Stage 3 of the Tour of Virginia from Bedford to Covington was the hardest day of racing that I have ever seen. The race was blown across the road from the beginning. There were guys 30 minutes back with 60 miles left ride on a 107 mile day.
On the map, it looked like the day was going to be decided on the final Category 1 climb at Warm Springs at the very end of the race, but that's not quite how it worked out for the majority of riders. The first selection of 20 (riders) or so actually ended up being made on a steep roller just after the first KOM about 50 miles in. When I got the numbers of these guys, it was obviously going to be over for everyone else.
Our team lost three riders today. Pat Raines abandoned in the feed zone. David Duncan was time cut. Tiago DePaula was also time cut, but I am going to see about getting him back in because he was ridiculously lost and it probably cost him 30 minutes.
Chris Monteleone rode a nice race to get 40th ten minutes back. He was a junior last year, so I think that this is a good result on a hard day against experienced professionals like Dominique Perras who have had many seasons in Europe. Chris was in the main field and over the last climb up Warm Springs, he was tailed off a bit from the first 12, so it's a good ride from him. In the end, there were the winner, then nine riders at 50 seconds or so, then six 6 at about 1:40, then 11 at about 4:30, then five near six minutes, then Chris and 12 others at about 10 minutes. The rest of the finishers were broken apart in smaller groups like this for an hour after the winner crossed. 26 riders were time cut and about that many more stopped on their own. So we lost 57 riders in this stage alone.
Jered Gruber finished 66th at 17 minutes. He rode a really aggressive first hour when things were going hard and the first selection came as a counter attack on a steep hill after an attack that Jered had been a part of was brought in. He is super-motivated for the next stages because he sees that he could just have easily made the selection with a little different luck and timing. He got in trouble when he flatted and couldn't come back, but he ended the day pumped up about his ability to actually take part in a hard race. I agree with him. It's better to go out there and ride hard because you can learn what you can do much better than sitting in waiting to get pounded on the climb.
Some cool highlights from today:
- Alliance Environmental's team car had a dog in it.
- Marc Dufour, from Quebec, had a big tour group of Canadians who painted the road up with Dom Perras' name and Fleurs de Lys'.
- There were a ton of school kids out to see the race pass.
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