May 28th, 2015 by Marie Dershem
Waking up to a cool, crisp morning, racers made their way to the quaint little town of Frankfenmuth for what proved to be a day of battling the winds and chasing down breaks. With roads that cut through wide open fields, this race is one where winds play a huge role. Pair that with a long, downhill finish, and it is a race who’s winner is never a foregone conclusion.
This year, the Men’s Pro 1/2 field of 45 was filled with many strong riders, including TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors Chris Gottwald, Cory Stange, and Daniel Yankus. Eighty miles of flat and windy proved to be so demanding that only 22 of the 45 who started the race, actually finished. The attacks started early… and Dan managed to get into a small break of 4, gaining a minute on the field. Eventually, a group of 8 were able to bridge up to this small break. Though they stayed together for a short while, eventually this group of 12 widdled down to a group of 3 –with Dan being one of them. However, after responding to too many attacks, he fell off and was absorbed back into the now dwindling field. Realizing that the two riders up the road were too far to catch, Dan and Chris put the pressure on the field. There were 10 miles to go when Dan broke away with a group of 3 again. With about 2 miles left, another small group of 3 bridged up to them and as this group of 6 were organizing themselves, one rider attacked and got away. As the remaining 5 in this break-away rolled into town, Dan laid down the hammer and came across the line first, landing a 4th place overall. Cory and Chris came in with the field and ended up 12th and 15th, respectively. It is truly amazing to see how this team works together to land a podium spot. Well done all!
The women’s Pro 1/2/3 race started with a field of 19 women, including TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors teammates Marie Dershem, JoAnn Cranson, and Laura Melendez. After riding together for the first 5 miles or so, the attacks began. Only a few riders made attempts to get away, but they did so often enough to keep the race exciting. But, with a field of strong riders and a killer head wind, all of the break-away attempts were brought back into the field within minutes of creating a gap. So, after 60 grueling miles, the group headed into the final sprint together. JoAnn valiantly took the lead (a strong lead-out for Marie) and pulled the group along the last stretch of road before the last corner and downhill finish. Marie headed into the corner first, but underestimated the distance to the finish (and the strong headwind). At about 200meters to go, the strong sprinters in the group overcame Marie and she was unable to respond. She had sprinted too soon. Marie placed 11th, JoAnn 15th… and although the finish was not what they hoped for, it was a great race and even better learning experience. Laura was unable to finish the race.
TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors Junior Racer, Carson Lowell, raced the Mens Cat 4, one of the largest fields to start racing that Saturday morning. With 56 riders in the field, Carson had a difficult time managing to stay near the front of the pack. Getting frustrated being at the back of the field, he attacked on the grass along the side of the road to make it into the top 10 as the field headed toward the finish of the race. The group rounded the corner with Carson in the top 10, but he found that his gearing (regulated by USA Cycling) held him back as he spun out on the downhill finish. With no higher gears to reach for, he finished 24th… a respectable finish in a huge field. Good job, Carson!
Two other TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors Junior racers, Tristan Greathouse and John Hurn, raced the Mens CAT 5, 35 and under race, with a field of 29. Facing the winds like all of the other racers, it turned out to be a tough race for both Tristan and John. John, unfortunately, took a spill during the race, but bravely hammered his way back into the pack, but was unable to finish the race. Tristan, with about 6.5 miles to go, broke away from the field and red-lined his way toward the finish. However, with 2 miles to go, he was caught by the field. To stay away from a large field, into a head wind, is a pretty amazing feat in and of itself. Realizing he went too early, he now knows that he has what it takes to win in a break-away if he can sit on his attack for just a bit longer. Tristan landed a 12th place finish.
The 45+ Master road race covered 60 miles, which proved to be filled with a few breaks and long chases. Rich Landgraff, Chris Abston, Terry Ritter, and Mike Wyczalek all came together to see what they could do along these flat and windy roads. Early on in the race, a break of 3 riders got away, with no one from TEAM OAM NOW/Athletic Mentors with them. Mike and Terry, with a little help from Rich and Chris, worked hard to close down the gap, but in the process, two other riders were able to get away from the field. Continuing to work to close the gap, the team worked well together throughout the race until, finally, a Terry was able to break away and bridge up to the front group. This break- away group of 5 looked like they would take the top 5 podium spots, but the field closed in and the race came down to a final sprint. Rich got 5th in the field spring, Terry placed 11th, and Chris and Mike at 20th and 25th. Again, the unpredictable Frankenmuth with its flat, windy roads and downhill finish proved unpredictable. Well done all!
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