Sep 4, 2013

Green Mountain Stage Race

The Green Mountain Stage Race is a cycling race in Vermont, USA. An awesome 4 day race where the race isn't over 'till it's over.  The courses are fun, tough enough, and the time bonus structure is exciting.
Green Mountain Stage Race Criterium. Photo: C. Johnson
NOW and Novartis didn't have this race on their calendar, but I went alone.  I ended up having a BLAST.  This year, I was able to fit the 4 day event in my schedule as perfect preparation for upcoming European racing.  I couldn't believe how smoothly the GMSR was run, the exceptionally positive aura and atmosphere, the security of the courses, and the quality of the race circuits.
Stage 1 podium with my NUHEAT bottle and Rumble for recovery.  Photo: Gary Kessler
The first day I finished 2nd (by 7s) in the 5 mile time-trial, that started with a long steep uphill.  No TT bikes were allowed so I left my Specialized S-Works SHIV at home and went with my S-Works Amira.

In the Stage 2 road race, I planned to ride conservatively.  After sitting out the first intermediate sprint I thought "that's enough, I'm going for it", decided to go for all, and scooped up the remaining sprint and QOM (Queen of the Mountains) points.  I went for gold too, sprinting to a stage victory and taking the yellow leader's jersey while I was at it. I was feeling good.
Lex Albrecht, Specialized S-Works Amria, and Rolf tubular climbing wheels
I heard the next day's course finished with a brutal climb.  I took 2.5 hours to pre-drive the course in my boat-of-a-car.  (I wish I had a NOW and Novartis Ford C-MAX hybrid in Vermont with me...way smoother!).  I knew what was to come.  I did my own wrenching and put on a big (28 tooth) cassette. I wished I had a SRAM compact crankset to go along with it though.

Day 3 my job was only to protect the jersey.  My plans were otherwise though.  It wasn't "smart racing" attacking the field over and over from the gun, and I knew it.  But it hurt, and it's going to pay off.  I went for the QOM points and got them.  Towards the end of the 67mi stage with tired legs, I tried to hang on to Amy Bevilacqua's wheel as we dieseled up App-Gap, a 4km climb that ends with pitches with 20% gradient pitches.  With 2km to go..she stared slipping away.  I lost just over a minute in those final km as Amy pounded up the hill.  Seeing how strong she was made me feel good about only being 7s behind her in the TT at least.  I lost the yellow jersey for good to Amy that day (she deserved it, a LOT), but managed to secure the Queen of the Mountain jersey by scoring all of the points, except the ones at the finish that Amy earned fair and square.
 That Zenberry QOM jersey was mine to keep for the rest of the race!  Photo: Gary Kessler.

Stage 4 was a just-technical-enough criterium in Downtown Burlington, VT with my favorite thing : an uphill finish.  I wanted the Green sprinter's jersey to go with my Polka Dot climber's jersey.  So I went for all the sprints, and the win.  I got enough points to keep the jersey, and the victory was mine.  The screaming fans made it even sweeter, especially the crew from Trois-Rivières Québec (where I went to university and started racing!) who surprised me!
Burlington Criterium.  Photo: C. Johnson
THE FINAL SPRINT: (video J. Mathieu)

 Thanks to the awesome crowd for putting so much cash into the crowd-prime cup.  Hearing that bell for that prime made me sprint like there was no tomorrow.

At the 2013 GMSR, I became the Queen of the Mountains, Best Sprinter, had two victories, and two 2nd place podiums.  A race to remember.  And to return to. Thanks to Gary and Peter, the race organizers and all of the other staff and volunteers.  What an event.   If you weren't there this year, you should be next year.
Photo finish - Stage 4

Photo: C. Johnson


  1. You're the best. I love photo #1 and the last photo. You look so happy taking the wins. I am very happy for you.

    Regarding day #3 ... not racing smart, and attacking them again and again. I love that. You are riding bikes, not managing a 401K. You gotta have fun and not sit on someone's wheel like some risk averse professional golfer sitting on a 4 stroke yield laying the ball up short instead of hitting for the hole.

    The few times I have seen you race (Mayor's Cup, live) ...and a couple times streaming on the internet ... you are either on the front working for teammates, or attacking the field. I like the way you roll.

    Best of luck in European racing. Don't change a thing ... and keep having fun!

  2. No TT bikes in a TT .......... Why?

    1. Why? it is a hill climb TT

    2. The original idea was so that people traveling only had to bring one bike. It evens the playing field for riders in all categories.