
There's the option of attacking him. The two teammates ( forgive me I don't have names since the results aren't up) in the break did that...finally. But after a guy sits on for the last 5 laps while you've been pulling your ass off, its unlikely that an attack or two in the last 3 miles is going to do anything except tire yourself out. Chauner just rode tempo from the river to the finish and neutralized all of the attacks.
The third option is what that should have done and that is take him off the back. for anyone who grew up in a club system or watched classics pre-EPO its a standard tactic. But in modern cycling its gone the way of echelon riding....a lost art. Simply what the guys should have done is every time one of them came to the back of the line and Chauner didn't pull through, they should have let a gap form to the back of the breakaway. Once the gap got to 30 yards, they should sprint back to the back of the break. Then the next rider does the same thing. After a half dozen rotations, everyone will have to put in one extra hard sprint, but over that same period the rider sitting on would have to put on 5 extra hard efforts. In very short order, the offending rider will realize that its just a lot easier to rotate through.
Anyway, congrats to the riders, and hats off to Turkey Hill and the race organizers for a superbly run, successful event.