Race Report: Gorge Roubaix

O racer Tyler Aquino lets us in on his Gorge Roubaix victory. Get the details on how he snagged the W (chased in by O’s Greg Kell and Will Hahn in 3 + 4) here:

 

“I’ve been looking forward to this race since moving to Oregon, and was undoubtedly disappointed when I had found out that they were not putting this race on the schedule.  Luckily, others felt the same and the amount of interest persuaded Breakaway Promotions to put it back on. So, my first shoutout is a huge thanks to them. Hopefully this race continues in the following years.

The Gorge is, and was, incredible venue and amazing place to be on a bike. With this race one of the most mountainous on our calendar, I was pretty excited to test my abilities on the long 20-minute climb up Dry Creek.

My goal in the race was to save as much energy as possible until the final climb, where I would attack at some point. I think I did this pretty well, which was surprising because I typically get excited – especially on climbs – and go a little too hard too early. But, with this being a race I had been targeting, I stuck to the plan.

The race started out pretty slow. We were riding along and soaking up the panoramic views of the Gorge. As we approached Rowena, Emmett started going with attacks and pushing the pace, but nobody was responding. In his words, “Nobody wanted to party” – or something like that. I can’t remember.

The pace finally started to pick up as we hit the initial climb, about 15 miles into the race. Team Oregonian, Greg, was at the front pushing the pace. I’m still not sure if he was attacking or just bored, but he had opened some gaps off the front that people had to work decently hard to close. This was pretty essential towards the end of the race. A few riders would jump across to Greg each time he rolled off the front, and I would tag along with them in case one of these little accelerations stuck. None of them did, and I was sitting pretty comfortably as we peaked the climb and had noticed that we had dropped nearly half the field as we hit the descent. As we descended, I sat in the back of the group trying to refuel with some Honey Stinger gels and some Nuun to make sure that I was as prepared as possible for the final ascension.

During this downhill drag back to the base of the climb, Kyle Berg, from Holtey Law, rolled off the front and had started the climb with a bit of a gap. I was feeling good at this point and saw this move as carrot to try to get to later.

The second climb started out pretty slow with Greg on the front again, along with some other teams. About 5 minutes into the climb everyone decided to stop working to close the gap to Kyle. Team O rider Will Hahn started antagonizing other teams to get the front to do some work. I used this opportunity of distraction to launch my initial attack on the climb.

I went pretty hard and had opened a gap, but I looked back and saw one of the stronger climbers putting in an effort to bring me back. So, I eased off and waited for him to continue burning the match getting to me, and immediately attacked again. This time the gap opened and no one was closing it. I had targeted Kyle up the road and quickly reached him. I was hoping to catch on his wheel to recover a bit but he was cooked and I rode past him. I was putting in a pretty hard effort for my standards, when I looked back and saw Greg (after all of his work in the earlier pats of the race) bridging to me with a Tenspeed Hero rider. Originally, I thought I saw the whole field on his wheel and told him I was disappointed, but he only had one other rider. Sorry, Greg. It was a pretty impressive display of power jumping across.

The three of us crested the final climb with a bit of a gap and worked together really well on the descent and rolling hills leading to the major Rowena descent. Greg led us into the descent with the Tenspeed Hero rider between the two of us. Unsure of how we were going to play the last couple of kilometers to the finish, Greg unknowingly started to open a gap to the Tenspeed Hero on the descent as he struggled on the descent. I allowed the gap to open and provided no assistance to closing it.

At the bottom of the descent, with 10k to go, Greg had a gap of nearly 20 seconds. Knowing that I wasn’t going to provide any help, the Tenspeed Hero rider was forced to pursue Greg with me sitting on his wheel. He made a more than valiant effort to bring Greg back as I struggled to hold his wheel at times. As we hit the 2k to go, Greg still had a gap and I still had hope that he was going to hold it off and we would go 1,2. But, Greg faded pretty hard leading into the last kilometer and the Tenspeed Hero rider caught him with roughly 500 meters to go. So close! As he caught Greg, I attacked him after sitting on for the last 10k and immediately got the gap and knew I had the win. I crossed the line in slight disbelief that we had won, and Greg rolled in for 3rd place. I’m still slightly bummed Greg couldn’t hold it off for the 1,2, but I guess I okay with the win.

About a minute and a half, according to the posted times, Will Hahn finished in fourth place after cresting the last climb right behind us and drilling it to the finish with one other rider and sprinting it out.

Overall, the team worked tremendously together, and I don’t think we could have done anything different. Without the team pushing the pace at the beginning and the first time up Dry Creek, I’m not sure we would have had the same result. Huge kudos to them, and anyone else who raced this weekend for Team Oregon and supported this race after being put back on the calendar. Even if your race didn’t go as well as ours did, I’m sure it was well worth the struggles and trip out there to race this beautiful course.”