Friday, June 13, 2008

"Our" Brooke Wins in Mpls

MINNEAPOLIS - Reluctant semi-Clevelander Brooke Miller won the sprint in today's Minneapolis criterium stage at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and you read it here first (unless you read it somewhere else before this).

I get to break the news to the folks back home in Cleveland 'cause I'm here in the Twin Cities on bidniss and I was there to watch it -- along with tens of thousands of other people. And Velonews doesn't seem to care about posting live results from domestic races until the intern comes in tomorrow morning to open the email from Neal Rogers (who, I think, used to be either an astronaut or the lead singer for Bad Company).

So I have the scoop. And this one, too: HealthNet-Maxxis put a completely dominating ass-whipping on the men's field to put sprint-points leader Kirk O'Bee first across the line in a close finish.

Both were great races to watch.

Brooke was obviously very stressed out beforehand, as you can see from this less-than-Rick-Adams-quality cell-phone shot:

Brooke told me once last winter that Nature Valley would be a high priority this year. (She probably does not remember that because she, like many other people I met, seems to have no recollection that we have met. And I often don't remember them, so we're even. But I do remember Brooke: We rode together briefly a couple times, and sat and talked over coffee at the Phoenix on Coventry for way over an hour at meeting for my real job. But today, she had no clue who I was when I yelled a pre-race hello and a post-race congrats. One of those out-of-context things, I guess. Or maybe she did remember, and didn't like what emerged from our meeting -- a small bit of work that nonetheless had an audience roughly 15 times larger than anything ever published in Velonews. )

Well, it was pretty clear to me (if not to the oblivious PA announcers) that Brooke was seriously gunning for the win. She wasted no time getting to the front, and just sat there -- 5th to 8th wheel -- while her Tibco teammates attacked off the front. One Tibco gal got a 5-second gap at one point and I told the bike-race newbies next to me what the announcers were ignoring: That Tibco was forcing the other teams to bring back attacks so Brooke could sit in. And sit in she did: Her SRM will show lots of short 0-rpm rests on the home stretch going into turn 1.

When it became clear no one would get away, the race played out exactly as I predicted: Brooke went into the last lap at 5th wheel and sprinted up the right side for the win, by a good margin (2 bike lengths?). Those novice fans looked at me like I predicted the winning lottery numbers -- as though I were the ghost of Jim McKay. Well, hey -- she set herself up perfectly to be there for the sprint, and I knew she would kill to win. Doesn't make me a genius.

The geniuses are on HealthNet. They sat on their asses for about 30 laps, leaving GC leader Ben Jaques-Maynes' Bissell team on the front to control the race and chase down every one of the many attacks (several of which were from a sloppy Rock Racing team). Then, with about 10 laps to go, HealthNet effortlessly moved to the front and set up the train, driving a pace far too brutal for any attacks. Bissell riders were scattered throughout the peloton by then, and it was academic that someone from HN was gonna win. Should've been obvious to me that it would be O'Bee, because he was in the orange sprint-points leader's jersey.

I was not at the finish for the men's because I thought there might be a good pileup in the last corner, so I was near the 200-meter mark to see the sprinters uncoil. Then I saw O'Bee's arms go up. But the PA announcers said he won by no more than a couple inches over Ivan Stevic.
By then it was twilight over the fabulous city of Minneapolis and its beautiful skyline. I walked past a bunch of despondent non-competitive teams -- Kelly Benefit Strategies and Rock among them -- wallowing in misery around their team cars.

Me? I was far from misery. I felt like I used to when I walked out of a big Tribe win at the Jake. Except I wasn't drunk this time.

- JN


JC Sell said...

Whoop Whoop - Go Brooke!!!

Takin' in good races with the masses is just surreal!

See ya around.

Happy Father's Day!1

cyclonecross said...

Nice post Jim. It was almost like being there; thanks for sharing!

Hats off to Brooke!


Rick said...

Thanks for sharing Jimmy.....and for the backhanded compliment.