The team rode in the Mississippi Mils Grand Prix, held from June 7th to June 9th. The race was hosted by Ride with Rendall, and it consisted of four stages: a Friday evening road race, Saturday morning time trial, Saturday afternoon criterium, and a final 170km road race on Sunday.
We had a big crew participating, both on the bikes and as support. On the start line were Doug, Andrew, Greg B, Gerald, Marc, myself (Charlie), and a guest rider, Brandon Spencer (Mt. Borah/Minerva Design Cycling Team). As support, we had Hans as DS, whose insight and enthusiasm was invaluable all weekend. And on Sunday, Duncan joined Hans in the team car to help pass bottles, advice, and tend to mechanicals.
As per the team plan, Gerald and Brandon followed moves early in the Friday road race, ensuring the team didn't miss out on any critical breaks. Doug escaped in a 3 man move just after an intermediate sprint. The lull in pace was enough for the 3 riders to get away, and never be seen until after the finish. Behind, Charlie bridged to a dangerous chase group, policing the move to ensure Doug gained as much time as possible.
The time trial the next morning saw good rides from everyone on the team. Doug rode a strong time trial to keep himself up in the overall standing, putting himself into 2nd place overall going into the afternoon criterium.
The criterium, which took place in Almonte, consisted of a 9 corner circuit, with an uphill rise to the finish; a challenging course to say the least. The Stevens team were keen to take advantage of the technical circuit, and went on the offensive right away, putting two guys into a breakaway that would eventually lap the field. As a team, we were on the ropes for most of this one, but came out relatively unscathed, with Doug only dropping one spot on GC due to the Stevens' breakaway.
For the Sunday road race, we went into the race with a similar game plan to Friday's road race. Be attentive early, watch for moves, but not be too aggressive ourselves. With Doug sitting 3rd overall, there was minimal responsibility on the team's shoulders to chase moves. Mid-race saw the team come to the front to close down a move by a Stevens rider, who threatened Doug's position. But we dodged a bullet with that one, as the rider out front suffered a flat bringing him back into the pack, and we were able to call our guys off the front.
However, on the last lap, another dangerous move went away, threatening both the leader's jersey of Aaron Fillion, as well as Doug's 3rd spot. I went to the front and closed the gap significantly. Unfortunately, this allowed a teammate of the one of the breakaway riders to join the move out front. Brandon and I joined forces with Aaron, to chase the move, but with an extra rider to power the break, and only 20km left of the race, we never managed to bring back the escapees.
After the final shakedown, Doug finished up an awesome 4th overall, while I clung to the pack after my chase efforts to hang on to a top-ten overall in 9th. It was an awesome team effort from all the guys. The small things really contributed a lot, like Andrew and Greg bringing up bottles, Duncan and Hans providing race status, and Brandon staying at the front to follow small moves so Doug didn't have to. I'd say we saw some of the best racing by the team at this one.
Thanks goes out to Ride with Rendall for hosting a great event. I think we'll see another contingent of Nine2FivePros at Mississippi Mills next year!