by, Joseph Schmalz
I decided to head down to Hermann, Missouri and do the Stone Hill Winery Tour of Hermann this past weekend. I would be racing as a “One Man Wolf Pack” since the rest of my teammates were doing the Matrix Challenge in Dallas or back home training, but I thought it would be good training for the Joe Martin SR this weekend. Hermann is an old German community located right along the Missouri River surrounded by rolling hills with historic buildings, great German food, bed and breakfasts and wineries on just about every corner. There are festivals of some sort almost every weekend during the summer and this past weekend was no exception, as I think there were at least three different events going on. The atmosphere in the town was awesome. People were everywhere and during the crit spectators were cheering us up the hill each lap.
The race was a 2 day, three-stage race starting Saturday morning with a 23k time trial. The time trial went well, I felt really good on the bike and I finished second which was better than expected since it’s the longest time trial I’ve done all year. That evening was the criterium. It was a challenging 1.0 mile course with a hill top finish at the Stone Hill Winery. I was able to get away with two other riders early in the race and we were able to gain a rather large gap over the chasing field. I attacked on the last lap and came across the finish solo.
The next morning was the 90 mile road race around Hermann. I knew it was going to be challenging. First, by winning the crit the night before I had taken the overall race lead and needed to defend on the last day; and second, from looking at the race profile we had +8,000 feet of climbing ahead of us. After talking to a few people who had done the race in the past, I learned the race always reshuffled on the last lap and only small groups and individual riders at the finish.
This year was not much different. At the start of the last lap there were two lone riders in the front followed by a small chase group and then the field about five minutes back. I was in the field trying to bide my time. Once we started the third lap I decided to give it a big dig on the big climb out of town. It worked and I was able to split the field and then rode away with Chris Winn and Austin Allison, both riding for the Horizon’s Organic team from Colorado. They both were riding really well and I was a bit out numbered. I felt pretty good and knew if we started catching the other riders that it would add to the confusion and I might be able to use that to my advantage. After a fairly hard chase the three of us where able to catch every one in front and after the reshuffle there was a front group of six riders and everyone else was starting to look fatigued. With about seven miles to go there was a little hesitation in the group and I attacked splitting the group in half. By doing so I was able to separate Austin from his teammate which was the best scenario for me. The three of us rotated all the way into town and it came down to a sprint and I was able to hold off the other two for the win!
All in all it was a great weekend! The race went just about as well as it could have. It was fun and I was able to come home with the overall win and some good Missouri wine… believe it or not it’s pretty good.☺