Hello NorCal race fans.
We have a dispatch straight from the streets of Nicaragua by Dana Bardolph – recounting the opening stage for the all NorCal IRT Racing Team.
Blake Anton is a San Luis Obispo icon – he’s the bearded wonder, the staggeringly tough hardman who loves to bash a race like a smiling viking. I love watching this guy race a bike.
Nathanael Christensen is a straight arrow shot out of the Sierra foothills. He’s smart, cool under pressure, and knows it’s all about hard work. Good California stock.
William Myers is pure strongman. He’s like a circus performer on a bike – feats of strength and all that. Watching Willie race a bike is like watching lightning strike.
Randy Bramblett! The superhunk of NorCal knows the business of biking. And yup … it’s business time.
Thanks for reading the team’s report from the Vuelta!
Wednesday, October 23:
Saludos de Managua, where the 2013 Vuelta a Nicaragua is in full swing.
While the race rules that were rattled off in lightning fast Spanish may have gone over the Californian’s heads on the first day, the IRT Racing Team quickly picked up the important phrases, like the word “más?” when filling up on plates of the local cuisine.
With 80 fellow riders from Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, Team IRT hit the mean streets of Managua on Wednesday for the first stage, a 118km road race, of the Vuelta a Nicaragua. The race was beset by heat, humidity, horse carts, and harrowing near-misses with oncoming semis. After a 10 km neutral roll, in which riders were required to dodge stalled vans amidst blaring car horns, attacks started flying and Team IRT sprinter Willie Myers was quick to join in..
Thanks to a slight downhill and tailwind, attacks were nonstop for the first hour of the race. Nathanael Christensen and Randy Bramblett traded attacks in order to to soften the field during the first 40 km in order to set up Blake Anton for a possible late race breakaway.
Shortly before the first intermediate sprint, Anton bridged to a small group that had established a gap. With sustained effort, the nine riders built a solid gap on the field, as smoking volcanoes, and packs of dogs, scattered in front of the peloton. The group worked well together for the next 20 km until the turnaround, but when the boys started back towards the next intermediate sprint, several riders started sitting on, at which point the and attacks started up again..
A Guatemalan rider, Luis Santizo from the Hino Pizza Hut team, established a 15 second gap on the group, and Anton was forced to attack and bridge solo. Anton caught him just before the intermediate sprint at which point the two riders worked together for the next 50km.
A breakaway group of 7 riders chased within 25-30 seconds of the leaders, but Anton and Santizo were able to maintain their gap. Blak won the two-up sprint, finishing 30 seconds in front of the chase group and four minutes up on the field. This was especially challenging since there was no way to gauge the proximity of the finish due to all the sign markers being stolen the night before the race!
Fantastic finish for Team IRT, replete with cheering locals, school kids shyly smiling for autographs, and plenty of hard-earned sweat on a balmy 93 degree morning.
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