The record time (set in '97) for this 90 mile course is about 2:45, over 30mph average. However, as the race draws a higher caliber field the average speed actually decreases. Riders are reluctant to attack early knowing the power of the sprinters' teams.
Four $500 primes are enough to motivate a six-man breakaway after a couple of very slow (24mph/40kph average) laps. Unfortunately we haven't placed any 7UP/Colorado Cyclist riders in the move, which does contain USPS, Mercury, Saturn, Navigators, and MROZ. We're hoping the Saeco, Mapei, and Domo teams will do something about it but they are completely unconcerned as the break's lead grows to two minutes. Just as we begin to organize four riders to set a tempo that will keep the gap from ballooning, the Mercury rider has a mechanical and is dropped out of the break. Mercury starts a blazing three lap chase. Coming out of the park at the far end of the course we're hitting 40mph, single file against the curb. At this rate all you can do is maintain contact with the rider ahead of you. Then I flatted on a pothole while traversing the cobbles at the city end of the course. Instead of getting a feed, drinking, and conserving energy I was forced into an all-out chase that took 5mi/8km. I had been able to get going again inside the caravan but the cars were all over the place and on/off the gas pedal. I was up to car #4 and could see the tail end of the splintering single file peloton. Climbing the feed hill in the park, a Mercury rider flatted. His team car stopped suddenly right in the middle of the road, blocking the rest of the caravan. I had to weave around several cars and by the time I was past the caravan the gap to the back of the field was huge. Rather than panic I just waited for the cars to come back up. Once I was close to the peloton Charles came back to help me.
Mercury was detonating as the leaders came into sight. Meanwhile Saeco's Commesso was getting into a fight with our Dave McCook. These two have no love lost as Commesso had intentionally crashed Dave last year at Trenton, last lap. This year's incident began with Commesso chopping Dave off of Doug's wheel. Dave chopped him back. Commesso landed a kidney punch, and Dave retailated with a full waterbottle to the back of the neck. Commesso's response was a poorly-aimed waterbottle at Dave's face, which instead connected with another Euro guy (who then raised a big fuss). The skirmish broke up. Hey, wasn't Commesso the guy who recently got busted for cocaine? He should take his drugs and his "I'm a euro baddass" attitude back over the pond to the land of lubed-to-the-gills riders (see Giro D'Italia reports). By the way, it's too bad that the media have selected European cycling as the sport to crucify, since every professional sport is riddled with performance enhancing drugs.
In the finale Kevin, Charles and I were together in the top 20. Unfortunately I failed to hook up with Kev as the US Postal leadout train hammered us all into submission.
Today on the morning recovery ride along the bike path to Valley Forge we had a bit of a showdown with Saeco. We all stopped while Commesso poked his forefinger into Dave's arm, shouting in Italian. Probably saying something like "don't you know who I am?" Dave stayed cool, and the rest of the Saeco team seemed to think it was just one of those things that happens in a race and that it should be forgotten. We rolled away from each other without further escalation, but I don't think Dave will soon forget getting purposely taken down at Trenton '00. To him it isn't just "one of those things".
'Til Sunday then.