Fairly conquers the Battenkill

Caleb Fairly (Holowesko Partners) soloed to his biggest victory at the first UCI-ranked Tour of the Battenkill in Cambridge, New York. Caked in mud from a day of racing on the event's signature dirt roads which had turned sloppy from sporadic rain, the 23-year-old powered to the finish line with a 2:24 minute advantage over Floyd Landis (Bahati Foundation).

Fairly was the only rider to respond to Landis's attack with 30 kilometres remaining, from a reduced field of approximately 40 riders. The Coloradan dispatched Landis on the day's final climb, the dirt road ascent of Stage Road with nine kilometres remaining.

"It wasn't really an attack, I was just going," said Fairly. "When I came over the top of the climb I got 30 seconds pretty quick and I knew I'd probably win.

"I was a little worried that I was going to be too tired to go at the finale," said Fairly, who was part of a previous break absorbed 60 kilometres from the finish. "Floyd told me 'you'll get your chance, just keep an eye on me'. He attacked, I went up to him and we just motored all the way to the finish line."

The decision to work together was an easy one for Fairly and Landis, as the pair had trained together in California over the winter. "I'm a young guy and he's a veteran of the sport and I think he wanted to help the young guys," said Fairly.

The 200km Tour of the Battenkill, two laps of a hilly 100km circuit winding through rural upstate countryside on both asphalt and dirt roads, played to Fairly's strengths

"If you look at all the results I've had it's always in races like this: a race of attrition, really long, with short, punchy climbs. Last year I got second in the queen stage of the Olympia's Tour [in the Netherlands] which is kind of like a mini-Amstel Gold so this is definitely my style of racing.

"This race is definitely one of the coolest races in the country,” he added. “America needs more races like this with the Classics feel and the long distance."

Behind, a two-man chase battled for the final podium spot, with Fly V Australia's Jay Thomson outsprinting Luca Damiani (Kenda-Geargrinder) for third 19 seconds behind Landis. The duo were originally a trio in pursuit of Fairly and Landis, but Andres Pereyra (Jamis-Sutter Home) fell off the pace and was absorbed back into the field.

"Floyd put in an attack and by the time I got going he already had a bit of a gap," said Thomson. "I was really disappointed I couldn't get across. We definitely had the riders to win today, but you can't win them all, although we're certainly going to try."

For Damiani, the Tour of the Battenkill was the Italian's first race for his new team and he was focused on delivering a result.

"Unfortunately I saw Floyd's move too late," said Damiani. "I knew that was a good one so I jumped with the other two guys. Those two [Fairly and Landis] were just going too fast for us on the dirt sections. We were working hard, but they were just going faster.

"The course was hard, but the cold and the rain was the difference," he added.

Kenneth Hanson (Team Type 1) won the bunch gallop for fifth from a field dramatically reduced by attrition.

Mud and misery in upstate New York

While the previous weekend's amateur edition of the Tour of the Battenkill took place in sunny weather and dry roads, rain had moved into the area in the days approaching Sunday's inaugural UCI-sanctioned version, leaving a slick sheen on the dirt roads comprising 25 percent of the course.

The 166-strong field rolled out of Cambridge's Main Street at 11 A.M. under overcast skies and temperatures in the mid-40s Fahrenheit, but the dry tarmac would soon turn damp under the intermittent rain which ranged from mist to steady downpour throughout the afternoon.

While the first significant attack didn't occur until kilometre 90, the steady tempo being set by the professional teams at the head of the race had already significantly reduced the size of the peloton to less than half its original size. Through each of the circuit's eight single-lane dirt sections a steady procession of riders were gapped off and never able to regain contact once the race returned to asphalt.

As the field set out on its second and concluding lap, an attack by 11 riders steadily began to distance itself from the peloton. Included in the break were Jonathan Tiernan-Lock and Darren Lapthorne (Rapha Condor-Sharp), Aaron Kemps, Bernard Sulzberger and David Tanner (Fly V Australia), Jason Donald (Bahati Racing), William Dugan (Team Type 1), Tyler Wren (Jamis-Sutter Home), Phil Gaimon and Nick Waite (Kenda-Gear Grinder) and Caleb Fairly (Holowesko Partners).

As the escapees crossed the covered bridge in Eagleville and entered the first section of dirt their advantage stood at one minute. Through the next several sections of dirt the lead increased to 2:15 minutes when Kemps made a solo attack. The break looked promising with only two of the eight professional teams absent from the escape, but what little cohesion the move had reduced to nothing once Kemps went solo.

"We thought it was the right move to be in but I think Fly V was too strong and showed its dominance in the group," said Lapthorne. "The rest of the guys didn't work that well and when Aaron Kemps attacked that was the end of the break. We were getting caught quickly by the peloton, decided to sit up and hopefully bring it back from there."

"Having the break split up with Aaron up the road wasn't the ideal thing for us," said Thomson. "Then when Jamis got on the front and chased that kind of threw a spanner in the works."

The 10 riders gapped by Kemps were absorbed by the Jamis-led field with 60 km remaining. Kemps persevered on his own until the outskirts of Greenwich, New York, after a lengthy stretch of pavement which allowed easy organisation by the chasers. A field reduced to approximately 40 riders were ready to contest the Tour of the Battenkill's endgame with 40km remaining.

Approaching the fifth dirt section only 10 kilometres later, Landis launched an attack and was immediately joined by Fairly. A chasing trio of Thomson, Damiani and Pereyra closed to within 20 seconds, but soon found their deficit increasing as they were unable to keep the pace of Landis and Fairly on the dirt roads.

On the eighth and final dirt section, the climb of Stage Road beginning at 10km to go, Fairly dispatched of Landis and crested the summit with a 30-second lead. After emerging onto asphalt for a lightning descent and a flat final six kilometres into Cambridge, Fairly continued to increase his lead and crossed the finish line emphatically pumping his fists with joy for the biggest win of his career. Landis would just hold off the chasing duo of Thomson and Damiani, with Thomson rounding out the podium.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Caleb Fairly (USA) Holowesko Partners4:57:07
2Floyd Landis (USA) Bahati Foundation0:02:24
3Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Fly V Australia0:02:43
4Luca Damiani (Ita) Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Gear GrinderRow 3 - Cell 2
5Ken Hanson (USA) Team Type 10:03:44
6Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 5 - Cell 2
7Alex Howes (USA) Holowesko PartnersRow 6 - Cell 2
8Alex Dowsett (GBr) Trek LivestrongRow 7 - Cell 2
9Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 8 - Cell 2
10Aaron Kemps (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Jamis-Sutter Home p/b ColavitaRow 10 - Cell 2
12Daniel Summerhill (USA) Holowesko PartnersRow 11 - Cell 2
13Charles Dionne (Can) Fly V AustraliaRow 12 - Cell 2
14Pavel Gonda (Cze) Garneau-Club ChaussuresRow 13 - Cell 2
15Dean Downing (GBr) Rapha Condor-Sharp0:03:45
16Andres Ignacio Pereyra (Arg) Jamis-Sutter Home p/b ColavitaRow 15 - Cell 2
17Thomas Rabou (Ned) Team Type 1Row 16 - Cell 2
18Dylan McNicholas (USA) CCB Wheelworks0:03:46
19Steve Tilford (USA) Haymarket Bicycles-HomevisitRow 18 - Cell 2
20Tom Coupe (USA) BikeReg-CannondaleRow 19 - Cell 2
21Daniel Zmolik (Cze) CRCA-AXA Equitable Cycling TeamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Mark Hekman (USA) Team Mountain Khakis Fueled by Jittery JoesRow 21 - Cell 2
23Derrick St John (Can) Garneau-Club ChaussuresRow 22 - Cell 2
24David Tanner (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 23 - Cell 2
25Aaron Fillion (Can) Ride With RendallRow 24 - Cell 2
26Joey Rosskopf (USA) Team Mountain Khakis Fueled by Jittery JoesRow 25 - Cell 2
27Robbie Squire (USA) Holowesko PartnersRow 26 - Cell 2
28Jacob Rytlewski (USA) Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Gear Grinder0:03:47
29Michael Mathis (USA) CRCA-AXA Equitable Cycling TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Andy Guptill (USA) Jamis-Sutter Home p/b ColavitaRow 29 - Cell 2
31Thimothy Roe (Aus) Trek LivestrongRow 30 - Cell 2
32Alex Hagman (USA) Bahati FoundationRow 31 - Cell 2
33Taylor Sheldon (USA) Holowesko Partners0:03:48
34Jason Donald (USA) Bahati FoundationRow 33 - Cell 2
35Cameron Cogburn (USA) CCB WheelworksRow 34 - Cell 2
36James Driscoll (USA) Jamis-Sutter Homes p/b Colavita0:03:49
37Hayden Brooks (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Alec Donahue (USA) Wheelhouse RacingRow 37 - Cell 2
39Jonathan Tiernan-Lock (GBr) Rapha Condor-SharpRow 38 - Cell 2
40David Kemp (Aus) Fly V Australia0:03:52
41Andrew Randell (Can) Spidertech p/b Planet EnergyRow 40 - Cell 2
42Benjamin Day (Aus) Fly V AustraliaRow 41 - Cell 2
43William Dugan (USA) Team Type 10:03:57
44Kristian House (GBr) Rapha Condor-Sharp0:04:14
45Tyler Wren (USA) Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita0:05:47
46Bobby Lea (USA) Bahati Foundation0:06:41
47Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Rapha Condor-SharpRow 46 - Cell 2
48Walker Savidge (USA) Holowesko Partners0:06:42
49Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 10:07:30
50Benjamin King (Aus) Trek Livestrong0:08:57
51Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Type 10:15:31
52Kevin Wolfson (USA) IFracing.org0:18:58
53Nick Frey (USA) Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita0:22:53
54Jackie Simes (USA) Jamis-Sutter Home p/b ColavitaRow 53 - Cell 2
55Jean-Sebastien Perron (Can) Garneau-Club Chaussures0:22:54
56Michael Margarite (USA) CRCA-AXA Equitable Cycling TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Cory Burns (USA) Champion System RacingRow 56 - Cell 2
58Justin Lindine (USA) BikeReg-CannondaleRow 57 - Cell 2
59Jared Nieters (USA) Haymarket Bicycles-HomevisitRow 58 - Cell 2

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.

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