Live Blog: 2012 Texas Road Rash
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April 22, 2012
12:40 am | Recap (updated with women's race)
The Simmons team didn’t realize just how close it came to victory in today’s Texas Road Rash.
All through the race, the team members kept its eyes on the two Bont USA skaters. They knew that the duo — two of America’s top indoor skaters — would be tough to beat.
They tried wearing them out with breakaways. “We thought they might blow up and some of our guys could get away,” said Simmons’ Rob Bell.
Several times in the first half of the 28-mile race, Simmons skaters took the lead and got out ahead of the pack. But each time, the pack caught them, more often than not on the long downhill section on the backside of the road course where the paceline could generate extra speed.
The Simmons skaters couldn’t get away from the Bont skaters. Not only that, but the Bont skaters were going on strong breakaways of their own, making it clear that they weren’t going to let the race get away from them.
“Those guys were doing a good job of keeping the pace high,” said Simmons’ Alex Fedak.
Halfway through the race, the pack settled down. The skaters started to realize that no one was going to be able to get away and that it was going to come down to a field sprint.
But unknown to the other skaters, Bont USA’s Justin Stelly was hurting. The fast pace of the race had taken a toll on his knees, which he injured last winter while cycling.
“It felt like needles sticking into the back of my knees,” he said.
The pain made it hard for him to double-push and accelerate. So he was standing straighter than usual and skating with just the classic push to the side.
“I tried not to let anyone see me hurting because I knew if they kept pushing, they could crack me,” he said.
With about a mile and a half left in the race, the Pinnacle team of Jimmy Blair, Bill Numeric and Steffen Howard took the lead and started pushing the pace.
Stelly and his Bont teammate Harry Vogel got behind them, followed, a few skaters back, by the six Simmons skaters.
With about three-quarters of a mile to go, Simmons’ Rob Bell decided he had to try to make something happen. He went to the inside and started sprinting. Teammate Tanner Worley, 14, got in front of him and together they tried to get to the front.
But that just started the stampede.
“From there is was all out to the finish line,” Bell said.
But there wasn’t much change in position.
Stelly and Vogel, both exceptional sprinters, turned on the speed and took the lead. Stelly, 24, of Kaplan, LA, won standing up. “It feels really good to win this race … finally.”
This was Stelly's fourth Road Rash. He finished second last year behind Joey Mantia.
Teammate Harry Vogel was second. Luigino's Mickey Lee was third.
The Simmons team had hoped to reclaim the Road Rash this year after a six year drought. But it got shut out of the open pro podium, although it did — according to unofficial results — claim the fourth (Tanner Worley) through eighth (Alex Fedak) positions.
The bright spot for the team was Ryan Chrisler's win in the master division.
Bont USA's Briana Kramer had hoped to stay with the men's lead pack throughout today's race. But she dropped back halfway through.
"They just kept attacking, and the pace was really high, and they dropped me," said the 20-year-old inline and ice skater from Orlando, FL. "What really made me tired was all the stop-and-go."
Kramer skated alone for a while before teaming up with Asphalt Beach's Lenny Willcox. The two worked together and started passing other dropped skaters.
Meanwhile, the other pro women were dropping further behind.
Kramer was the first woman across the line, finishing a few minutes ahead of Asphalt Beach's Elisabeth White and Candy Wong.
"I need to do more outdoor work," said Kramer. "But this was a great start. ... This was great practice."
Kramer is the second woman to win the Texas Road Rash two years in a row. Her Bont manger, Debbie Rice, won four years in a row, from 2007 to 2010.
Official results ... later
No results are expected to be available today due to problems with the timing equipment. (Check back later.)
Awards will be mailed to the winners.
9:21 am | Finish
Here they come. It's a full-out field sprint of seven or eight skaters. Bont's Justin Stelly wins. Teammate Harry Vogel is second. ...
A bunch more men finish ... (names to come) ...
A few minutes later, Bont's Briana Kramer sprints in with a group of men to win the women's race — for the second year in a row. So far, it's a Bont USA sweep.
Unofficially, Asphalt Beach's Elizabeth White is the second woman. Then teammate Candy Wong of Richmond Hills, Ontario.
Unofficial results: third place men: Luigino's Nickey Lee of Tulsa.
9:09 am | Fifth lap
The pack is still together as it finishes its fifth lap around Old Settlers Park.
"They are still working together," says Littrell. "No one's really breaking it apart, so it looks like it's going to be a dead heat, a sprint to the finish."
Bont USA's Briana Kramer is not in the lead pack, as she had hoped. She has dropped back into a chase pack with several other men. But she's minutes ahead of the other pro women.
One lap to go.
8:54 am| Fourth lap
The pack caught the breakaway during the fourth lap. Now, as it comes around the corner to finish the fourth lap, Brent Bovitz of Minnesota is in front.
Bovitz, 44, is skating for Twincam this year. He leads a pack of about 24 skaters.
8:41 am | Third lap
A small breakaway of four skaters is about 30 feet ahead of the pack as the leaders come around the corner to finish their third lap.
"No one's getting away," says Littrell.
The pack has splintered into two pieces and is picking up speed as the skaters reach the halfway point in the race.
Jim Bourgeois and Renee Coffman win the half marathon.
8:30 am | Second lap
Bont USA's Justin Stelly was about 30 yards ahead of the pack as the skaters finished their second lap on the road course.
The pack was still big — more than 20 skaters — and clearly not content to let Stelly get away.
The music is pounding at the finish line and the crowd is cheering on the skaters as they roll by.
8:15 am | First lap
A big pack appears from around the corner at the end of the first lap. "It's looks like they are just feeling each other out right now," Littrell says.
The pack included most of the 40 starters in the open pro and pro master divisions, including some of the top women.
Simmons' Alex Fedak leads the way as the pack crosses the line to finish its first lap.
A smaller group of about seven skaters is about a minute behind the leaders.
8:09 am | They're off
All divisions are on the racecourse now. The full marathon is six loops of the course through and around Old Settlers Park.
Clean start, beautiful morning," Richard Littrell says.
Among the late registrants is Simmons' Adam Miller. The Simmons team is back up to full strength this year: Miller, Alex Fedak, Rob Bell, Ryan Chrisler and Richard Cassube.
7:45 am | Scene
It's beautiful weather for racing in Round Rock this morning.
"It's crystal clear, dead calm and 50 degrees," says Richard Littrell. "There's no wind at all, so it's going to be great. We've had some wind in the past. But not this year."
Littrell is at the starting line in Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. He is one of the founders of the Texas Road Rash, which is celebrating its ninth anniversary this year.
The skaters are getting lined up for the start. Pro skaters go at 8 am; open skaters at 8:02; and half marathoners at 8:03.
Planet preview of the Texas Road Rash