Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race
I never met Iris, but from what I’ve read and heard, she was a woman with a great personality and drive. She was often seen riding on the roads in Mineral Wells, TX, taking in the beautiful area. She was taken from this world too early while riding on those roads. She was a big advocate for cycling in Mineral Wells and surrounding areas. May she rest in peace, and smile upon us while we race in her name.
A stage race during this time of year is hard to pull off. People are just dusting off the bike and putting in miles. To make it easier for people to come, the promoter runs it as a point-based stage race. One cool thing about racing in Texas is that most promoters run a pro- and cat 1-only race with nice prize lists. There are 3 stages in two days. Saturday is an early morning crit, followed by a break, then a TT. Sunday is the queen stage, a 75 mile road race with sprint and KOM points.
Saturday’s race would have been described as a crashfest by most people. I think people had excessive tire pressure for one corner and they were washing out. We had one rider go down 2 times in the same corner. Towards the end of the race, the Watt Posse had a great advantage from stacking 3 riders out of six in the front group. We thought for sure we could pull off the win. With maybe 2 to go, Caleb Fuchs (Think Finance p/b Mercy) attacked with Nicolai Brøchner (BISSELL-ABG-GIANT) and Hunter East (Oklahoma City Velo Club). That attack gapped Collin Davis, Ryan Dromgoole, and me. Caleb has a huge engine in him, so I threw down the watts and brought it back, ending my race. After that, we had Collin and Ryan going for the win. Going into the last lap, Collin crashed at “the corner.” We were dropping like flies. Ryan tried his hardest in the sprint and ended up 4th. Nicolai ended up winning the race, with Caleb 2nd and Hunter 3rd.
The TT played out as expected, Caleb winning by over a minute over Greg Hercules (PACC/Watt Posse). Nicolai had some sort of problem with his bike and ended up last. The good thing that came out of the TT was that we ended up with enough points to take the lead in the team competition.
The individual GC was all going to come down to the Sunday road race, with its sprint and KOM points. We needed Ryan to win all the sprint and KOM points and to place well if he was going to win the race. Five miles in, the break was established. Ryan made the break with me, Hunter, Nicolai, and two Think Finance p/b Mercy guys. Jason Short (PACC/Watt Posse) bridged up shortly after. The situation was great for us. All Ryan had to do was beat Caleb and we would take the individual GC.
We rolled hard with Nicolai, Jason, and me driving the pace. The first lap sprint turned into a drag race between Nicolai and Ryan. Ryan came out second. Going into the KOM, Nicolai took full points and again Ryan got second. The second sprint ended the same. The kid was moving himself up the GC fast. At that point, we were sure the break was going to go the distance with a 3 minute gap on the field.
We were wrong.
It turned out that Caleb had dropped everyone and was bridging across solo at a fast pace. I think their riders knew so they started to sit in. At some point, I just happened to look back and I saw Caleb 25 meters away, powering up to sprint around us. I got Ryan on my wheel and pulled him back. This was not good. If we had known he was going to come across, Nicolai, Jason, and I would have driven the break really hard. At that point, it was up to Caleb and Nicolai to win the race, so we sat in.
Ryan was the virtual leader with one big hill to get over. Caleb and Nicolai attacked, and Jason followed, but it was clear Ryan was going to need some help. Jason dropped back to help me pace him up. Once we reached the top, Caleb and Nicolai were riding hard to get away. At that point, Jason and I had to pull them back to give Ryan a chance for the overall. At first, we were doing it. Our whole race came down to one moment. We needed them back, but we just couldn’t do it. They were putting out watts and we just couldn’t sustain the power needed to pull them back. Our next goal was to make sure Ryan came in 3rd, which he did with a long sprint.
We knew the points were going to be close for the individual GC. It ended up as a 3-way tie! How’s that for some good racing? The tie-breaker was the road race finish, so we ended up 3rd in the individual GC and 1st in the team ranking. Looking back, every sprint point counted. If we would have got the point offering in the crit, Ryan would have won. Had he taken a sprint on the road, Ryan would have won. Considering the talent that was ahead of Ryan, we were happy with 3rd. More importantly, we were happy winning the team classification. It’s going to be a great year–WATT UP!