Jim Johnson Wins the Cat 3 Tour de Toona 2011
Jim is an ABRT Masters rider, but raced in the Cat 3 field at the Tour de Toona. Here is Jim's race report:
Day 1 road race:
Today’s race was 69 miles with three major climbs. Total climbing was between 4500 and 5500 feet. The race started as most Cat 3 races, a bit jerky. Two riders attacked immediately and got about a minute on the rest of the pack. The field was neutralized for a short time to allow the Cat 2’s (who made a wrong turn at some point) to get back on the main course. Once racing resumed, there was the typical surging and sitting up until the 1st feed zone at which the field was neutralized, again, to allow the pro’s to pass through. The first climb was a 1700 ft ascent up to Blue Knob resort. The field essentially blew apart on this ascent leaving five or six riders in the chase group to compete for 3rd in the first of three KOM sprints. I came across the line 4th. At the top of Blue Knob our chase group was pared down to three; Jon D’Alba (from Schuylkill Navy), Paul Low (Team Travelers) and myself. Paul attacked and pulled away after Blue Knob so Jon and I chased to get him back in the group to better our chances of bridge up to the two breakaway riders. We finally caught him and one rider of the breakaway group on the 2nd climb. By 5K from the 2nd KOM sprint at Bear Wallow Rd (maybe a 1000ft climb), Paul and the other rider were off the back leaving me and Jon to fight for 2nd and 3rd. I crossed the line of the 2nd KOM point in 2nd. Jon slowed at the next feed zone for water so, with the breakaway rider (Dan Netzer) in sight, I put my head down and worked to reel him in. With about 3K to go for the last KOM sprint (Sugarland Rd, about a 1300ft ascent), I caught him, and we worked together to put some time on the rest of the field. I crossed the line 1st this time and kept pulling. After a minute or so, I looked back to find I had dropped Dan and was on my own. Putting it in TT mode, I pushed the last 9 -10 miles to the finish and crossed the line 1:13 ahead of the second place man, putting ABRT is in Yellow.
Day 2 Criterium:
The crit this day was 20 laps around a one mile circuit through downtown Altoona. The course climbed about 40 feet from the start line through turns 1 and 2 and crested about one half the way through the back section. It then descended through a sweeping left and right turn, sharp rights at turns 5 and 6, a sharp left at turn 7, and another sharp right at turn 8. The course then proceeded to climb again to the finish. The plan was to keep the 2nd through 5th place finishers from the road race in sight and cover any break they might get into. Since the GC was points based, the overall lead was going to be from the top 5 and we needed to be very mindful of where each of these racers placed and I needed to keep my nose out of the wind and out of trouble. The race started out pretty fast and proceeded as most cat 3 crits seem to go. I worked to keep myself near the front and cover any moves I thought were a threat. Matt Albanese kept a close eye on my back; if he saw one of our marked riders make a move, he covered it. If it looked like we needed to string the pack out some and drop some riders, Matt went to the front and drilled it managing to drop the number four contender. Going into the last lap, we were in pretty good shape. I had a pretty good feel for where all the principles were and Matt was right behind me. Brian Sjoberg (Bike Doctor) was 5th after the road race and was the only threat in front of me. If he won and I got no points this race, he would win the GC. So I was trying to keep as close to him as I could. At the final turn before the sprint to the finish, a kid sprinted past me for the inside corner, posted a crank arm and started a death wobble cutting across the field. In trying to avoid him, I tried to take the corner a little wider. Unfortunately others with the same idea misjudged their ability to make the turn and three went down right in front of me. I grabbed my brakes and ended up on my head. By the time I got myself sorted out and put the chain back on, it was way too late to salvage any more than a finish. Luckily Brian Sjoberg finished 2nd. Since the other GC contenders were also collected in this and other crashes, I kept the yellow jersey. Thanks again to Matt for his help during the race and afterwards helping get myself collected enough to finish this race.