Ringer takes Carmel race
A running joke in bike racing: allow the leg hair to completely grow back, wear a pair of black tube socks, find a generic jersey and shorts, and then proceed to win races with impunity. The point is that most bike racers are elitist snobs with no respect for anyone with hairy legs and a blank jersey. The fallacy inherent in that logic was made painfully obvious this last Saturday, June 24 in Carmel at the second installment of the NUVO/Tortuga team series. Hairy legs, a generic jersey and salad-bowl helmet: Chad Burdzilauskas fit the bill. None in the field were aware of his history of winning inline skate races throughout North America and Europe.
Burdzilauskas patiently waited until the perfect moment in the final laps of the race to make his presence known and then shocked his competitors with a bold race-winning attack. Texas Roadhouse started with a commanding early lead in the series after the Louisville race on June 10 and the remaining teams were keen to make up some lost ground. The first half of the one-hour event was fast, with numerous attacks from riders and teams that were eager to force a small group alone off the front. None were terribly successful as the nasty headwind on the open home stretch and lack of sufficient motivation from any escapees combined to doom each attempt. In cases such as this, it often takes only one rider to provide the spark needed to light up a race.
Bacardi-NUVO’s Declan Doyle sat near the back of the 40-rider field resting for much of the race. At the halfway point he finally engaged in a breakaway and spent the rest of the race off in the front in various groups. When one attack was absorbed, he immediately followed the resulting counter-attack. Jumping from group to group, Doyle organized the final breakaway of Hans Arnesen (Dogfish), Harry Clark (Texas Roadhouse), Burdzilauskas and himself in the final three laps.
The breakaway hovered in front of the main pack with a lead of about eight seconds. While Arnesen drove the break in the headwind, the Tortuga team pulled the field to within striking distance of the break but failed to seize their opportunity as the race neared its conclusion. With half of a lap remaining, Burdzilauskas burst off the front of the breakaway. He was dismissed by the others who were sure he would be caught when he hit the brick wall of the finishing straight’s headwind. Instead, Burdzilauskas powered to victory. Clark, Doyle and Arnesen finished in that order, ahead of the rest of the pack.
Bacardi-NUVO managed to tighten the gap between them and Texas Roadhouse but still have a lot of hard work ahead. Dogfish and Tortuga trail but remain within reach of second place in the series. The third race in the NUVO/Tortuga series will occur on July 20 in Zionsville. For more information, go to www.bacardinuvocycling.com. This competition is part of the larger Indiana Race Series (www.indianaraceseries.com). To see a video of the race, go to www.nuvo.net/multi.php