Magnificent Team Work Leads to 3rd for Dan Yankus at Maple Hill Race for Wishes
July 16th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Collin Snyder, Team OAM Now Cyclist
Did you read my last blog entry about racing trade secrets? I forgot one: If you line up at a 105 mile road race without a strong team behind you, don’t attack a half mile into the race.
However, that’s exactly what I did at the Maple Hill Race for the Wishes Pro 1/2 Road Race, with one small exception: I had a ridiculously strong group of team mates lined up beside me. Representing Team OAM Now was the power house Dan Yankus, limitless sufferer Alex Vanias, and strong man Pete Ehmann who, despite breaking a rib 2 weeks prior at Herman Miller, finished 4th in Saturday’s BTR Energy Crit.
Our plan was simple: I would attack early, and make it stick. Shortly after we made our first turn away from the start, I went to the front and attacked. As we had reasoned, the collective response was nothing. After getting a couple hundred-yard gap, one other masochistic soul decided to join me. We worked our butts off for two laps and, at one point, managed to get about 2 minutes on the field.
Shortly after the start of the third lap, a chase group of 4 bridged up and breathed new life into our tired break. Our average speed popped up and, pretty soon, our gap of 45 seconds ballooned up to nearly 2:45 just a few miles down the road. At this point, I was starting to feel toasty, but with enough water, I felt like I could handle it. The six of us kept motoring on, digging ever deeper into the tank. Eyeing the competition, I knew I was one of the smaller fish, but I had to keep going for the team.
About a lap and a half later, my savior came. Dan Yankus had followed David Williams for nearly a half an hour to make it up to our break. When I bridge a break, I normally sit in for a little bit. Not this group. They went straight to the front and upped the pace even more. At this point, I was hurting. I hung with the now group of 9 until a relentless pace from the big hitters popped my original break companion, EPS’s Bryce Nuiver from the first chase group and, ultimately, me at precisely 3 hours and 75 miles in. My legs had had enough.
I switched to endurance/death march pace, envisioning an eventual swallowing from the field. I soldiered on, keeping an eye over my shoulder to spot the inevitable. In the distance, I could see a chase group coming up fast. It was AlexVanias along with two other riders. I took one look at their pace and knew I had nothing. I watched them quickly fade into the distance. I felt like I was barely moving, and made a deal with myself that when the eventual field caught me, I would try and hold on, but if they dropped me before the start of the last lap, I would throw the towel in.
Shortly thereafter, another chase group came barreling through, this time, it included Pete Ehmann. Pete said he was on the rivet for way too long and they attacked hard to keep me from jumping on. Little did they know, I was dead, so the joke was on them. This unfortunately popped Pete, so we decided to ride in together. The pack didn’t catch us before we started the last lap, so based upon my deal, I had to keep going. For the next 17 miles, we marched on slowly but surely, giving each other motivation to continue. When we reached the final bump (which felt like a mountain), we looked back to see no one. With a 2 mile downhill run into the finish, we realized the pain was not in vain. We had stayed away from the group. Without a great teammate like Pete, I never would have pushed myself on that last lap and would have eventually rejoined the field; I’m ever grateful. My stretch goal of never actually riding with the field came to fruition, with 104.5 miles of pain in my legs. I must say, you probably won’t see me writing another blog about attacking at mile .5 of another 100+ mile road race any time soon. I might have to put a limit of 80 or so.
Overall, it was a great day for Team OAM Now’s elite team, with every rider finishing ahead of the break. Dan managed to clean up what I started and finished 3rd on the day. Alex and his ever lasting motor earned 7th, and Pete and I finished 14th and 13th respectively.
This was team work at its finest. I knew I could sacrifice my race knowing that my move would eventually lead to overall success for the team. It has been an honor and a pleasure to ride for such a great team with amazing support from teammates, staff and sponsors of Team OAM NOW!.
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