Iris Stagner Memorial Stage Race 2013 Race Report
by Stephen Mire
I was standing on the start line of the road race in Mineral Wells, TX smiling from ear to ear even though I was sitting tied for 11th in GC. Why you ask? Because I knew I had already accomplished more than I thought with my winter training. Even though I had gotten stuck behind a crash on the last lap in the crit and finished close to last narrowly avoiding going down, I was still grinning. I had finished 5th in the 7.8 mile very hilly time trial the afternoon before. Considering the year prior I had finished 24th, I’d say this was a slight step up the ladder. Best part was I had some left in the tank. A slight amount…. Enough to smile at the end and kick myself a little thinking I should have hit the second to last climb slightly harder to make up a few more dire seconds. Nonetheless I was excited about this accomplishment.
I was grinning because Mineral Wells has become my favorite Road Race I have attended in my years of racing…. And I’ve won it once before as a cat 3. I was confident going into the RR, and I knew I needed to play it smart as I had no team mates. The first prime was at the end of the first 26 mile lap and I opted out to save some energy. Other than the normal attacks the first lap was pretty tame but fast. About 3 miles into the second lap a military cyclist went up with a DNA rider wanting nothing other than to sit on his wheel. I had decided to go with this break and work a bit to see how it went. When I saw the DNA rider sitting I decided to draft as well. I wasn’t gonna work to pull him to the finish if he wasn’t going to work with us. The military rider attacked and the peleton was so close to us I just sat up and quickly found myself in a much better draft only 10 or so seconds off the back of the break I was just sitting on. Another group of 3 bridged up, and then another 2 went up and made it to the break. I looked up the road and realized all but one team was represented so I figured they’d let me roll being 11th overall and no team I posed no threat. I was right! The break had all decided they wanted to try at an honest effort to get away so my attack to bridge to them was planned on a slight false flat uphill that was about a mile long. I figured I had a better chance at catching a group of 7 guys if they were headed uphill and not nearly as deadly as a group to me trying to cross as they would have been on a flat or a downhill. As the road flattened out and started to descend, I still had about a 8-10 second gap to bridge! I decided it was now or never and dug deep out of the saddle to close the gap.
It was a good thing I did because as soon as I caught them, we started to really move fast. It took me about 3-4 min to bridge the gap. The break was working hard to lengthen their lead and I was trying to catch them simultaneously. I sat on for a couple rotations letting the legs come back around after a big effort, then gladly jumped into the rotation.
Then the real work began. We agreed who would get points at KOM that was coming up soon. Soon after I realized I was the second highest placed guy in the break. There was no agreement for the second prime so I decided I’d better protect my GC position. I won the prime so that was an extra 5 points. That’s when the real grins started. It was hard to mask them. This prime was at 50 miles into my 80 mile race. At this point in a race last year I probably would have won the prime just like this year… the difference this year…. It was easy! All the long hours over the last couple months and the recent tempo training was evident to me. Big power was still easy to produce 2 hours into my race… something very new to me. The steady work continued and I started noticing my pulls were getting longer and stronger and everyone else was getting that zombie look on their faces. They were making shorter pulls and skipping pulls.
Over the KOM for the third time we knew we had a 4 min lead so we took it easy. Easy dropped one guy! We were down to 7 and a 4 min lead with about 12 miles left in the race. I took a closer look around and I was the only stocky looking guy I knew as long as I could make it to the finish I could take it. I say it this way to show you that even though I was feeling amazing I was still not confident in my own abilities. I was still wondering when the old Stephen would surface and the legs would start cramping any second now right?!? No cramps and 5 miles to go I started debating how I was gonna win this race. Attack now and break it up to see who had what left or let it come down to a sprint??? I had won the sprint at the prime but was everyone really trying at that one? I had to guess yes as points were on the line for GC and not money so it was a big deal right? I decided I should let it come down to a sprint and see how the legs could handle a finish sprint at 80 miles in. I mean this was a C race after all so if I made it this far and felt this great but botched the finish all wasn’t lost. About 2K to go we started cat and mouse and the military guy jumped with about 1K to go. I bridged to him quickly sat for a sec and realized we had a good gap so I went with about 300 to go and held them off to the line! This was a whole new feeling. I was so excited from about 20 miles out all the way to the finish that I probably didn’t eat like I should have so I had some stingers in the legs but no major cramping. Eating correctly I should be able to really contend this year in some big sprints!
1st Texas cat 2 win for me so I’m on cloud 9! This bumped me up to 3rd overall for the weekend as well! Two podiums on the weekend with a big big result for myself in the TT! Couldn’t be any happier! This has also allowed me to get my upgrade!
I am now a Category 1 racer! Big thanks to Jed Darby at Perfect Endurance for all the help! Now for racing with the big boys! Lets go! – Stephen Mire