March 24, 2019 launched our new challenging gravel and road 22 mile circuit starting in Holland, Texas. Gravel sections were fast and smooth. We had approximately 40 recon starters with a mix of road and gravel bikes. With 51% gravel and 49% road and a solid southern wind, this wasn’t your typical Sunday in the South. The speeds were high as expected topping out at 35mph at times and averaging just over 20mph.
An early breakaway was initiated by Dennis Lastochkin (Night Owls Racing) going south on sector #3 with his teammate Jake Boone (Night Owls Racing) making the bridge. Alex Rodriguez (ATC Racing) also made the bridge with his teammate & race promoter Joel Rierson (ATC Racing) in tow. Gregg Ueckert (CCR Roofing) was connected with Dan Piercy (Velo Roussillon Racing). By the end of sector 3, this 6 man breakaway was well established. It consisted of 2 gravel bikes (Dennis & Dan) and 4 road bikes (Jake, Joel, Alex and Gregg).
This group rotated away and out of sight. Joel was put into difficulty early on after a couple hard efforts by the Night Owls duo, but his teammate helped in picking him up. Gregg suffered a front punture on his tubeless road tire and attempted to fix it at the end of first lap. The fix didn’t hold and Gregg was out. Down to 5 in the breakaway. The group continued intact until Alex suffered a puncture in the S turns on sector 3 on the 2nd lap.
Down to 4, the next move came with Dennis attacking on sector 4 and his teammate Jake followed in pursuit. Then with a fast southern tail wind and a tight left bend, Dan almost overshot the corner and had to brake hard to regain control. Joel reconnected here with Dan. The two Night Owls hammered into the wind at the end of sector 4. Rolling back onto sector 5, the gap was about 1 minute. And finally Dan suffered a rear puncture on his back tire. Joel was stuck solo and gave a chase unknowingly that this was going to be a solo 50km effort.
As the race promoter, on limited sleep from the night before, Joel knew that if he could survive that he would be on the podium. Drink enough Nuun, enjoy his Clif Blocs, turn over the pedals and focus on not hitting any big rocks. First place was a bouquet of tulips, 2nd place a tower of Stroopwafels and 3rd place was Gouda cheese. As the promoter, these were the items that he asked him mom to purchase at Costco and Trader Joe’s. What was on his mind? Joel responded: “I was risking it going on tubes, but I wanted the full speed advantage of deep dish carbon wheels and a road bike. So we chatted at Mellow Johnny’s and agreed that 2nd best to tubeless would be to go with latex tubes and Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires with a double Vectran belt. I was still nervous so I floated on the gravel sections and picked the best lines that I could. There were 21 sectors of gravel over 68 miles, so I was only totally relaxed 49% of the time while on the road.”
Jake and Dennis kept their 1-2 status, Joel held in no man’s land to secure some cheese for 3rd place. Dan rolled in next. And even after a bloody crash on the first lap of sector 3, Stefan Hardie (ATC Racing) finished in 5th place.
HOLLAND TX CLASSIC RECON DAY RESULTS – 110km
|1||Jake Boone (NIGHT OWLS RACING) road||3:20:19|
|2||Dennis Lastochkin (NIGHT OWLS RACING) gravel||3:20:20|
|3||Joel Rierson (ATC RACING) road||3:26:32|
|4||Dan Piercy (VELO ROUSSION RACING) gravel|
|5||Stefan Hardie (ATC RACING) road|
Check out the Velo Fest 360 Facebook page and April 6th Holland Classic event info for comments on bike setup, tires and more.