POA Cycling Fall Extravaganza Series

Vargas of Hincapie Sportswear wins the Brookwood Church criterium

While the field at the Brookwood Church Fall Extravaganza was small, the racing was fast. From the first lap the group was strung out with Wilmar Vargas mentor for the Hincapie Development team was the first to break free of the group. After a few laps of freedom the he was hauled back to the chasing group. A series of attacks followed but nothing was sticking. On the bell lap Vargas tried his luck again shadowed by Dick James rider Julian Cabra.

On the backside of the course Cabra gave it his all however he ran out of energy just before the chicane. At this point Vargas took over and accelerated. He was able to maintain the gap between himself and the chasing peloton which gave him the clear victory.

Sunday the Fall Extravaganza series was located at Donaldson Center, utilizing a shorter loop which brought the riders onto an uphill section of Perimeter Road and then a right hand turn onto an access road which looped the riders around and back onto Perimeter. The loop was longer than Saturday’s course and the riders would face a headwind on the farther point of the circuit.

Motivated by what he thought was a lack of racing in Saturday’s event, Andy Baker of Team Mountain Khakis went out looking for revenge. Baker animated the race by covering the front of the group as much as he could. However when a small break went up the road, he knew that was the move to be in.

From the break Brian Toone of Tria Market/DonohooAuto.com and Baker both sprinted for a prime. That effort separated them from the peloton and they had a gap.

Baker wins the Donaldson Short Course criterium

Working together the distance between the duo and the peloton stayed consistent. It was obvious as the time ran down that the winner was either going to be Toone or Baker. The finishing stretch was a long, straight slight downhill of approximately 300 meters. As the two man break turned right on the finishing stretch Baker started to sprint. Toone responded but was unable to match Baker’s jump and the Mt Khaki rider easily took the win acknowledging the crowd as he crossed the line.

The Fall Extravaganza weekend series was promoted by POA Cycling and race promoter/announcer Blair Lamarche.

In 2005 Blair Lamarche started training on a bike as a form of cardiovascular training. As he started to ride and train, the need to compete was sparked. With the help of his employer St Francis Sports Medicine as title sponsor, the Piedmont Orthopaedic Associates (POA) team was created. The squad was originally seven friends who wanted to race and ride together. However, the red kit of POA became known as one of the strongest masters team in the area. Next year the team is adding a few more riders to bolster its already strong membership.

“I have hopes that we will be the most feared masters team in the southeast,” said an obviously proud Lamarche.

Blair Lamarche is a man of many hats - racer, promoter, trainer

In addition to organizing the POA cycling team Lamarche is a certified athletic trainer. His employer St Francis Sports Medicine provides all the medical assistance for every cycling event in Greenville county. While running a team and having a day job is enough work, Lamarche somehow promotes and announces at numerous races such as the POA series at the BMW Performance Center and the Fall Extravaganza.

“It’s something that people wanted and I am able to do it. It’s fun – I get on the microphone, talking and have fun.”

Looking into the future Lamarche is planning on a Spring Extravaganza race series as perhaps a lead-in to the Rock Hill races. Also the Fall series might be moved to the weekend after Labor Day rather than October as participants start to dwindle.

“This time of year we get the devoted racers that want to race their bikes. It’s great and I’m happy to put these races on.”

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