Friday, June 13, 2008

Nature Valley Grand Prix - as seen from my sofa

I just read the report on cyclingnews. Unbelievable. Cancel a criterium race because of a little rain? WAAAAAA. BOO-HOOOOO! Again, unbelievable. It's a real pity. Either don't let the race start or let them finish if they want. It wasn't a tornado or a hurricaine. It was rain with maybe some strong wind. So what. A few years ago, when i raced this event, they tried to stop our race as well. They finally decided that anyone who rides for a lap or so, gets the same finishing time as the winner. But at least they gave us the rules before we took off AND they let those of us who wanted to commit for the full distance of the criterium to go for it.

But what they did to the racers this year is just not right. For the guys, they stopped the race before it finished WHILE there was a break up the road. They interviewed the guy off the front - Kirk "Mr. Darcy" O'Bee of Healthnet pb Maxxis - and he said: "It's disappointing because I made a big effort to be out there and everyone had to deal with the rain." Mr. Darcy gained the first intermediate time bonus after initiating a breakaway and wanted to pursue the stage win and overall race lead.

He added, "I don't think the course was that unsafe. What made it unsafe was that there were too many motos on course that were trying to get through the field. The officials also didn't do a good job in pulling lapped riders quick enough as we were coming up on them – so the motos were trying to wave them off. Personally I had no problem with the course." Luckily he had something left to win the stage the following day.


The women's race was even more unfortunate. The organizers let them race to the finish! Only after the race did they tell the racers that their exhausting efforts were for nothing. Kristin Armstrong of Cervelo-Lifeforce lapped the whole entire field while other racers were killing themselves to make a good showing - all for nothing. Armstrong gave some good quotes to cyclingnews:

"I would understand if the officials had to neutralize the race in the beginning or before the start due to unsafe conditions," said Armstrong, who was disappointed that in the end her effort to lap the field provided no advantage in the overall classification.

"When you start the race and finish it in its entirety and then they decide the condition were unsafe, I think it needs to be counted for GC. There are a lot of teams that put a lot of effort into this race including Tibco," continued Armstrong, who fought off three chasing Tibco riders.

"I feel like we should go into tomorrow with the GC in place. Yes, a lot of girls got dropped or went down. Unfortunately that's bike racing and that same sort of bad luck could happen to me out there tomorrow."


I agree with both O'Bee and Armstrong's sentiments. So what if a bunch of racers fall on their asses. That's racing. Crashes happen on dry days too. I do hope that the organizers of Nature Valley Grand Prix learn from this experience. The folks who run this event as well as the crowds there in MN are amazing so i do look forward to many years more of this event!

14 comments:

StevenCX said...

I agree on both counts, but especially about the women's race running all the way to the end, presenting the jerseys and podiums, and then nullifying it. The men's race was more understandable (I was there) - when motos are sliding out into racers, that's not safe. However, it was the officials' call, not the organizers.

MT said...

I have also done this race a few times and it ALWAYS manages to rain on the Friday night downtown crit in Minneapolis. This St Paul crit is a new stage. Yes - there are usually more crashes than usual - mostly just guys sliding out in corners who pop right up, collect a free lap then jump back in.

It does take a special type of rider to excel in these conditions and like Dave McCook, my former teamate the won the crit the last time I did this race in the rain, Kirk O'bee is definately one of them. He surely got royally skrewed here becauce one of the officials on a moto happened to slid out in a corner and deemed the race unsafe. Total BS - racing is racing rain or shine.

As a cancellation prize Kirk did win the gallop yesterday in Cannon Falls.

PEANUT said...

My opinion is that if motorcycles don't know how to drive in the rain, then get off the course. The "hard men/women" SHOULD win. Like MT said, racing is racing.
It was very bad the year the canceled my crit but i didn't fall, nor did the rest of the gals who remained upright. haha. If someone is afraid to race in the rain, pick another sport.
And i agree that it should have been the officials' call since they should understand bike racing safety more than the organizer.

chr15 tree said...

WTF! Let me get this straight let the women race, the whole race, until the end. Then when the race is over and everyone I presume safely home deem the race to be null and void due to it being unsafe. Which bit am I mot getting??? Is it me?

PEANUT said...

correct.

MT said...

In skethcy conditions in a crit the lead moto should ride way out ahead of the bunch so he/she can stay clear of the riders. Or if they are worried about crashing, skip the moto altogether and use a car. There is absolutely no need for a moto to be mixing it up amoung the riders in rainy conditions. This is an NRC event for God's sake.

USCF race officials sometimes haven't really a clue how to officiate a race. Though, they're probably paid jack shit to do their job. So, there you go.

Rickie Rainwater said...

If you can't handle it, don't race, and if it really is unsafe, don't have a race. If you can't handle a motorcycle in the rain, you best just not ride a motorcycle. Keep the motorcycles off the course and if it is a loop course, you don't really need them. Change the bike setup and tires for the conditions. While I'm at it, keep people and animals off the course. I don't see them canceling the Tour de Italy because it rains or the Tour de France, or the paris-roubaix. What would the paris roubaix be with out the rain, mud, and suffering and the pictures of those guys with the worn muddy faces. If you finish the course, and come in first, you are the winner.

adeline said...

Hey Christine

I didn't forgot you no worries.
I will tell you tomorrow when i will pick you up.
I think it would be around midday.
Is it OK for you ?
I will come here to confirm.

Ad

PEANUT said...

Merci adeline!!!!!

bikesgonewild said...

...what ???...so fairfax's local girl rachel lloyd gets 4th (& her team-mate shelley olds placed 6th) in the crit & they wipe out the results..."why, i oughta..."...

...actually, it's hard to fathom the the whole scenario & i can't imagine anyone but a whiner agreeing w/ the situation as finalized...

adeline said...

I confirm I will be in Everberg around midday!
We will be a lot of time for our preparation, for the traditionel "I arrive-I go to the toilet", to be lost too ...

See you tomorrow.
PS : Is your phone number the same than last year ?

Adeline

adeline said...

we will have sorry

Anonymous said...

My understanding from the conversation I heard between the official and the race director was they nullified the women's St. Paul crit because the officials couldn't sort out the mess in order to appropriately score the race. It was an official's nightmare, not the weather. But they chose to blame it on the weather to "save face." On the men's side, many racers being pulled by officials ignored the requests, so when the moto slid and they halted the race to clean up the mess, they (officials) once again had no idea who was suppose to be on or off the course. Official ineptness, it seems, made this race a bust.

PEANUT said...

That makes more sense. But why not tell the truth. I'd think the truth would make them sound less inept.
Thanks for the insider info!