This past weekend North Carolina hosted their state road race championships. The riders were racing on a new course in Graham which included two hills followed by six miles of rolling terrain with a fast section of road leading to the finish. The day’s temperatures started in the mid 70s and rose to the upper 80s, so dealing with the heat was going to be a factor for the racers.
The pro/1/2 racers were the first group to roll out. With a small field the racers were content to keep an eye on each other. However two riders did manage to break away for two laps of the 13 mile loop.
The duo was brought back and then a rider counterattacked solo. However, the peloton organized and brought him back.
Finally three riders escaped on the last lap. Cruelly the peloton reeled them in with one-kilometer remaining. The North Carolina state road race championship was going to be decided in a field sprint.
Sitting on third wheel, Rich Harper of Raleigh waited until 200 meters from the line before jumping from the slipstream of Andrew Shelter of Bitter Dose Cycling, holding him off for the win.
Harper, a research scientist in his day job, races for the Elite Kenda Pro Cycling team. However he was racing solo, forcing him to adjust his strategy and watch other riders. Even without the help of teammates Harper felt that he could have a good race.
“I felt confident and thought if I could get to the front I could do well. I knew coming into the finish I could have a top 5 finish,” said Harper.
Enjoying his success, the Kenda racer said “It was nice to end my season with a win.”
JUNIOR MEN’S RACE
In the junior men’s race Wyatt Briggs racing for Clemmons Bicycle Shop became the 2010 North Carolina State Champion with Thomas Wrona of Raleigh All Stars second, and Michael Raynor of DIY Music third.
The junior men’s race was 42 miles and contested in 98 degree weather.
The race started with Briggs attacking immediately. Quickly Briggs was chased down by the DIY Music squad of Max Robb, Evan Wynn, Michael Raynor and Calum Dodson. Team DIY Music kept the pace hot for the first lap launching team members off the front one-by-one. Briggs, Thomas Wrona, and Dustin Tharp went to the front to bring the DIY Music riders back.
Going into the second lap and feeling desperate to get away from the group, Briggs attacked a half a mile mile before the feed zone leaving the pack with no choice but to chase. Thomas Wrona bridged to Briggs. However the attack was brought back before the hill. Thomas Wrona took the lead on the ascent and accelerated causing a major split in the pack. After the crest Briggs kept the speed constant creating a four man breakaway of himself, Wrona, Michael Raynor (DIY Music) and Evan Wynn (DIY Music).
During the third lap the break shattered when Wyatt Briggs and Thomas Wrona, riding side-by-side ascending the .7 mile length hill, pushed the pace dropping both members of the DIY Music squad. As soon as the two riders were off the front the duo began working together.
However this cooperation ended when they saw the one kilometer to go sign. A game of cat and mouse took place with the two young men took turns attacking each other and swinging side-to-side trying to shake the other. Wyatt started his sprint at the 500 meter mark with Thomas jumping onto his wheel. Thomas managed to pull along side Wyatt but the Clemmons Bicycle Shop rider took the win in a photo finish.
The women were racing four laps for a total of 53 miles. From the beginning it was apparent that no one was going to break away, so the attacks were minimal and non-committal. By the third lap the ladies peloton were able to organize a smooth paceline, however it fell apart in the last lap because no one wanted to pull through. A few miles from the finish Chris Tommerdahl of the Performance Bicycle Racing team got to the front and drilled it until the sprint. Sitting third her teammate Bergen Watterson, waited for someone to start the sprint, and launched taking the win.
“I always like to have someone to chase in the sprint,” said the new 2010 North Carolina state road race champion.
Unfortunately the women’s filed was sparsely attended even though it was a state championship event. According to Watterson there were a few women that had maybe never raced before and another few that were new to the sport.
Watterson said this was a great teaching opportunity for their Performance team.
“One of Performance Bicycle Racing’s goals is to be mentors and encourage/teach women to race their bikes, and this weekend was a wonderful example. I came from racing in Northern California where women’s fields would routinely sell out–I really hope to see more women racing in North Carolina next year.”
Complete results here.