TBA - 23rd National Road Cycling Championship - Report

The Bike Affair

TBA Racing Team

Last week I accompanied my athletes (of the TBA Racing team) to the Nationals Road Racing Championships. Here is a brief summary of all the races that TBA Racing athletes took part in. 

Please note that this is not a full report of the Nationals, which had several more categories of races

Participants

  • U18: Anirudh Arvind, Prajwal Pingali
  • Elite: Akash Panda, Khiyar Pasha

Races

  • U18: Team Time Trial (40km) & Mass Start (80km)
  • Elite: Team Time Trial (60km) & Mass Start (120km)

Location 

  • Pehowa, Haryana (roughly 30 km from Kurukshetra)

The race was conducted on a stretch of 10 km road to have 20K loops. The road was blocked off completely and was in very good shape. It was a flat road with a lot of winds.

It was a 2/3 lane for half the distance and just 1 lane for the remaining half. Nevertheless, it was quite safe and well-guarded by people to avoid accidents. 

U 18 TTT

The Under 18 Team Time Trial was our best bet

The Under 18 Team Time Trial was our best bet as we had a strong set of 4 boys who knew each other, trained together and were of similar strengths. 3 of the boys rode road bikes with aero bars and one rode a borrowed TT bike. We clocked about 41.5 kmph for the 40km distance and finished 7th. All 4 stayed together and finished strong.

What we learned? A few of the members’ positioning on the bikes needs improvement and disc wheels / TT bikes would have improved our timing & chances of podium. 

In fact, as I was riding behind I felt that they had cracked the podium, but it wasn’t to be, this time

U 18 Mass Start

The Mass Start had a U turn in the 1st km. My instruction to the team was to be right in the front to take the narrow turn early or be safe & behind. Thankfully the expected crash did not happen and no breakaway formed. Attacks happened very often, but nothing really succeeded. Prajwal also tried a few attacks of his own and even tried to join what looked like a promising breakaway, but it got shutdown by the peloton. 

There was a massive acceleration at the 10km turnaround and the group started to get stretched. Our boys were positioned towards the middle of the group. Just as I was thinking that they need to get away from that place I heard a crash and saw two Telangana jerseys on the ground. Tanishq, the U16 champion from the morning’s race had decided to race this too and unfortunately, with him skidding, he brought down Anirudh. 

It was a nasty crash with both the boys shocked & bruised badly. I ran over to them and tried coaxing them to get back to the race, in vain. Anirudh had a huge impact on his helmet (which had protected him from any injury) that left him speechless. He speaks less on normal days, but his silence to my questions were truly terrifying. Slowly, he recovered, and we put him on the ambulance to the nearby start point. Race over for Anirudh. 

After this, Prajwal felt his early attacks costing him and eventually got dropped & soloed to the end.

Elite TTT

This was the first race of the nationals for us. Akash and Pasha barely knew the other two. A top 7 finish would have ensured us entry to the national games in Goa next year. Hardly anything went well for the race. As soon as the race started, Akash's right aero bar got loose and he couldn’t really hold the TT position. His tall 6’ 2” frame prevented him from following the group on the drops and he got dropped within the first 10km. Balesh was also having problems with his bike and had to stop twice & fix things. 

We ended up with a slow 38kmph average and a disappointing 11th place.

Elite Mass Start

The strategy was the same as the U18 mass start to hit the U turn early and avoid any early pile ups. We did avoid the early pileups.  But, Akash's wheel was swept out by an aggressive rider and he fell down at the 6k mark. However, he was up in a flash and dieseled his way back to the peloton. He reconnected with the peloton just before the 10k U turn and the massive acceleration after that demolished the peloton. Akash lost touch with the peloton but tried catching back with a few other riders, but soon found himself riding alone. 

Pasha was also at the back of the group at the U turn and once we lose the peloton it is extremely difficult to catch them back. Pasha bridged up to Akash and a few others and went to complete the race as the carnage continued at the front. The eventual winner broke away and won. What a phenomenal effort that would have required!

Final Comments

here was a lot of learning, about equipment, positioning on the bike, positioning in the group, race strategy and power required to win the races. The first part to a journey is to know the destination. Now, we have rebooted and started training again with this knowledge. If we continue to enjoy the training & stay focused the results will follow.