McDonald wanted no part of that. “I just started waving some people through [who] I knew would be contenders for the win like Thijs and Trebon,” he said. “I didn’t want to hold them up from chasing down Chaniel, and then I just saw how long I could hang on. I really only have about 30 minutes of effort in me, so I blew super hard with three laps to go then I did my best to hold off anyone who was coming up on me. Molly Cameron really kept me honest at the end.”
Chainel wasted no time building what appeared to be an insurmountable lead, and spectators of every nationality could be heard remarking on the speed of the French road pro. But perhaps it was the very same 53 tooth chainring that was his undoing. Running a Campagnolo road double, his chain certainly was longer than would be necessary if he was running cyclocross rings, and perhaps the extra slack, or lack of guards played a role in him dropping his chain, just as his wife did earlier in the day. But unlike his wife, he did it at nearly the furthest point from the pits, and in attempting to pedal it back on, ripped his Campagnolo Super Record derailleur off at the hanger, leaving the front to a surprised-to-be-leading Al.
What ensued was perhaps the most impressive athletic display of the day. Chainel threw the bike on his shoulder and sprinted down the road and trail towards the pit. Only, on the 3.5km course, his “sprint” was longer than a kilometer. Riders like McDonald, Justin Lindine (Redline), Carl Decker (Giant) and others flew by, and each racer would have been justified in cracking a smile knowing they just moved up a place in the points and money.
Chainel eventually fell well back, almost outside the top twenty by the time he grabbed his pit bike. “Top ten, top ten,” he told himself, trying to salvage a result and points from the trip. Picking off riders left and right, Chainel made quick work of getting back into the top ten, surprising even himself, and then continued on his mission. Would the podium be possible?
Power vs. Acceleration
With Chainel far back and just Al separating Trebon from a coveted C1 win, the chase was on. Thirty minutes into the race, Al led Trebon by 14 seconds, but ten minutes later Trebon made contact and moved to the front to resume his call-up position.
The effort and bumps took their toll though, and both riders turned to each other with exhausted looks and revealed to each other they didn’t have much left. Was it a game of verbal sandbagging? Al sat on, watching Trebon’s lines, but struggled with all his might to stay in contact on the straights. “I could barely hang on!” Al said. “He has some serious power on straights, but I noticed that he wasn’t so fast in the corners…he’s so tall, and comes out of corners with one gear too tall.” Going through the trees with two to go, you could see Al nearly contact Trebon’s wheel coming out of a few corners.