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North Carolina Grand Prix - Race 2 - C2
Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA, November 23, 2008
Race 2 - November 23: Elite Men
Bishop sweeps weekend's racing
By Peter Hymas in Hendersonville, North Carolina
Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/Volkswagen) decided to forego the heart-stopping theatrics of Saturday's tight victory over Russell Stevenson (Redline Bikes) by soloing in for first place instead on Sunday, 23 seconds ahead of his two former breakaway companions Stevenson and Steve Tilford (Trek) at Jackson Park. Stevenson replicated his second place finish from the previous day by narrowly out-sprinting race protagonist Tilford who finished in third place.
Tilford attacked an initial selection of 12 riders at the beginning of the second lap and was immediately joined by Stevenson. One lap later, Bishop bridged to the duo and the three riders steadily increased their lead over a seemingly complacent chase group. Bishop finally separated himself from Stevenson and Tilford on the penultimate lap of the nine lap event.
"I was feeling a lot more spry today," said Bishop. "I had better legs. I had my first 'cross race in three weeks on Saturday. I was in the pain cave yesterday. I was really psyched to be able to pull it off but it was by the skin of my teeth. Today I felt good and could make the moves I wanted."
Each of the three riders who finished on the podium came into Sunday's race with a plan to go on the attack early. "I really wanted to not shadow box today, just go out early and make it hard," said Stevenson. "Tilford attacked on the second lap. That was a little unexpected and we all sort of watched. I was feeling good and went across to him. A lap later here comes Jeremiah [Bishop] and then there it was. We kept a pretty good pace. I felt a lot better today. Usually I ride better on day two. I had a little less snap but a bigger motor.
"I was surprised at how strong Tilford was," continued Stevenson. "I haven't really raced against that guy in a long time. In the end Tilford and I were rubbing elbows. But you know it's all good. It's just racing and in the end I got him."
The evergreen Tilford wanted to redeem himself after an unsatisfying seventh place on Saturday. "I like to race from the front," said Tilford. "Yesterday I kind of had the same idea but I flatted pretty early. I have to ride hard for an hour. I can't just be sitting in a group of 10 and sprinting at the end. This is the first year I haven't gone down to New Zealand for a late season stage race. I usually go down there and do the stage race and I don't have to worry about form [during 'cross season]. Now I'm flying every Monday and Friday and I'm thinking 'I'm only training on Wednesdays'. I have to make use of the weekends."
When Tilford and Stevenson attacked on the second lap, an ad hoc game plan of Trek-sponsored riders went into effect with Jonathan Baker's mechanical woes as a catalyst for Bishop.
"Tilford was a teammate of convenience," said Bishop. "It was really cool because with Tilford riding for Trek and myself riding for Trek we were able to forge a very temporary alliance. We got a select group after one lap and then I noticed Baker had an issue. So I thought, 'Uh oh, he's one of the favorites'. When these guys [Tilford and Stevenson] went and started to make a selection I knew this is it."
Tilford was pleased to see Bishop bridge to his break with Stevenson on the third lap. "Jeremiah and I both ride for Trek," said Tilford. "Jeremiah let me get off the front early and I knew he was going to be coming up. I was glad he came up on his own so he was doing me a favor there, too."
Once the break was firmly established and its lead consistently increased, a series of feints, attacks, and counter-attacks characterized their actions. "Tilford is as savvy as a rattlesnake," said Bishop. "He can draft and make the moves and he'll work with you just enough to get himself where he wants to be. If Tilford went I wasn't going to chase. That really softened Russell up. It also made it easier for Steve to sit on if I attacked. So the combination of the two of us working on Russell made it a little bit easier."
Tilford jokingly commented on his frustration with his breakaway companions. "I was with the worst two guys-both tacticians," said Tilford. "Jeremiah was riding like me! It was three tacticians in a group. Arguably I needed more UCI points then those guys so I was willing to work."
The only hiccup in Bishop's strategy while riding in the break concerned a crash he had on the fifth lap prior to 'The Wall'. "The thing that was most frustrating about that little crash was I was trying to put the pressure on at that point to get away," said Bishop. "I was starting to just stretch them out a little bit so I was kind of on the rivet. The hillside was kind of corroding after two days of racing and I slid out and was kind of shocked. I didn't really crash but I laid it down. My left lever bent in at a 45 degree angle and so I'm racing the whole next lap with this funky lever situation.
"Once I caught back on I found a good place in the road where I could wrench it back straight," continued Bishop. "Then it is was game on. I knew I had a good shot at it. It was a matter of picking the right time."
Stevenson was at the front of the leading trio when Bishop crashed and had to make an immediate decision about his tactics. "Jeremiah kind of slipped out right at the base of 'The Wall'," said Stevenson. "I guess I sort of upped it but I didn't exactly attack. I thought that's not quite the way to do things. Maybe that's my problem as to why I haven't won more races. I need to be less cordial and just hit it."
Tilford knew it was only a matter of time before Bishop would put in his effort to win from the break. "I knew when Jeremiah sat on for a lap that we were in for some hurt," said Tilford. "I knew it was going to be short-lived racing for first. I just didn't see him doing it on the pavement. That was a good move."
Bishop planned his attack at the beginning of the eight lap to counter a lengthy effort on the front by Tilford. "The decisive move was up here on the pavement after the finish line," said Bishop. "I popped out onto the pavement with a couple of bike lengths and just jammed on it. This was right after Tilford had taken a pretty good pull so I knew Tilford was going to hop on Russell's wheel. That would really cause a stall in the chase. All I need is a small stall in the chase so I can get to a steady time trial pace."
While the three-man break was deciding the final podium positions out in front, a nine rider group rode together for much of the race until finally fracturing on the penultimate lap. Riders present in this group included teammates Bart Gillespie and Mitchell Peterson (Monavie/Cannondale), Jake Wells (MafiaRacing.com/Pabst), Eric Thompson (Lees-McRae College), Will Black (Moots), Travis Livermon (Cannondale/CCN), Nathanael Wyatt (Carolina Fatz p/b Santa Cruz Bicycles), Michael Gallagher (C3-Sollay.com) and Charles Pendry (Inland Construction Cycling Team).
Baker, who was looking to better his third place finish on Saturday, was also present in this group until his second mishap of the day ended his race on the fifth lap. "I flatted on the second lap and I had to chase for about a lap and a half," said Baker. "Bishop took the opportunity to bridge up to the front during this time. I was kind of stuck in that second group. The air was a little low in the tires on my B-bike so it wasn't doing too great in the corners. I wound up crashing into a post over by the baseball field and broke my shifter, hurt my shoulder and my bars were all twisted. I decided to call it a day at that point."
Gillespie and Wells were prominent on the front of the chase group, but their efforts alone were not able to bring back the break. "It seemed like the chase group was pretty content with having those three guys battle it out," said Wells. "The rest of us battled for fourth place. It was a big group of guys, but it didn't seem like a whole bunch of guys were doing much work. There was a little bit of headwind out there so things would come back together."
Wyatt, who finished a strong fifth on the day, was one of the riders more content to ride for fourth, in his case due to health issues. "I've been fighting a cold all week. I was feeling under the weather and was coughing. I tried not to expend too much energy. It was group racing. I knew the guys we were with and I figured it would bust up the last couple of laps, and it did. Then Bart went on the climb [on the final lap] and killed everybody. I tried to capitalize on that and it worked. I got on Travis' [Livermon] wheel and caught him at the end which is good."
Many of the riders present for the North Carolina Grand Prix utilized the weekend of racing as one of their final preparations for the upcoming national championships, including race winner Bishop. "If I'm going to do nationals then I'm going to get some races in and get the edge on a little bit," said Bishop. "I've been prodded and basically talked into going to nationals by a number of different people. I've got nothing to lose which is cool since it's not my specialty. I'm really looking forward to it. Cyclo-cross is just a real festive scene. Everyone just has that zeal for riding it that shines through."
1 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek/Volkswagen 1.00.46 2 Russell Stevenson (USA) Redline Bikes 0.23 3 Stephen Tilford (USA) Trek 0.27 4 Bart Gillespie (USA) Monavie/Cannondale 1.11 5 Nathanael Wyatt (USA) Carolina Fatz pb Santa Cruz Bicycles 1.14 6 Travis Livermon (USA) Cannondale / CCN 1.16 7 Jake Wells (USA) MafiaRacing.com/Pabst 1.19 8 Charles Pendry (USA) Inland Construction Cycling Team 1.23 9 Michael Gallagher (USA) C3-Sollay.com 1.45 10 Eric Thompson (USA) Lees-McRae 1.56 11 Will Black (USA) Moots 2.21 12 Mitchell Peterson (USA) Monaviecannondale.com 3.01 13 Bradford Perley (USA) Lees-McRae College 3.08 14 Nathan Chown (Can) 3.20 15 Andrew Applegate (USA) cannondale / ccn 3.48 16 Greg Wittwer (USA) ALAN North America Cycling Team 4.19 17 Robert Marion (USA) Kenda/Titus/Hayes 4.57 18 Justin Hines (Can) 6.10 19 Alex Ryan (USA) Cannondale/CCN 6.32 20 Andrew Reardon (USA) Krystal Cycling Team 7.10 21 Aaron Bradford (USA) Lees-McRae College 7.16 One lap down 22 Stuart Louder (USA) ALAN North American Cycling Team 23 Phillip Gaimon (USA) Fiordifrutta 24 Bryan Schoeffler (USA) TEAM OSP DNF Jonathan Baker (USA) Vitamin Cottage p/b XP Companies DNF Thomas Lebosquet (USA) Independent Fabrication/FT p/b Lionette's DNF Ryan Leech (USA) visitPA.com DNF Andrew Llewellyn (USA) Calistoga Bakery & Cafe DNF Matthew Rotroff (USA) Inland Construction