The Mighty Tour de Nez is striving to return to its full glory, and it is well on its way. Roman Kilun regaled the team with tales of his success at this race in the past, and everyone was excited to be at the re-imagined classic.
The team arrived at the course in Reno after a traffic-filled three hour drive from the Bay Area and set to work unloading our Toyota Sienna in searing dry heat. With our mechanic Caesar on-hand and the a-frame adorned with team bikes, TMB found respite from the high temperatures in the shade and began pinning numbers, preparing ice socks, and relaxing before the start.
With a strong contingent of eight riders at the event, the team had numerous options, and Roman and Adam Switters laid out a plan that would set the team up for success. Half the squad would be prepared to follow any attacks from the gun, which has lately become the M.O. of the CalGiant team. Nate English, Max Korus, and Premier Series leader, Colin Daw, would wait before making any serious efforts. The goal was to avoid a field sprint and to further Colin’s advantage in the Premier Series.
The temperature had only dropped slightly by the start, and many riders were packing ice socks into their jerseys with the telltale bulge that would never be mistaken for muscle on a cyclist. The 0.6 mile course featured a gradual rise on the finishing stretch and then turned right into the longest straight buffeted by a strong headwind before entering the more technical series of turns that would prove decisive. On the start line during the pre-race instructions, Michael Sayers threw out a $200 cash prize for the first U23 rider to lap the field. With that, the whistle blew, and the pedaling was on.
The race was rather calm from the gun with the anticipated cannonball from CalGiant never materializing. The dance of attacks and counters raged on for the first few laps and it wasn't long before Max was off the front with a small group including Brendan Rhim and Willie Myers. With a $200 prime on offer, Rhim struck out and collected a nice payday and Max countered the move going clear solo. A VuMedi rider from the earlier move clawed his way back to Max’s wheel, but could not keep the high pace and soon drifted back to the field.
With the leash off, Max put his head down and powered on, using the technical section of the course to recover. As the laps wound down, so too did his gap, but he was soon joined by teammate Colin Daw, and the inimitable Justin Rossi with somewhere around 20 laps to go. With more horsepower up front, the trio continued to fly around the course with Max and Rossi driving the move and Colin sitting comfortably at the back waiting to pounce for the win.
In the dwindling laps of the race, the tail of the field and follow motos came into view and the possibility of lapping the field became a real opportunity. With the gap down to only a handful of seconds, Colin attacked to get across and leave Rossi behind, but the Herbalife rider would not be distanced and so he towed Max back to Colin’s wheel as the three rejoined the rear of the field. Roman was ready and waiting at the back of the field and within 300m, a blink of an eye, had escorted Max and Colin straight to the pointy end of things.
There was chaos up the road with a number of riders clear of the field who were not yet lapped. TMB handled the situation with aplomb and went to the front to control the race with Roman and Nate spearheading the charge in the thin air of Reno. The confusion of the frenetic pace was evident as many riders in the field were unaware that a group had lapped the field and the usual jockeying for position began without any consideration for those contesting the win. In the final few laps there was a crash and Max and Colin, safely nestled in the TMB, train were unaware that the grinding of carbon had claimed Rossi as a victim.
The groups off the front continued to be reeled in by the strong work of the Mike’s Bikes train. In the final lap, just before the technical section of the course, the last group was in the crosshairs. Max jumped on the outside and railed the corners to go clear of the scrum, confident in the knowledge that he was the first rider on the road. It was a long way to the finish. Coming out of the final sweeping right he opened his sprint only to be nipped on the line by Ansel Dickey of CalGiant. But Max had done what Ansel hadn’t and was a lap up on the rider resplendent in berry red. Colin Daw flashed past the line a bike length or two behind to secure a Team Mike’s Bikes 1-2 finish, with Adam Switters and Andrew Goessling also in the top 10.