Tour de Via Italia 2018

Mark in the hurt locker

After waiting through such a long cold winter last year, and a long cold Spring, it’s hard to believe that I’m writing this post wrapping up the road season.

Sunday was our last race at Tour de Via Italia in Windsor, and in true 2018 fashion, it was really REALLY hot. After the long boring drive I was eager to hop on the bike and find out what kind of legs I had. Needless to say, in warm up I was not overwhelmed with good feelings coming from them. Ascent boys all seemed pretty ready for the day, and in the debrief it was pretty clear that everyone wanted a result. The race started out pretty tame, but as the attacks started going 20 minutes in, it was clear that the heat was affecting a lot of the field. I covered a few, and found myself needing some recovery time. A break slipped up the road and dangled, and after the field came back together another break went up the road. Both times we weren’t represented, but we weren’t worried as they were small breaks, and in such a long crit and in such heat we didn’t think that a small break would roll ‘til the finish. As the race went on though it was clear that this was a different dynamic. Everyone seemed content to just roll around in the peloton, and I’d had some recovery, so decided to bridge up. Looking back I probably didn’t need to bridge quite as hard as I did...typical.

The break wasn’t working well together, and as the big guns weren’t represented I was eager to keep it that way and tried to keep the pace high. Almost got a couple of primes...but just barely missed out on both. Looking back, I really shouldn’t have worked as hard as I did, but hindsight is 20/20. At some point Roth and Schiller bridged up...this whole part is a bit blurry, but I remember seeing them attack the break with one other, and knew again that I had to respond. It was a deep effort to get across to them, but I made it.

Again, the breakaway just didn’t seem too fast, and definitely not fast enough for Roth, so he made his attack and wasn’t challenged at 11 to go. Part of me was relieved, as my legs were feeling the efforts and I wasn’t looking forward to how much hurt he was going to put on the break. The reduced breakaway now (Schiller, me and at least one or two other guys, again, a bit foggy) were able to work together, but it still didn’t feel fast as Roth put time into us like a stopwatch, and I was worried about the peloton catching us. At about 3 or 4 to go, a group bridged up...I remember two First Internet Bank guys, Trevor (from the Hustle) and (thankfully) my teammate Keith. As attacks started going they’d get chased down and there would be a lull. Best tactic here was to use up the rest of my little remaining energy by attacking at these lulls to keep the pace high, and to hopefully set Keith up for the sprint (and also ensure a nauseous feeling for the entire drive home). On the second or third attack I could sense that there was no response from the break behind, so I just put my head down and did all I could for the final 2 plus a bit laps. Now every time I’m in this situation I generally get hauled down and passed by Schiller in the final 100’s of meters like I’m going backwards, but when I entered the finishing straight, I chanced a look back and didn’t see him. I figured then I had second in the bank, but just to be sure I got up and sprinted at least half the finishing straight. I collapsed and soaked up the feeling of the podium, as well as a few water bottles from a spectator who lived on course. My podium was about as ugly as I felt in the race; I was too mixed up to think straight, went on to it with my helmet still on, couldn’t get the champagne open, didn’t hold the flowers up in the air...all in all I was a bit of a trainwreck. I’m sure there were a few laughs had at my expense, and I’m alright with that.

Mark on the podium at via italia


This race was a big deal for the team for a few reasons: A) we were on every provincial podium B) we won the overall Ontario Criterium series and C) it was our final road race.

I know how proud we all are of the season; this year we all really clicked as a team and got some great results. For myself I know I’ve taken the week just to relax and reflect on the results that our hard work got us. It’s something that you need to do at the end of the season so that you can be proud of the hard work you’ve put in, and just relax and rest in that before starting to think about the next season, and the work that needs to be done in order to make it as successful, or more successful than the season past.

Thanks for all of our supporters, and all of the people who have cheered us on, fed us, and helped us out by sponsoring us. We honestly couldn’t have done it without you!