North American Qualifier for UCI World Road Masters

This past weekend, I won my age group in the North American Qualifier for the UCI World Masters held in Winston-Salem, NC over 74 miles and 3700 vertical (see picture of me and the 3rd place finisher with my UCI qualifier winner half rainbow jersey).  There were about 120 riders from the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Belarus, Brazil, and Belgium (you can qualify at any race they sponsor around the world).  The UCI World Masters is now open to all amateur age groups from 19 on and we had a mass start.  The course was rolling but no real climbs for those of us vertically inclined.  The pace was fast from the beginning and there was a tight pack of about 30-35 most of the way.   There were a number of flats (one pot hole ate at least 2-3 riders), mechanical problems and crashes along the way.   Scottie Weiss, a recent pro in the 40+ who won overall last year by 6 mins won again this year but not by so much.    I finished 28 seconds behind him this year with a pack of about 25 or so with an average pace of just under 25 mph.  
 
There was one guy in my age group who was in the front pack with me and who I was having trouble dropping. Turns out he was from New Mexico and knew I had won the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago for our age group and he was following me most of the way.    Every time I gapped him on the longish rollers he would come  back with his 808s like gum on my shoe because he was a TT guy with large calves and quads in addition to the 808 wheels (which he brought knowing he would have to make up time on the downhill).
 
So when we got within the last four miles I moved up to the front of our pack (except for Scottie Weiss who had broken by then with two other guys and was maybe 20 seconds ahead of the pack) knowing that there was a turn 50 yards from the finish and a tight pack.  I almost made a break from the group but didn’t think I could pull it off with some wind at issue.  With about 500 yards to go all hell broke loose and a bunch of the younger guys passed me.  As we hit the final turn I moved towards the outside knowing that if I went to the inside I could get cut off or worse. One guy ahead and to the left of me scraped the curb on the median (it was not even a wide road we turned onto for the finish) and apparently a couple of guys behind went into the bushes on the median.  I had not seen my competition but made the turn cleanly and was hammering to home knowing he was lurking.  Sure enough, with about 20-30 yards to go I saw those 808s of his out of the corner of my eye and pressed to the max with everything I had and as I crossed the line I heard him say “you got me.”  About 5 inches from what I could tell (.1 seconds officially).  Goes to show how positioning sometimes can be more important than power for us with more lithe frames and lack of sprint speed.    The guy in third in my group was 4 minutes back.
 
One interesting side story is that when they posted the original results I showed first in my age group but there was a blank on the line for name of the guy ahead a few places in 19th with the number showing as (?5). Didn’t think much about it because I knew no other old guys were up there.    When they announced the awards, they announced a guy from Shreveport Louisiana who I had not heard of as being the winner of my age group. His number was showing as 125 so I think the results people looked at the list and guessed he must have been the guy in 19th.  My jaw dropped as did the other guys that assumed they were on the podium.  We objected and since the guy from Louisiana was not there and since there was uncertainty re the number, they awarded the medal and the UCI qualifier winner’s jersey to me.  The next day or so though the results posted on the UCI website showed the other guy from Louisiana winning.  I looked up the guy on the USA Cycling website and realized he couldn’t have been the one given his cycling results.  I googled him and located his business website and emailed him, explaining what had happened and asking him to clarify his placing.  He responded that he had registered and had hotel reservations but decided not to go at the last minute. So he wasn’t even in the race!  I could hardly believe it.  I have contacted the guy who runs the UCI Masters program with the correct info, but it goes to show you how sometimes the systems in place for results are not always flawless and you have to do your own research.

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