Race report: Tour of the Dragons

Two riders from the Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery men’s team competed in the Tour of the Dragons in Vermont over the weekend: Derrick St. John and Matteo Dal-Cin. Derrick tells the story:
Vermont Country Images: Tour of the Dragons 2013 - Day 2 &emdash; sIMG_2896

Derrick St. John during Stage 3 of the Tour of the Dragons

Stage 1 Individual time trial (17 km)

I can honestly say that was the coolest time trial course I have ever done.  Fairly technical rolling course with a few sweeping turns, some sharp turns and lots of places where you felt like you were going really fast. Not to mention the scenery was really nice.  Matteo broke an aero bar pad in the recon, but he made up for it by throwing down a really good ride on his road bike.
  • Winner: Scott Zwizanski (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
  • Derrick: 8th
  • Matteo: 26th
Stage 2 circuit race (107 km)
Less than three hours after the morning time trial, the tech guide had described the the 107-km, four-lap circuit as a “sprinter’s course.” What it failed to mention was that there was a 12-minute climb per lap on gravel with a fairly gnarly gravel descent.
We chose to try and sit back a bit, but this was the wrong tactic. The break went over the top of the first climb. Matteo was in great position and climbed really well.  He set tempo on the climb during the middle of the race and animated the race. I tried a dig on the last lap and managed to open it up a bit , but the pack was not interested in letting me ride away.
  • Winner: Mike Woods (Louis Garneau-Quebecor)
  • Derrick: 18th
  • Matteo: 21st
Stage 3 road race (195 km)
Poor road conditions meant a last-minute change of route, from the 202 km to 195, on almost as challenging a course. Once bitten by the early break the previous day, we had planned to not let this happen again. I was prepared to race hard from the gun.  I immediately found myself in the early break with ease, as following the right wheels it was almost too easy.  Sure enough, I heard that ominous “poosh” sound of a tubular flattening. At least Matteo was able to take advantage of seeing me stranded on the side of the road, and took the initiative to launch himself across to the break.
After getting a neutral wheel and chasing back I was able to follow race winner (and former Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery rider) Mike Woods across the gap to break that I was originally part of.
Things were now looking good for a few minutes as we had placed both our riders in the break! Until “poosh” the sound of another flat, this time a clincher, let me tell you that going downhill on a clincher flatting feels slightly unnerving. The wheel truck finally found me after I watched the break ride away, the chase group ride away, the peloton swoosh by and I finally got rolling again.  I started collecting riders, and we finally made it back to the group.
And only 175 km to go … So the pace was pathetic and I could feel the break getting to another state, so I figured I would attack up the next climb, might as well. So now I rode off the front of the group with another BikeReg.com rider and a Louis Garneau-Quebecor rider joined.  We rode hard, really hard. A group caught us up a really steep climb and the combination of pace climbs and previous stages took its toll on a reduced group that joined us.
Some of the GC leaders/contenders rolled like mad men on the flatter plateaus until former Tour de Beauce winner Scott Ziswanski (Optum) rode hard up a long hard climb with some steep pitches that just kept on going, Bruno Langlois (Louis Garneau)  jumped on his wheel as Kieth Kelly (Fit Werx Racing) did as well. I forced the bike across the gap to just make the tail end.
Since Ziswanski was leading the GC and Matteo was up the road, I was able to put it in cruise for while on flats.
In the final kilometres we caught the remaining members of the day’s break, who had managed to avoid flatting, bonking or blowing up. Unfortunately Matteo had underestimated his caloric needs for the day based on the pace of the break and had to pull out in the last feed zone.
There were two podium spots up for grabs. The attacks came with about eight kilometres to go, following the right ones would be key. I patiently waited until four kilometres to go  and was able to outsprint Erik Levinsohn (BikeReg.com) for third.
Not bad considering the day’s challenges …
  • Winner: Mike Woods
  • Derrick: 3rd
  • Matteo: DNF
Final overall:
  • Winner: Mike Woods
  • Derrick:7th

— Derrick St. John