Project 5 Racing

Illinois State Road Race Championship : Project 5 Repeats as IL. State Champions


First and foremost thanks to the Tour of Oak Brook sponsors and promoters for taking on and hosting this event. The Chicagoland/Illinois cycling community owes you a debt of gratitude. Also, thanks to our sponsors for backing us, we dedicate this championship to you. What follows is a race report from our captain Kevin Stephens.

Nice job to all who raced this Saturday. The course turned out to be great even with the traffic on the roads. The hills didn’t split the field but definitely put some pain in the legs. The 3’s race was epic.  It was like a battle in the thunder dome and master blaster was around every corner. The first few laps I hung out in the back to get the legs loose.  There were not a lot of fireworks early but the pace was high.  It started raining with about 10 laps to go and people were looking around wondering how the race was going to develop.  Luckily the rain didn’t last very long and the course dried up.  There was one crash of a Mack guy, but everyone else kept the rubber side down.I probably went over the race about 400 times yesterday and relived every moment in my head.  But right now Ican’t seem to remember much of the details.  I remember seeing 3 VW riders off the front after a prime with one other guy and moving up quickly to get it back, but as i moved up I saw Andy taking a big pull to bridge.  Then Tim went across and everything shut down for groupo compacto.  With about four laps to go one guy, Chris Padfield, was off the front by about 500 yards with VW and someone else about 200 behind him.  Tim was near the front and took a pull, so i moved to bring these guys back so that Tim could get on my wheel and out of the wind.  I look back after I start to tire and see that there is a pretty big gap.  I wanted to drag the field so that someone else could aid in the chase, but I figured now other teams were forced to chase and Tim could hide.  I built up some speed and could see that i was gaining ground on the guys off the front.  I had a brief vision of actually staying away, but it was brief.  The VW rider drops the other guy and i quickly come up to him hoping that I could pick him up and trade pulls.  Unfortunately the rider blows and is dropped like a stone and quickly on his way back to the pack.  I am still making up ground on the VW rider but now i am hurting and realize there is no way I can stay off the front for much longer.  I keep a steady pace for as long as I can hold it so that other teams still have to chase.  They catch me on the hills, which was good for me since their speed was reduced and I reintegrated right at the front.  With 2 laps to go Padfield is still off the front but doomed to be caught.  VW sends men to the front to bring Chris back.  I see six of their guys in the front eight riders and wonder if they are going to try set up some spectacular attack.  On the last lap I am somehow still working the front and try to keep track of Tim.  The pace was super high and guys were blasting up the hills.  I looked back and surprisingly saw the field still together.  Tim and I crossed paths a couple times on this stretch of road and I was not sure what he wanted to do, besides sprint, and he looked pretty worn.  We go into the last turn and I think I was second wheel behind Padfield who we caught earlier.  The speed was crazy fast and a small group with Tim comes past me on the finishing straight, which is probably about a mile long.  I am thinking good thoughts and get in behind them.  Then Tim fades back a bit and opens a gap behind Matt Smith and I take the space.  I am thinking it is good I am behind Smith at this point but it is bad that Tim is not.  The speed picks up even more and we are flying.  We are probably 500 meters from the line and guys are positioning for the sprint.  I figured at this point that Tim was out of it since he gave me that gap, and somehow i would have to develop and implement a winning sprint in the next 20 seconds.  Then with about 350 meters to go i see Tim with a group come up next to us and overtake the front.  I am relieved to see Tim in there but i know that he is hurting. They begin the acceleration for the sprint and I watch from behind.  I am silently rooting but not knowing what is happening up front.  Then i hear the announcer say the words “nine one seventeen”.  I know that Tim is number nine so I start to get excited but don’t assume anything yet.  I roll up to Tim and ask him how it went and he can barely get the words out “I won”.  We roll to a stop in someone’s front lawn and lay down in the grass.  Tim is about to start convulsing, but i don’t know if it is because he is so happy or he is about to puke.  I go with puke and try to see if anyone has any water.  I was completely spent from a grueling race.  I was dehydrated and hurting in every way and so was Tim.  There was no reason why he should have been near the front of the race near the end, let alone win, other than wanting it so badly.  Congrats to him for pulling it out.


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