Singapore OCBC Pro Criterium
Last week, the team competed in the OCBC Cycle Singapore Professional Criterium on the famous F1 race track. The race was slightly different than we were used to with only four riders per team and a course that was both longer and more technical than a typical US crit. With a truly world-class start list, we knew that we would have to be ready for a very fast and aggressive race. Our roster was my twin brother Kevin, Isaac Howe, Gavi Epstein and myself. Without spoiling the race, highlights of the race can be found above.
This was my first real trip out of the US, so I was super excited and nervous at the same time. After a 30 hour travel day we got settled into the host hotel and had a few days to acclimate to the twelve hour time difference and extreme heat and humidity. Over the next few days we were fortunate enough to be interviewed on live TV with Chanel NewsAsia, which was aired live in over 30 different countries (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tAI61ciSvQ). In addition, we had the opportunity to visit the Singapore Zoo with Phil Liggett to feed their special White Rhinos; our second interview took place at the feeding on Super Sports 360 (http://youtu.be/1CaVhLeeKyo). Phil Liggett is known as the voice of cycling and is one of the best known cycling commentators in the world, announcing races from the Tour of California to the Tour de France. While I was not surprised to learn that Kevin and I are the first identical twins to ever compete in the race, the extra attention it received was most certainly a welcome surprise.
Race day finally arrived and we were ready to go. Well, at least most of us were. Gavi unfortunately caught a bit of a stomach bug two days before the race and was not yet fully recovered. The race started under the lights at 8:30pm. During staging I was already soaked from head to toe with sweat due to the heat and humidity. Getting a call up to the line by Phil Liggett and Robbie McEwen was an amazing experience and something that I will never forget. Robbie was commentating the race alongside Phil and is one of the best known sprinters in the world. He has won the green jersey at the Tour de France on three occasion, has numerous stage wins to his name and a long list of additional accomplishments.
As we had expected, the race started super-fast and aggressive. For the first 20 minutes, every time I looked at my computer we were never going slower the 32mph and single file. I knew that we were going to have to race smart and conservative. There were constant attacks and reshuffling in the first 30 minutes. Then, a large group of about 10 riders got a 20 second gap on the field; Kevin had made this group. The group was soon absorbed by the chasing field, but not before Kevin attacked and got away solo. He was out front for a half lap before two more riders joined him. This small group stayed away for the next 45 minutes or so with Kevin showing his strength amongst his break companions. In the peloton, Isaac and I tried our best to control the race and make sure the break stayed away as long as possible. With about 15 minutes left in the race, the break was brought back (Rapha Condor JLT did the lion’s share of work) and the field had dwindled in size. The last 5 laps were really hectic with no team really taking control of the race. On the last lap Drapac, an Aussie Pro Continental team, took the lead at the front with the rest of us close behind in tow. We came around the final corner still pretty much single file and the bunch sprint was more like a drag race to the finish line for most of us. I finished 10th, Isaac 16th and Kevin 22nd. Kevin also finished 6th in the sprint competition.
This was truly an amazing experience and opportunity. While we would have certainly liked to finish on the podium, I think we proved to ourselves that we are more than capable at racing at this level and now we know what needs to be done to succeed here next year. Look for us this weekend at the first NCC race of the season, the Sunny King Criterium in Aniston, AL.