RACE REPORT: TEAM AETNA AT TOUR OF BATTENKILL
PHOTO: Aetna riders enter the feedzone during the Tour of the Battenkill
The Aetna cycling team headed to Cambridge, NY this weekend to do battle with one of the premier “hardman/woman” races in America, the Tour of the Battenkill.
With dirt road sections and unrelenting short, steep hills, Battenkill draws elite racers from all of the country looking to make a name for themselves and was a targeted race for the Aetna squad.
On Battenkill-eve, a rainstorm softened the dirt sections and made for slow and sluggish pedaling on raceday and despite the course being atypical of normal road races, the team decided to stay on the offensive from the start.
Aetna rider John Harris set the tone for the category 2 race by going on a solo attack right from the gun.
Several miles later a chase group of four riders caught John and helped lighten his workload. The group worked well together and built up a healthy three-minute gap over the main field.
By midrace, fans and observers debated whether John’s move might have incidentally forced the race winning selection.
But, as Battenkill is prone to do, the breakaway group’s advantage was whittled down by fatigue and the challenging course dynamics. Remarkably, John and his breakaway stayed out in front for 70 miles before the main field caught them.
Though the rest of team Aetna was stricken with bad luck, John’s race-making breakaway and canny tactical sense was a brilliant piece of riding.