Bike racing is tough. And three races in three days leaves behind a lot of tired racers, sore legs and broken bikes.
The Longsjo Classic bike race is three critermium style races (short course, multiple laps) in Leominster, Worcester and Fitchburg Massachusetts. Each technical downtown race presented it’s own set of challenges combining narrow roads and fast tight corners. Adding to this were the poor road conditions and a touch of rain on the last day all leading to high stakes racing with a lot of crashes.
This is all great fun for spectators. For racers it’s pure madness with everyone fighting for the first few positions seeking the cleanest lines and diving through the corners.The Aetna-Expo cat three team was represented through the weekend by Nick Willette and Stan Lezon. With each race through the weekend counting 80 to 100 racers the team would need to ride fast and take chances.
Day One – Leominster
Friday evening’s race featured a fast one mile course with four tight corners. A narrow downhill in the back stretch lead to the final corner and opened up the field for a sprint to the start/finish line. With the high speeds and stacked competition the Aetna-Expo team worked hard to avoid crashes and find the front of the race. Nick Willette fought for position but being caught in a crash limited his ability to stay near the leaders and the team finished within the main field.
Day Two – Worcester
Saturday afternoon was a chance for the team to redeem themselves. The technical course featured six corners in less than a mile. With racers completing 20 laps positioning in the 100 rider field was critical. Further complicating things was a road surface that resembled a block of swiss cheese turning water bottles and other equipment not properly tied down into projectiles. A flat tire for Nick Willette caused minimal problems and choosing a risky line at the right time the team was able to move Stan Lezon to the front of the race with a few laps to go. From the front Stan was able to attack the field to chase the four man breakaway but the field recognized the move and chased him down leaving the team to finish again in the main pack.
Nick Willette (Front) and Stan Lezon get ready for the Worcester Crit
Day Three – Fitchburg
The race course on Sunday would have favored the Aetna-Expo strengths with only a few corners and a long straight drag strip, however the weather had other plans. Pouring rain and 55 degrees made even warming up difficult. With visibility complicated by water spraying off wheels the day was part racing and part surviving. The main field continued to shrink each lap as the crashes took their toll. Once again Stan Lezon was able to find the front of the race but the constant surges left the team finishing mid pack.
Bike racing is tough, but it’s also a lot of fun. The Aetna-Expo team survived to race again. Keep an eye out for us to continue mixing it up all season long.
(Top and Bottom) Stan Lezon Leading the Field in the Fitchburg Criterium