Criterium Racing - German Style
Raced a crit last night in a little town called Cloppenburg, which is I think somewhere south of Hamburg (I slept all the way there). We loaded up the Ducato at 4.30pm so that we could sit in traffic on the autobahn for an hour, but we did in fact make it with an hour to spare and arrived just as darkness was falling. Perfect.
Super short course (1.1km) and very narrow through the center of town, with a very fast and wide open slight downhill section on the back. At the end of said downhill section we had to negotiate the left hand quarter of a traffic circle followed immediately by another super tight 120 degree left / 90 degree right combo, all on a combination of interlocking brick and cobbles with really nasty metal barriers. Fun. Then back up to full speed for 200m before diving into an almost complete U-turn (still on brick), out of the floodlights, before tearing back uphill out of the center while trying to get your eyes to adjust. The back stretch was pretty dark and there was a huge pothole buried somewhere back there that I smoked hard like three times before figuring out where it was. Surprisingly there were no crashes, but I did see a few close calls.
Apparently this was the last national level crit of the year and it was pretty darn fast, even though it was only open to Div 3 pro teams and amateur teams. I think it took me like ten laps to get to the front, then after doing my bit up there for two laps I slid back through field and took another ten to recover. By the time I hit the first 20 spots again the break had gone, but I didn't know cause I was sucking at the back. At least we had a guy up there, and had I known I might have been able to help out a bit. Malte ended up 4th in the end, but I think he would have been happier with a podium. Starting a 55km crit at 8.45pm makes for a late night, so I didn't get home to bed till 12.30am or so. I think we'll take it easy today.