To start the shenanigans, a guy from Red Truck and Dan Harm of Hagen's launched mid way through lap one of two on stage one. As I thought Dan Harm was probably one of the biggest threats in the race, I was not exactly excited to watch that break roll. I chased for a minute or so and realized I was getting no help, so I let it go. It was a gamble, hoping they'd go out too hard, blow sky high from the huge effort and get reeled in late in the race. Sure enough, Dan did finally detonate, getting caught with around 5K to go. The guy is tough! Only one problem at that point, where was the other guy?! Where's the lead vehicle? Shouldn't it be in sight since the other guy has to be cracking too right? WRONG! Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' (to the tune of Rawhide) way, way out in front of 120 pro's and amateurs from all around the northwest came Rob Britton of Red Truck. 2 minutes 48 seconds later, 29 remnants of the front group came charging in.
The three remaining stages had been set for everyone on large scale teams. Goal #1: crack the Red Truck squad. An alliance had been made between Hagen's and Bob's to do anything and everything possible to put Red Truck on the ropes. The next stage was a time trial, an individual event. Everyone starts at 30 second intervals, fastest man wins. Hagen's Sam Johnson got the stage by a landslide! One problem, Mr. Red Truck Rob only lost a little of his lead, finishing in 3rd on a road bike with clip-ons! The stage went a bit better for Bob's, placing three in the top five!
Stage three, a 95 mile road race with wind and one solid climb. Usually the wind neutralizes the climb as it is typically strong enough of a headwind that drafting allows all to make it up the hill without too much difficulty, but history didn't hold true in 2008. Immediatly, Bob's and Hagen's went on the offensive. Attack after attack after attack after... Red Truck covered everything like there was nothing to it. There were groups that made it off the front, but even the most impressive groups were brought back. The field even split a few times, but came back together over and over. On the last of three laps, a break without either Bob's or Hagen's got away. A passing word from Sam J. of Hagen's explained it all, "Oops." For the next many miles, Bob's and Hagen's worked together to bring it back. The gap was coming down slowly, but not like many would expect of a Bob's/Hagen's dual chase. After blowing out the majority of both teams from chasing, one of each team attacked the field and went it alone. Justin Rose and Sam J. uncorked every last bit of effort left in them to bridge to the break. With roughly eight miles left, the two completed one tough bridge. Race leader Rob Britton was in the break and had much fresher legs from the work his team had done all day. The last time up the major climb just clarified how much fresher legs he had. Results of stage three. A few other guys rocked out on the stage at the end, especially winner Zach Garland, but they were on teams that didn't have to hang out in the wind all day. At the end of the day, all legs hurt and the general classification didn't look too good for either of the major squads minus the big Red Truck.
Stage four, the criterium, a one hour race around an L shape of a few blocks in downtown Walla Walla. By that point, the criterium was more of a formality. The general classification had been solidified more or less in stone. A few breaks formed, but never stuck it since there was never the just perfect combination of teams represented. In the end, Ian Tubbs won the sprint for the stage win.
When all was said and done, Red Truck proved to be the most formidable bunch of arse kickers. Either they've got a seriously good program going on up there or there needs to be some testing done at Walla Walla next year.