The Champions Sportive!
The Champions Sportive is a series of races that are conducted across 9 different cities in India with the top 3 riders from each race qualifying for the season finale in one of the cities. This year, the series is being organized in Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Goa. The series finale is going to be in Goa on 6th of Jan 2019!
The Silicon Valley Sportive:
The Bengaluru race of the series is the silicon valley sportive and it happened on 25th Nov 2018(Yesterday). There was a 50km ride and 70km race. With about 70 participants, the race was flagged off at the LG Park Hotel in Hoskote. The first couple of km was a neutral start until we got out of the heart of Hoskote.
The main contenders for the race were the last year’s winner of the race, Phanibhushan(Phani) of LBB Racing, runner up Kiran Raju of BMR, young rider from Team Crankmeister, Aditya KV, Craig Raynes and myself from Spectrum Racing. In women’s category, BVCoaching athlete and Team Crankmeister rider, Lena Robra is the favorite. LBB came in with 3 riders, Ankush Sharma, Imaad Ahmed and Ben Joseph in support of Phani. It is great to see cycling teams looking at cycle racing as a team sport that it is and coming into races with strategies.
Craig offered to be domestique for me in the race returning the favor for my work in last week’s Nandi race. Our main goal was to tire out the main contenders as much as possible by setting a strong pace and attacking all the inclines hard and ultimately breaking away together. But, I was coming into the race with a bit of tummy trouble from the day before that would have earned me a permanent resident status if the loo were a country. So, I had my doubts about carrying out the plan and being able to stick to his wheel. I figured I will give it a shot as long as I didn’t need to stop midway during the race to find relief.
Once the flag dropped and the lead vehicle got out of the way, a steady pace was being set at the front by the newest team in town, LBB Elite Racing! The peloton was big and there were a lot of new faces that seemed like having their first ride in a big group. With my oversensitive “potential crash” detectors going off, I decided to get to the front along with my Spectrum Racing teammate Craig Raynes with the intention of breaking the group up a bit.
Down The Valley of Pain!
Criag immediately got to the front with me on his wheel. He kept hitting all the inclines very hard and that resulted in the group breaking up in no time. The peloton quickly became about 15 members from nearly 40. It didn’t stop there. The mayhem continued with him attacking every incline. I hung on for dear life. Each such attack resulted in further thinning of the front group. In about 20-25 mins we became a group of 7 riders. Two LBB riders, Ben and Phani, Crankmeister’s Aditya, BMR’s Kiran, Akash Blesson from Kerala, Craig and myself were left.
Each of us were being pushed deep down the valley of pain by Craig. I knew that it will be difficult for me to last the distance. I went to him and told him to go ahead breakaway solo if I were to crack before others. To aid that, I would stay on his wheel and let the gap develop when he accelerated so that others had to work more if they were to bridge the gap.
Immediately after the U-turn, after Ben took a turn at the front, Craig attacked and got a gap. I held back a bit and shouted for him to go. He hesitated a bit and put the gas on the pedals. Akash, Phani, Aditya and Kiran were on the chase and I got on their wheel while Ben got distanced. Craig slowed down for a bit when he saw other got back on his wheel and went again. That broke me while the other 4 continued to pursue him.
I saw that they slowed down a bit and began to chase back. I got to within 20 meters before another acceleration took the group further away. I decided to sit up and ride on my own. After a bit of recovery, I joined Ben who made his way back to me. I didn’t have much energy left so I contributed with very small turns while he did majority of the work. We began to see the youngster Aditya who seemed to be dropped from the group and bridged up to him with 20k to go. From then on 3 of us began to work together with those two doing the lion’s share as I sit on and took occasional turns.
Ahead, the continuous attacks from Craig meant the remaining 3, Akash, Phani and Kiran also broke and he escaped solo with 30 km to go from the finish. He took a comfortable win 3 mins ahead of others. The other three rode together to the finish. Phani and Kiran battled out for the sprint and Kiran managed to edge out Phani at the line. Phani was closer to the left of the road and the finish line photographer who was in the way couldn’t get out of the way in time. As a result, Phani rode right into him and crashed. Thankfully, he and the photographer got off lightly with minor injuries but the camera wasn’t so lucky. It broke into pieces.
Link to the finish line video here: https://www.facebook.com/LifeBehindBarsCycles/videos/354142245348705/
The race finished with a bang. Quite literally. It was a fun race with good organization and support from the Champions Sportive team. The top 3 in all the categories will go to Goa to race in the finale of 2018 Champions Sportive series.