Sam Scores a Podium at Niagara Classic

Newest member of the team, Sam O'Donnell scored a podium on the weekend in the E4 race at the Niagara Classic road race. He managed to take 2nd place in the bunch sprint. Here's a report from Sam on how things went down:

Sam in the 2nd spot on the podium.

For the short period of time that I've been racing the Niagara classic has been one of my favourite races. The course had some changes this year from the previous editions: the start/finish is now located on Metler drive. So, on the last lap, instead of finishing on the hill, you take a left hand corner about half-way down Effingham dr before the steep part of the climb. About 500m after that corner was the finish. Right after the corner was a slight downhill of 2-3% or so, and then a ramp of 2-4% for 400m. 

On the first lap a guy rode away, caught the M3's and tried to pass them. It was pretty funny when the group decided to bring him back in the second lap and you could see him sitting at the front of the M3 pack! 

After we caught and passed the M3's (which entailed a bit of confusion), the pace of the E4 pack slowed down quite a bit, and the next lap or so we were caught by the M3's. It was pretty hilarious. Everyone was getting worked up about it and a couple of the guys from our category thought it would be a good time to launch an offensive move! Of course they were called back by the commissaries and we were told to separate the groups, etc. 

Throughout the race, someone would drive the pace over the top of the climb and I would follow, and put in a few pulls at the bottom of the descent. But, there was no real break away, just people being dropped. I never really felt like I was in difficulty in this race for an extended period of time. I would certainly be feeling it over the top of the climb, but other than that I felt good. Though, the final 2 or 3 km were pretty hard, of course...

On the final time up the climb (last lap), the pace was driven by the eventual winner. I of course followed, 2 wheels back, and on the backside of the course we had about 9 guys. A rotation was started but it seemed kind of half-hearted (I was far from feeling like I was doing a TT effort). More riders latched on and eventually the rotation stopped. I went onto the front through the S corner and for the last 6-7km really focused on positioning and marking the guys in the race I knew would be looking to win. 

Through the twisty downhill I stayed pretty close to the front, but I was a little far back (7-10th) when we went through the corner at the bottom I stayed on the yellow line side and moved up to about 5th wheel or so and stayed behind the guy I marked at the Lake of Bays (I had a chat with him earlier, jokingly, about getting a good leadout from him this time... He said he'd be going for it so he'd be a good one to follow!) he ended up winning this race. We went pretty hard up the little ramp after the 2nd last corner; a guy attacked up it but didn't get much of a gap. I held my position and shortly before the final corner someone jumped (he finished 4th), the guy who won followed, and I followed him. We went through the corner and I lost the wheel in front pretty badly... About 2-3 bike lengths opened up. I chased and chased. The guy who jumped first faded, and the guy behind him looked back and then sprinted by him. I passed the guy who jumped first and kept sprinting but couldn't close the gap on the winner. Finished a couple bike lengths behind him.

Here's a nice video of the finish from the Beaches Cycling Club: