The 2013 edition of the Velotek GP Stage Race is in the books. The return of this race to the Kansas calendar provided riders with a rare opportunity in the area to participate in a timed stage race. Riders participated in three races over the weekend including a short prologue tt, criterium, and road race.
Saturday morning began with an uphill time trial at Wells Overlook Park in Lawrence, KS. The course was just under .8 miles in length but the short course masked just how challenging the time trial really was. Racers began at the bottom of the first climb from a standing start. They had meer meters before they began the first hill. What amounted to a large, big-ring climb was made difficult by the standing start at the bottom and a slight headwind. As soon as riders crested the starting climb they made a hard right-hand turn and were immediately confronted with an even steeper section of a couple hundred meters in length. Once they reached to top of this second section they faced two nasty switchbacks to navigate before they reached the finish at the top of the park. Riders commented that the course was extremely tough to gauge with the different pitches and sections and metering the effort properly was key to a fast time. Despite the challenging climbs most riders really enjoyed the prologue tt and thought it was a unique course.
Once the time trial was over riders migrated to Clinton Lake State Park to prepare for the stage two criterium. The course was fast and flat with a series of very fast s-curves before the finish that increased the technical difficulty of the race. Riders had mixed feelings about the new course. Cracks in the course, rough spots, and a metal barrier to separate riders from traffic on the north side had riders feeling the course was a little sketchy for most of their tastes. Positioning was important throughout the race but was especially critical going into the s-curves before the finish. There was very little room to advance positions through the final few hundred meters of the race so in many cases, rider position in the final right-hand turn before the s-curves determined the approximate finish order across the line.
Racing action was fast, especially in the 2/3 field which had 50 riders competing in the stage race. The riders took off immediately, stringing the field out and jockeying for position into the first corner. Once the riders were on the course the attacks came fast. The riders were strung out for much of the race and anyone who lost a wheel was forced to chase hard to stay with the group. Riders started to drop off the back early in the race with about half of the pack staying together for the finish. The final sprint was a bit sketchy with one rider unclipping from his pedals in the apex of one of the finishing curves. Several lapped riders who were not pulled also caused some problems by sitting up and interfering with the finishing sprint, something that should never happen in a 2/3 field with riders who are supposed to know better. Several complaints were lodged concerning the interference from the lapped riders and the officials acknowledged that in the future the riders would be pulled when lapped and disqualified for interfering in that manner. A fast group sprint at the finish mirrored the fast overall average for the 2/3 field which came in at 26.5 mph.
The road race was contested on the same course as previous editions of the Velotek GP. The course circumnavigated Perry Lake just north of Lawrence. Most categories completed two laps of the course for a total of 56 miles. Temperatures were cool with a steady south wind. The last ten miles of the course proved to be the most difficult with a steady south headwind which became a crosswind once riders reached the dam leading to the finishing climb. Racers were very happy with the road race course. A great mix of features, nice scenery, light traffic, and clear roads made for a great day of racing.
Official results have not been posted yet. Timing issues plagued both days of racing with results of each race being reposted several times over the course of the weekend. Sunday’s results were further marred by computer glitches and crashes that led many racers to leave before they were even sure of their placement in the series or the road race. The officiating crew did their best to deal with the circumstances but these issues highlight that chip timing should be seriously considered if the promoter plans on running this as a time-based stage race again in the future.
Once they are figured out, results will be posted HERE
Photo Credits: Roger Harrison