2010 Coupe des Ameriques Stage Race

2010 Coupe des Ameriques - by Steve Lehman - At the sign-in for this 27th edition of the Coupe des Ameriques Stage Race in Sutton, Quebec it was apparent that this was going to be a special year. The number of entrants was greater than any previous year by an astounding 100 riders. The 350 competitors were divided into six masters categories, men’s 30-39, 40-49,50-59, 60+ and women’s 30-39 and 40+. The prologue and road race courses were changed, so any apprehension about the old courses was replaced by apprehension for the new venues. Only two things are constant at this race. The level of competition is always high and the circuits will be challenging for all competitors. And our hosts, the citizens of the beautiful ski town of Sutton, will welcome us with all the warmth, fantastic cuisine and wonderful accommodations this area of Quebec has to offer.

Day One - July 2, 2010 Stage One -The Prologue

This year’s prologue offered a new run-in to Sutton approaching from the north on Route 139. I liked this change as the road was very smooth and it provided more opportunity for early attacks. The hills during the first 10 kilometers also offered an opportunity to activate the climbing muscles before the difficult 7.5 kilometer climb and 350 meter elevation gain to the very top of the access road to Mont Sutton. As we turned onto Maple Street and started the climb I went to the front and set a tempo fast enough to prevent any early attacks. This worked until we hit the 5K to go mark and got into the first serious gradient. At this point my arch nemesis and Canadian Road Race Champion, Roger Lessard, attacked and to my surprise was joined by two US riders, Doug Dale and David Linden, in this early move. I stayed at my own pace and as we crested this pitch I had passed Dale and Linden and was again on the wheel of Lessard. We were afforded a short respite on this false flat, but as we hit the next steep section Lessard applied the pressure, dropping me again. This time, however, Linden was gone and only Dale joined him. Lessard’s jumps took their toll on Dale and just before we rolled into a short descent about two kilometers from the finish I blew by Dale in hot pursuit of Lessard, now 200 meters up the road. With one and a half kilometers left to ride we entered the series of steep switchbacks that mark the final assault to the finish at the summit atop Mont Sutton. I was not losing too much ground to Lessard, but the plucky Mr. Dale continued to apply the pressure from behind. With 1K to go and on the steepest gradient I finally started to drop Dale, but Lessard was extending his lead. I dug deep and was only about 150 meters back as he crossed the finish line. I was very pleased to have kept him within sight and just 22 seconds off his wheel. I finished with a comfortable margin over Dale. Also pleasing was the fact that this is the Coupe des Amerique (Americas Cup) and we had five USA riders in the top eight places, albeit not the winning position, but we’ll see about improving that tomorrow.

Results - Stage One, Prologue

Distance: 20 km Average speed of winner: 29.6 km/h

Position Name Team/Country Time Gap

1 LESSARD, ROGER (CAN) 0:40:28

2 LEHMAN, STEVEN TRI-STATE VELO (USA) 0:40:50 0:22

3 DALE, DOUG (USA) 0:41:10 0:42

4 LINDEN, DAVID (USA) 0:42:21 1:53

5 THEMIG, JAMES MYSTIC.VELO (USA) 0:43:23 2:55

6 DESROCHES, CLAUDEL (CAN) 0:43:44 3:16

7 RICHARD, VINCENT (CAN) 0:44:08 3:40

8 PATTERSON, MICHAEL OLD LYME BIKE CAMP (USA) 0:44:09 3:41

9 LION, JEAN-PASCAL (CAN) 0:44:14 3:46

10 BOULANGER, GAETAN MAZURCOACHING.COM (CAN) 0:44:46 4:18

11 MORRIS, PETER T. (CAN) 0:45:28 5:00

12 PARKINSON, JOHN (CAN) 0:45:31 5:03

13 BESSIN, GILBERT (CAN) 0:46:27 5:59

14 CARBONNEAU, YVES (CAN) 0:46:50 6:22

15 LECLERC, JEAN-C. (CAN) 0:50:05 9:37

16 ERNEST, DAN (CAN) 0:50:33 10:05

17 LEMIEUX, GÉRALD (CAN) 0:50:57 10:29

?

Day Two - July 3, 2010

Stage Two - The Time Trial
I woke up (by alarm clock)at 5:30am for my 8:25 time trial start. Since the start line was just a couple of kilometers away and downhill I decided to do my warm up at the hotel. At 8:00 I arrived at the start and did final preparations for this "Test of Truth". The start order for the time trial is the reverse order of how we finished last evening, so I would start second to last, just ahead of Roger Lessard. He just happens to be the Canadian Time Trial Champion among his other distinctions. This provided a little extra pressure on both of us. I’d be running scared and he’d have a rabbit to chase.

I arrived at the starting cue with a few minutes to spare and settled into my pre-race focus and control. The holder in the start house was a welcome face and trustworthy. He has been doing this chore for several years and has a firm and reliable grasp on his task. I only had to concentrate on the staccato of the countdown. To the sound of "Allez, Allez!" I unleashed a perfect pursuit start and was on my way. I have been working on my time trial and everything seemed to be providing me with a good run. I caught and passed Doug Dale within three kilometers . I roared past him, as he was definitely aerodynamically challenged with only drop bars, sans clip-ons. As I passed Dale I had Dave Linden in my sights and overtook him as we crested the hill near Brome. Shortly before I crossed the finish line I passed Claudel Desrochers, my two minute man, evidence of a very good run. As it turned out I would have the fastest time and a personal best at 29.2 mph average speed for this point-to-point, 8.2 mile test. This also placed me 51 seconds ahead of the closest rider, James Themig of the USA, but more importantly, I finished 56 seconds up on Lessard moving me into the General Classification lead by 34 seconds.

Results - Stage Two, Time Trial

Distance: 13.2 km Average speed of Stage winner: 47.1 km/h

Position Name Team/Country Time Gap

1 LEHMAN, STEVEN TRI-STATE VELO (USA) 0:16:48

2 THEMIG, JAMES MYSTIC.VELO (USA) 0:17:39 0:51

3 LESSARD, ROGER (CAN) 0:17:44 0:56

4 LINDEN, DAVID (USA) 0:18:05 1:17

5 PATTERSON, MICHAEL OLD LYME BIKE CAMP (USA) 0:18:38 1:50

6 DALE, DOUG (USA) 0:18:47 1:59

7 DESROCHES, CLAUDEL (CAN) 0:18:55 2:07

8 BOULANGER, GAETAN MAZURCOACHING.COM (CAN) 0:19:07 2:19

9 CARBONNEAU, YVES (CAN) 0:19:11 2:23

10 LION, JEAN-PASCAL (CAN) 0:19:18 2:30

11 MORRIS, PETER T. (CAN) 0:19:22 2:34

12 BESSIN, GILBERT (CAN) 0:19:52 3:04

13 ERNEST, DAN (CAN) 0:19:58 3:10

14 LEMIEUX, GÉRALD (CAN) 0:20:09 3:21

15 LECLERC, JEAN-C. (CAN) 0:20:15 3:27

16 RICHARD, VINCENT (CAN) 0:20:34 3:46

17 PARKINSON, JOHN (CAN) 0:20:42 3:54

Day Two - July 4, 2010

Stage Three - The Criterium
This year’s Criterium would once again be staged in Cowansville. Just before our race there was the awards ceremony for the morning’s time trial. I received my first gold medal of the weekend for my effort. Having the least amount of cumulative time to cover the distance thus far I was also awarded the distiction of GC (general classification) leader and the revered, yellow jersey. I proudly pulled it on and joined the other riders of my category who were waiting patiently on the start line.

The circuit for the crit was basically rectangular with a very tricky "appendage" thrown in just before the finish straight. This tricky 150 meter stretch featured a left turn, which immediately went into a right turn, which immediately went into a sweeping 180 degree left turn, which immediately went into a very fast, sweeping right-hander and the run in to the finish line just 150 meters away. Position in that last series of turns would be critical for a good result. Everyone would want to be second or third wheel entering the sprint to the finish.

Although there were a couple of crashes during our race I managed to stay out of harm's way. I rode second or third wheel throughout the race and allowed no rider to get up the road. During the race there were several attacks, most notably by David Linden. He seemed to have a good jump and would be a rider to watch in the final moments of the race. As we entered the series of turns before the finish, sure enough, here came Linden around me and the rider upon who‘s wheel I sat for the past two laps. I immediately jumped on Linden’s wheel as we went headlong through the turns at breakneck speed taking the widest, and fastest of lines possible. As we exited the final right hander with the field strung out behind, we flew down the center of the finish straight. I left a small gap open behind Linden to take the perfect run on him. I waited until we had less than 100 meters to go and jumped hard to his right with the finish line fast approaching. As I made this move Linden glanced over his shoulder, saw me coming and dove to the right curb forcing me to lock my brakes. Luckily, I was able to slow enough not to hit the curb and there were no riders directly on my wheel to collide with me. Unfortunately, although I had the speed and best line to win his move relegated me to third across the line. I was livid and immediately protested to Linden and the officials. The officials saw his move the same way I did and relegated him to last place in the sprint, but the win was still not mine. The hook thwarted my perfectly timed sprint and allowed Lessard to come around and get the award of the win, good for him, bad for me. This gave him the maximum bonus seconds. I not only didn’t win, but I lost two valuable seconds to Lessard, putting my advantage over him at a mere 32 seconds when it could have been 36. I know from past experience in a race against a rider of the quality of Lessard, every second counts. Would 32 seconds be enough time to assure a win and keep me in the yellow jersey after tomorrow’s road race? Tomorrow is the final stage, a 96 kilometer road race, which will finish atop the Mount Sutton ski mountain. At 6'1" and 180 lbs. I can't say I'm looking forward to it. My adversary, Roger Lessard, is probably 50 lbs lighter than me. My fingers are still crossed.

Results - Stage 3, Criterium

Distance: 24 km Number of DNF: 1 Average speed: 34.8 km/h

Position Name Team/Country Time Gap Bonus us 1 LESSARD, ROGER (CAN) 0:41:22 10

2 LEHMAN, STEVEN TRI-STATE VELO (USA) 0:41:22 0:00 08

3 DALE, DOUG (USA) 0:41:22 0:00 06

4 THEMIG, JAMES MYSTIC.VELO (USA) 0:41:22 0:00

5 RICHARD, VINCENT (CAN) 0:41:22 0:00

6 LION, JEAN-PASCAL (CAN) 0:41:22 0:00

7 PARKINSON, JOHN (CAN) 0:41:22 0:00

8 DESROCHES, CLAUDEL (CAN) 0:41:22 0:00

9 LINDEN, DAVID (USA) 0:41:22 0:00

10 CARBONNEAU, YVES (CAN) 0:41:29 0:07

11 LEMIEUX, GÉRALD (CAN) 0:41:29 0:07

12 ERNEST, DAN (CAN) 0:42:34 1:12

13 PATTERSON, MICHAEL OLD LYME BIKE CAMP (USA) 0:42:34 1:12

14 BOULANGER, GAETAN MAZURCOACHING.COM (CAN) 0:43:44 2:22

15 MORRIS, PETER T. (CAN) 0:43:44 2:22

16 LECLERC, JEAN-C. (CAN) 0:45:04 3:42

BESSIN, GILBERT (CAN) DNF

?

Day Three - July 4, 2010

Stage Four - The Road Race

This is the 19th time I have done the Coupe des Ameriques, but the race never gets old. They keep it interesting by offering challenging venues and this year’s road race circuit is just such an interesting challenge. Our 96 kilometer course will cover some hilly territory between the Mont Sutton and Owl’s Head ski mountains. There is even a fairly close up view of the Jay Peak ski mountain across the US/Canadian border in Vermont. None of the course gave me much concern, however, except for the final ascent of Mont Sutton. That climb has provided the death knell for many of my previous attempts to win this race. Today, if I can keep the group together I will hit it with a 32 second cushion. If both Lessard and I are having a good day we will be able to keep the strongest of the rest of our group at bay. He will also be hard pressed to take more than 20 seconds back from me on the final 5 kilometer climb. A good bet would be on me, today.

At the start line Lessard told me he felt bad about the finish of yesterday’s criterium and that I should have won it. None the less, this is bicycle racing. There are any number of "incidents" that can occur at any time that could lay waste to the best effort and strategy. Thirty-five kilometers into today's race everything seemed to be going well. I was riding comfortably, and attentively, somewhere between the second and fifth riders. I was keeping an eye on Lessard and we both seemed to be biding our time until the ultimate climb to Mont Sutton. At about this point I thought I felt my rear brake rubbing the wheel. Although I had done a thorough pre-race inspection of my bike it felt as if my rear brake was rubbing when I got out of the saddle. It wasn’t anything severe, but I was starting to obsess over it. I decided to open the rear brake just a bit to assure extra clearance. As I looked back, attempting to make the adjustment, I rode into the back wheel of the rider in front of me. My front wheel immediately washed out and I hit the pavement pretty hard, as we were probably traveling at 40km/hr at the time. Luckily the riders behind me were more attentive than I and no one else crashed. I leapt to my feet, did a quick assessment of my injuries, saw they seemed to be only abrasions and picked up my bike. I heard hollering from the peleton and saw they had slowed to see if I could proceed. There is certainly honor among this field, as they would not take advantage of my mishap. Unfortunately, I did not notice that my chain had come off the rear derailleur and when I started to pedal I bent my derailleur into the rear wheel. This rendered my bike unusable and took away any chance of my rejoining the fray. A moment's inattention, the touch of the wheel in front of me and my race is over. Although I have been racing at a relatively high level for many years I was guilty of a "rookie mistake".

Although my race was over, I was about to experience the last 60 kilometers of the race in the car with ski patrol volunteers, Natalie and Michel, who were providing first aid for our race. They gave me expert first aid and TLC, then loaded me in the car and we followed my race, watching it unfold. On an intermediate hill (I don’t mean to downplay the severity of it) Lessard led a group of about 10 riders off the front. Actually, they became the main field. The remaining six riders fragmented, came together, fragmented, suffered and endured through the ensuing 40 kilometers to the finish. It hurt just to watch them (from the seated comfort of the car). Natalie, Michel and, to a lesser degree, I stopped several times and massaged horribly cramped legs, offered water, replacement bars and encouragement. At no point, however, did I offer my seat. My hat is off to the boys who suffered at the back. You may not have been the first to cross the line, but your struggle did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Roger Lessard (Canada) rode onto the win with US riders Doug Dale and David Linden finishing second and third, respectively. Other US riders rounding out the top eight finishers were "Newcomer" Michael Patterson at fifth and James Themig, eighth.

Results - Stage Four, Road Race

Distance: 96 km Average speed of winner: 33 km/h

Position Name Team/Country Time Gap

1 LESSARD, ROGER (CAN) 2:52:48

2 DALE, DOUG (USA) 2:53:05 0:17

3 LINDEN, DAVID (USA) 2:54:26 1:38

4 RICHARD, VINCENT (CAN) 3:01:22 8:34

5 PATTERSON, MICHAEL OLD LYME BIKE CAMP (USA) 3:01:30 8:42

6 LION, JEAN-PASCAL (CAN) 3:01:45 8:57

7 DESROCHES, CLAUDEL (CAN) 3:02:07 9:19

8 THEMIG, JAMES MYSTIC.VELO (USA) 3:02:08 9:20

9 PARKINSON, JOHN (CAN) 3:02:08 9:20

10 BOULANGER, GAETAN MAZURCOACHING.COM (CAN) 3:02:26 9:38

11 CARBONNEAU, YVES (CAN) 3:05:14 12:26

12 MORRIS, PETER T. (CAN) 3:16:31 23:43

13 LECLERC, JEAN-C. (CAN) 3:21:53 29:05

14 ERNST, DAN (CAN) 3:24:32 31:44

LEMIEUX, GÉRALD (CAN) DNF

LEHMAN, STEVEN TRI-STATE VELO (USA) DNF

BESSIN, GILBERT (CAN) DNS

?

The US rider results for the final general classification were the best I can remember in many years. Doug Dale finished second, just two minute and six seconds behind Lessard. Linden finished third, Themig, fourth, and Patterson, seventh. Sorry, fellas, I wish I could have been more help, but it wasn’t my year.

There are certainly many things I will remember about the 2010 Coupe des Ameriques. I came here in probably the best condition of my life. I was climbing well, my time trial delivered a lifetime personal best performance and I was riding with more self-control than ever before. I came here and performed as a complete rider. Unfortunately, a bit of obsession (there was nothing wrong with my brakes) and a moment’s distraction and one of my best efforts at this great race was for naught. But. . .I had a couple of new experiences. In the 76 races I have contested in and around Sutton, it was the first time I’ve crashed. As a result I had the pleasure of spending time in the car with Natalie and Michel. I’ve never been impeded by another rider and I saw the very attentive officials of the Quebec Cycling Federation take quick, fair and decisive action. My wounds will heal, I’ll fix the bike, I have a yellow jersey, albeit a bit tattered, and I will remember the great organization and race presented by Coupe des Ameriques, Inc., the lovely and comfortable accommodations at the Condos & Hotel Le Montagnard, the fantastic restaurants, and the warm and friendly citizens of Sutton and surrounding area who allow us to come to this beautiful area of Quebec and indulge our passion.

I still say that this is the last race I will strike from my race calendar and have even attended the event on three occasions when I was too injured to compete. I look forward to the 2011 Coupe des Amerique and if you are interested in the best international racing experience for masters cyclists in North America, you’ll join me here, as well.

MASTER D General class. after 4 Stages

Position Name Team/Country Time Gap

1 LESSARD, ROGER (CAN) 4:32:12

2 DALE, DOUG (USA) 4:34:18 2:06

3 LINDEN, DAVID (USA) 4:36:14 4:02

4 THEMIG, JAMES MYSTIC.VELO (USA) 4:44:32 12:20

5 DESROCHES, CLAUDEL (CAN) 4:46:08 13:56

6 LION, JEAN-PASCAL (CAN) 4:46:39 14:27

7 PATTERSON, MICHAEL OLD LYME BIKE CAMP (USA) 4:46:51 14:39

8 RICHARD, VINCENT (CAN) 4:47:26 15:14

9 PARKINSON, JOHN (CAN) 4:49:43 17:31

10 BOULANGER, GAETAN MAZURCOACHING.COM (CAN) 4:50:03 17:51

11 CARBONNEAU, YVES (CAN) 4:52:44 20:32

12 MORRIS, PETER T. (CAN) 5:05:05 32:53

13 LECLERC, JEAN-C. (CAN) 5:17:17 45:05

14 ERNEST, DAN (CAN) 5:17:37 45:25

Steve Lehman Tours, Ltd.
648 West Spring Street
Fleetwood, PA  19522

(800)357-3018
www.stevelehmantours.com
steve@stevelehmantours.com